Dolly Parton has given us a lot over the course of her 75 years, from hits like “Jolene” to her theme park Dollyworld, and even more recently, the Moderna vaccine. On Tuesday evening, the country music legend gave us another treat: She recreated one of her most iconic magazine covers and invited all of us in for a look. Read on to see Parton recreate her Playboy magazine cover from 1978 and to find out why she decided to get into those ears again, 43 years later.
On July 20, Parton posted a video to her Twitter account that shows her wearing a Playboy-inspired black bunny costume with a sparkly pink and white bow-tie, a callback to her 1978 cover shoot for the magazine. “Remember sometime back I said I was going to pose on the Playboy magazine when I was 75? Well, I’m 75, and they don’t have a magazine anymore,” she said. (Playboy is still publishing online, but hasn’t published a printed version since March 2020.)
But that didn’t stop Parton from getting back into the look. “I did a little photoshoot in this little outfit and I had a cover made of the new Dolly, or the old-new Dolly,” she said, holding up both the original cover and a photo of her now in a big frame. “In the first one, see remember this, I was kind of a little butterball in that one. Well I’m string cheese now,” she joked.
Parton became the first country singer to pose for Playboy when she was 32, and the music icon has talked about wanting to pose for the magazine again. “I don’t plan to retire,” Parton told 60 Minutes Australia in a March 2020 interview. “I plan to be on the cover of Playboy magazine again. See, I did Playboy magazine years ago and I thought it’d be such a hoot if they’ll go for it—I don’t know if they will—if I could be on the cover again when I’m 75.”
Her newest recreation doesn’t appear to be in direct collaboration with the magazine, however. “You think Playboy oughta pay me for at least the photoshoot? I do,” Parton joked in the 2021 video.
According to Parton, the Playboy redux was in honor of her husband Carl Thomas Dean’s 79th birthday on July 20. “My husband always loved the original cover of Playboy, so I was trying to think of something to do to make him happy,” Parton explained. “He still thinks I’m a hot chick after 57 years. And I’m not going to try to talk him out of that.”
Parton told her fans on Twitter that she had dressed up to surprise Dean and sing to him. Parton showed a brief picture of her presenting him with the framed photos all dressed up at the end of the video, which she captioned: “It’s always #HotGirlSummer for my husband, Carl. Happy birthday my love!”
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Parton and Dean have been together since 1964, after meeting outside a laundromat in Nashville when she was 18 and Dean was 21. The pair then got married in 1966 but have since maintained a very private relationship, rarely ever being photographed or interviewed together. Their relationship is so secretive, in fact, that some people have spun a theory that Dean doesn’t even exist, Parton told Entertainment Tonight in 2020.
“A lot of people have thought that through the years, because he does not want to be in the spotlight at all,” Parton explained of her camera-shy husband. “It’s just not who he is. He’s like, a quiet, reserved person and he figured if he ever got out there in that, he’d never get a minute’s peace and he’s right about that.”
Parton continued, “I’ve always respected and appreciated that in him and I’ve always tried to keep him out of the limelight as much as I can. He said, ‘I didn’t choose this world, I chose you, and you chose that world. But we can keep our lives separate and together.’ And we do and we have.”