On This Day: Dolly Parton Makes First Appearance on ‘The Tonight Show’ with Johnny Carson in 1977

by Madison Miller

Dolly Parton became famous for her amazing, sweet country voice. However, now she has become a public icon that has to do with more than just her voice. She is also well-known for her other efforts in business, acting, and humanitarianism.

Parton has also appeared on her fair share of talk shows and late-night shows. She has been performing since 1967 and hasn’t slowed down since. In fact, today (Jan. 19) she is celebrating her 75th birthday.

Parton Appears on ‘The Tonight Show’

On this date in 1977, she made her first appearance on “The Tonight Show,” which at the time was hosted by Johnny Carson.

The two had a remarkably rememberable conversation that was in equal parts awkward.

Carson made a comment about Parton’s figure while they were sitting together chatting. Then she said, “I’ve always been pretty well blessed. People are always asking if they’re real …”

Carson then interrupted to say he would never ask her that kind of intrusive question on TV. He went on to say, “I have certain guidelines on this show, but I would give about a year’s pay to peek under there.”

Carson was known for making comments that were sometimes controversial. Such as the one about Zsa Zsa Gabor and the cat on her lap.

Now, interviewers might take a different route. They would be anything from writing books to songwriting to her huge collection of work. She has been more than proactive recently, announcing plans to release more music and even music she wants to be released once she dies.

Despite jokes about her body for years, she has always promoted being comfortable with her own body. The industry has always criticized her appearance and her fashion choices. In parodies or cartoons, her body was made into sometimes extreme caricatures.

“It used to [bother me] when I was real young in the business, when I first moved to Nashville. I didn’t quite know how to take it, but anymore there’s not a road show on the road that don’t make some sort of jokes. A lot of the country music people — good friends of mine — they do jokes. One act [says] ‘Do you know what’s worse than a giraffe with a sore throat?…Dolly Parton with a chest cold.’ You have to get used to it,” she said to Carson in the same interview.

Dolly Parton on Body Image

Parton has been a huge advocate for creating positive body image ideals in this country during her career.

Notably, her music was the shining factor and spotlight of the original Netflix film, “Dumplin.'”

The movie is about a teenage girl who finds inspiration in old Dolly hits. She learns to be more secure with her body size as she enters the world of beauty pageants.

Dolly Parton expressed while talking about the film her concern for girls in this age with social media and entertainment constantly showing sometimes unrealistic body standards.

“(This movie) shows that you don’t have to be physically beautiful. You don’t have to look like a supermodel. I really worry a lot about young girls today because they think they have to look like the models or the people on television. We need to be accepting of ourselves in how we are,” Parton said in an interview with People.

She calls herself a “hog at heart” and admits she worked hard to have to maintain a certain look during her career.

The soundtrack from Dolly Parton includes her original song, “Girl in the Movies” as well as hits from other artists like Sia, Elle King, and Miranda Lambert.

H/T: Wide Open Country