Dolly Parton Playfully Suggested She and Johnny Carson Could ‘Get to Be Better Friends’

The chemistry between country superstar Dolly Parton and late TV icon Johnny Carson was always noticeable when she visited her friend on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. She stopped by for interviews often enough in the ’70s to jokingly tell him, “I’m here about as much as you are.”

The two usually had a good laugh, but things also tended to get a little flirtatious. However, even Carson seemed speechlessly surprised when Parton invited him to her concert and said, “Maybe we’ll get to be better friends.” What did the late-night legend eventually say about crossing paths and getting closer to Parton off the show?

Dolly Parton playfully reaches out to Johnny Carson on 'The Tonight Show'
Dolly Parton and Johnny Carson | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Johnny Carson and Dolly Parton shared a mutual admiration

In their first interview together, Carson and Parton seemed to admire each other’s work. But the conversation turned to her body and he told her he’d pay to get a peek under her dress. Though some called the moment awkward, a giggling Parton didn’t seem to take any offense and came back quite often.

During a visit in September of 1979 available on YouTube, she recalled how Carson came to visit her in her dressing room but she couldn’t talk because she was in her petticoat. She told him she’d wanted that chance to spend some time with him because she said, “People think we’re great friends and I feel like we are.”

Then, Carson read a letter that personally invited him to the dedication of the Dolly Parton Parkway in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee. Though he said he wouldn’t make it, he suggestively noted, “I’d like to see that parkway — especially the off-ramp.”

Though Parton said she felt like they were already great friends at that point, she also suggested they could get to be even closer.

Dolly Parton told Johnny Carson, ‘Maybe we’ll get to be better friends’

While visiting Carson in September of 1979, Parton told him she left two tickets for him to enjoy one of her concerts. She said she hoped they might see each other and added, “Maybe we’ll get to be better friends.”

The audience hooted and hollered as Carson seemed a little speechless, but she didn’t shy away from her statement. She told him, “I’m serious! I really mean that.”

And as evidence to what an icon Parton is, the host seemed to stumble in finding the right words. “I think yes,” he nodded before adding, “You see, this audience takes everything the wrong way. Friendship is very important.”

Late-night people hit Dolly Parton’s fancy

Parton told W magazine she’s just always had a thing for late-night hosts, admitting her celebrity crush is Jimmy Fallon. She explained, “Sometimes you never know who you’re gonna connect with. I’ve always had good luck with late-night guys, you know? I always had a nice relationship with David Letterman and with Johnny Carson.”

She explained the appeal further, saying, “I guess there’s something about that late-night people that kinda hits my fancy and I hit theirs somehow. I guess it’s ’cause you feel like you can be more free late at night. You don’t have to worry about what you say.”

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