Dolly Parton Once Said She Used to Love Lying to Johnny Carson

Dolly Parton isn’t exactly a two-faced liar. But, she has been known to pull an interviewer’s leg from time to time. She admitted to it in an interview in 1981. She especially loved messing with Johnny Carson on his show. Here’s what the Queen of Country said about having fun in interviews and her relationship with Carson.

Dolly Parton is a guest on 'The Tonight Show' with Johnny Carson.
Dolly Parton and Johnny Carson on November 22, 1989 | Alice S. Hall/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Dolly Parton said she’d ‘be a great creative liar’

When Parton was interviewed in 1981 on The Ralph Emery Show, the host called the “Jolene” singer out. He told her she has a tendency to “put people on” if they don’t know her well. After some hesitation, she had to agree.

“Oh, I will pull your leg in a minute, but not if it was somethin’ you were sincerely asking me about,” she said. “Well, it’s possible. I would be a great creative liar.”

But the singer reiterated if someone genuinely wanted to know something, she gave them a serious answer. But sometimes, she couldn’t help but have a little fun with her interviewers.

“I pull people’s legs,” she said. “Yeah, I’m full of bull. But if it’s something that matters and if it’s something serious, then I give you a very honest answer. Sometimes I like to kid people just to see if they’ll know or pick up on it. I usually won’t let it go all that far either if I see they really fell for it.”

The Queen of Country’s relationship with Johnny Carson

the “9 to 5” singer had a few iconic interviews with Johnny Carson back in the day. During one particularly infamous interview, the host told Parton he’d give a year’s pay to peek under her blouse. Despite their chemistry, Carson wasn’t immune to the singer’s tricks.

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“I’m always doing it to Johnny Carson,” she said. “When I do Johnny’s show, I’m always tellin’ him some rigmarole and he really believes me, like some people do. I just let them fall right into it and then I’ll usually let them come out of it.”

Parton said that she liked Carson. But she didn’t actually know him all that well, even though it may have looked that way.

“Well, we like each other, but, you know, I don’t know him except on the panel and when they go into commercials,” she said. “We talk at the panel. I’ve never seen him otherwise. People think we’re like these long, long friends.”

Dolly Parton’s been making up stories her whole life

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Even before she gave interviews for being a big star, Parton loved to make up stories with her “big imagination.” Those stories, though, turned into songs.

“When I was young, we didn’t go to the movies, so I just created my own stories,” she wrote in her 2020 book, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics. “It’s kind of embedded in me to make up songs and stories. I’d read something in a book or hear something and think, ‘What would happen next? What kind of story would that turn out to be?’”