Dolly Parton: The Real Queen Of All Media

Tells 60 Minutes When It Comes To Business, She Looks Like A Woman But Thinks Like A Man

This story was first published on April 5, 2009. It was updated on June 4, 2009.

Dolly Parton calls herself "a cartoon character that I created," and neither Bugs Bunny nor Minnie Mouse ever had it so good. But as Morley Safer first reported in April, there is the other Dolly Parton - the savviest woman in show business, the singer, the songwriter.

And yet another - the Hillbilly kid from the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, who grew up dirt poor in a family of 14.

She's a woman who, despite her millions, remains deeply attached to the customs, the humor and, for sure, the music of her roots.

Her latest venture is a Broadway show based on her iconic film "9 to 5" - words and music by Dolly. Writing songs and singing them is something she's been doing practically since birth.



"Ok. You wanna ask me to sing or do you want me to just whup it out for ya?" Dolly Parton asked Safer.

Safer and 60 Minutes were at Dolly's Tennessee mountain home, listening, to her "whup" out some songs from her childhood.

"Tiptoe, tiptoe, little Dolly Parton, tiptoe, tiptoe, ain't she fine?" Dolly sang. It's the first song she remembers hearing around the house.

"Little tiny tassletop, I love you an awful lot…Hope you never go away, I want you to stay," she sang for Safer. That's the first song she ever made up, at age five, about a doll her father made from a corn cob.

"Puppy love, puppy love. They all call it puppy love. Now I had that little squeak, I'm old enough now to kiss and hug and I like it!" she sang.

And that was the first song she ever recorded, when she was 13 years old.

For half a century now, "little" Dolly Parton has been center stage and loving it. She's a songwriter, movie star, and queen of the quotable quotes. At 63 years old and five feet tall, she's larger than life.

She settled on the "party girl" persona when she was still a kid.

"The woman that I was most impressed with when I was a little girl was the town tramp. But I didn't know what that meant," she told Safer. "This woman had the yellow peroxide hair. She had the red nails. The red lipstick. The beautiful eyes. The high heels. Short skirt. And I thought she was the prettiest thing I'd ever seen. And whoever I was with would say, 'Oh, she ain't nothin' but trash.' And I make the joke. And I would say, 'Well, that's what I'm gonna be when I grow up,' meaning that's how I wanna look."

"When you started out with whatever you want to call 'that look,' did people really get the wrong idea in the sense that they didn't know that beneath that look there is maybe one of the smartest women around?" Safer asked.

"Well, I certainly got hit on a lot. And a lotta men thought I was as silly as I looked, I guess. You know, I look like a woman but I think like a man. And in this world of business, that has helped me a lot. Because by the time they think that I don't know what's goin' on, I then got the money, and gone," she replied.

Gone, into Dolly, Inc.

Early on she demanded total control, and has a sizeable staff overseeing her business, philanthropy and music publishing. And she has become a kind of national monument, one who turned up at the National Press Club in Washington with some thoughts on the State of the Union.

"Somebody said to me 'Well, you know what? You just got such a big mouth and you just know how to talk to people. Did you ever think about runnin' for president?' I said 'I think we've had enough boobs in the White House,'" she joked at the press club appearance.

  • CBSNews

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