Dolly Parton Spoke Out on Why She’s Worn Wigs Since Days of ‘Porter Wagoner Show’

by Jennifer Shea

Country legend Dolly Parton’s hair is a part of her signature look, and she’s been using wigs to achieve the desired effect for years.

In fact, that look goes back to at least 1967, when Parton first appeared on “The Porter Wagoner Show.” She had recently arrived in Nashville and got her big break when Wagoner needed a new girl on his show.

The inspiration for Parton’s signature style was reportedly the Frederick’s of Hollywood catalogs she used to browse as a teenager. Parton modeled her appearance on what she thought a movie star would look like.

Dolly Parton Started Wearing Wigs on ‘The Porter Wagoner Show’

Parton explained that she “feel[s] like a butterfly” when she gets all dolled up. It’s not only the wigs. It’s also the makeup, the rhinestones and the bright, flashy colors.

“Porter and the boys were more into their western suits, but I didn’t want that look. I just wanted my stuff to be shiny, flashy, and colorful, and I still do. I feel like a butterfly when I am in all of my colors. I can’t get enough rhinestones, enough color, enough gaud, because it fits my personality,” Parton wrote in her memoir, “Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics.”

From those early days on, Parton started wearing both her heels and her hair as high as possible. That became easier once she was able to get her hands on some wigs, so her hair would always look the way she wanted it to.

“I always wore my hair all teased up. Whenever that style started, I was the first to get my hair all poofy,” Parton wrote. “Then as soon as I could buy those hairpieces and wigs, I wanted them. For one thing, they were so handy. Plus, my hair would never do exactly what I wanted it to do. So the wigs became kind of my trademark.”

“The Porter Wagoner Show” had its own makeup girls. But Parton was never happy with the lengths they went to, so she would add makeup beyond what they had applied to achieve the look she wanted.

“I was always into makeup, but I never could stand anybody else’s version of me,” Parton wrote.

‘The Porter Wagoner Show’ Launched Parton’s Career

While Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner sometimes clashed, Parton remembers him fondly on her website.

“We could all relate to his sense of humor and his ‘good ol’ boy’ ways,” Parton said. “I could relate to his shiny bright costumes, his flashy smile, and his blond helmet.”

During Parton’s time on the show, “Porter Wagoner” rose to become the top syndicated show in the country. She and Wagoner frequently performed duets, and their offscreen bickering was offset by their onscreen chemistry.

By the 1990s, Parton was a megastar and Wagoner was respected as an elder statesman of country music and the unofficial spokesman of the Grand Ole Opry. He died in 2007 at age 80.