Dolly Parton’s Surprising Reaction When Shirley MacLaine Called Her ‘Shrewd’

Dolly Parton starred in the hit movie Steel Magnolias in 1989. Her co-stars included Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Daryl Hannah, Shirley MacLaine, and Julia Roberts. The “Love Is Like a Butterfly” singer had a surprising reaction after hearing that MacLaine referred to her as “shrewd.”

Dolly Parton’s reaction to being called ‘shrewd’

Dolly Parton wears a gold and white dress while playing guitar.
Dolly Parton | Andrew Lipovsky/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Although being called shrewd isn’t necessarily negative, it does tend to have negative connotations. When people are referred to as shrewd there’s often the implication they’re dishonest or greedy in some way.

During a 1992 interview, Lorianne Crook asked Parton to share her reaction to a comment her former co-star made about her. Crook went on to say MacLaine referred to her as “shrewd” during an interview with Barbara Walters. “Do you think it’s true?” asks Crook. Parton seemed taken off guard, but she responded in an unexpected way.

“I think it’s true,” says Parton. “I took it as a compliment. A lot of people said, ‘Weren’t you offended when she said you were shrewd?’ I said, “‘No, if you look up what the word shrewd means.’”

Parton went on to say she’s a businesswoman, and so is MacLaine. She felt MacLaine was likely referring to her business acumen. Parton seemed to think a lot of fuss was being made over drama that simply wasn’t there.

“You know, I think Shirley and I are both businesswomen,” adds Parton. “She knows that I’m very sharp and very alert and very aware of what’s going on around me. And you do have to think about the things you’re doing. And I think Shirley meant that as a great compliment to me. And because we have become friends through the years, and if not, however she sees me is her business. I mean, I think she meant it as a compliment. I guess I’m shrewd. What do you think?”

Dolly Parton’s thoughts on being a boss

One important part of hiring is making sure you have people around you who are focused on getting the job done and who do their job well. In her book Dream More, Parton says she doesn’t want to work with people who are “inconsistent, undependable, and erratic.” She says these qualities drive her “up a wall.”

For Parton, dependability is key. She needs employees she can rely on and who help her accomplish the goals she has set out to achieve. During an interview with People, Parton speaks about her role as a boss. Although she wants to be respected, she also thinks it’s important to manage with love.

“I’m a good boss, I think,” says Parton. “I try to rule with love and compassion. But also, there’s a fine line that says, ‘She’s not a pushover.’ I’m a fair and honest person. I like to be as friendly as I can and love the people that work with me, and I like to have them love me.”

What’s next for Dolly Parton

Parton has plenty of projects in the works. Her book Run, Rose, Run with James Patterson will be released soon. Parton also partnered with Duncan Hines on a collection of cake mixes and frosting. Some of the flavors include banana, coconut, buttercream, and chocolate.

RELATED: Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire: Which Country Singer Has the Higher Net Worth?

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