Dolly Parton Once Lost a Dolly Parton Look-Alike Contest

There’s no one quite like Dolly Parton. The legendary country singer is a bona fide icon, known for her songs, her acting, and her one-of-a-kind look. And though you might think no one could ever be a better Dolly than Dolly herself, you’d be wrong. The “Jolene” singer once entered a Dolly Parton look-alike contest — and lost. 

Dolly Parton entered a look-alike contest at a gay bar 

In 2017, Parton sat down for an interview with Harry Connick Jr. on his talk show Harry. Both Connick and Parton were in costume for the episode, which aired on Halloween. He dressed as Willy Wonka from the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, while she was spoiled brat Veruca Salt. During their chat, Parton recalled another time she dressed up in costume — as herself. 

The 9 to 5 star explained she was in Los Angeles when she and a group of friends decided to visit a gay bar that was hosting a Dolly Parton look-alike contest. She deliberately exaggerated her look, making her beauty mark, eyes, and hair bigger than normal, she said when recounting the same story to ABC News in 2012.

“They had these big drag queens — I mean they looked great too, they were prettier than I could ever dream of being — but anyway when they walked across the stage, if they applauded, you won the contest by the amount of applause. I guess you got free drinks,” Parton told Connick. 

“All these beautiful guys were walking across, these Dolly Partons … and here I come walking across the stage and I got the least applause of anybody,” she went on to say. “I’ve always said it’s terrible when you lose a Dolly Parton look-alike contest.”

Dolly explains what inspired her signature look 

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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Parton’s big blonde hair, bedazzled outfits, and curvaceous figure have turned her into a style icon. She may not embrace high fashion, but that’s part of her charm. As she once famously quipped, “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.”

The musician and theme park entrepreneur explained to ABC News that her look was inspired by a woman she saw around the small Tennessee town near where she grew up.  

“There was this woman, we won’t call her names, but she was beautiful,” Parton said. “I had never seen anybody, you know, with the yellow hair all piled up and the red lipstick and the rouge and the high heeled shoes, and I thought, ‘This is what I want to look like.'”

Parton grew up in poverty, the fourth of 12 children in a home with no running water and no electricity. “If someone came to our house who had a lipstick, I thought they were millionaires,” she told London’s Evening Standard. Her upbringing meant she was drawn to those who had more than she did. 

“I always liked the looks on our hookers: their big hairdos and make-up made them look more,” she said. “When people say less is more, I say more is more. Less is less.”