Dolly Parton Doesn’t Feel Threatened by the Real-Life Jolene Anymore — Here’s Why
Dolly Parton created one of country music's most fabled heroines when she wrote her song "Jolene," telling the story of a woman with "Flaming locks of auburn hair," "Ivory skin" and "Eyes of emerald green." In the song, Jolene is a woman whose beauty is so incomparable that, if she's coming after your man, all you can do is beg her to stop.
Jolene's the stuff of country music lore, but she's also based on a real person, according to stories Parton has told in interviews. During a stop on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2019, she explained that Jolene was based on a bank teller that she and her husband, Carl Dean, knew long ago.
"Well, the real story was about my husband," Parton says. "This girl who worked at the bank when we first got married. You know, this beautiful redhead. And he was spending more time at the bank than we had money. And I thought, 'Well, that ain't gonna work out too good!'"
As a newlywed, Parton was intimidated by this bank teller, she explains. However, during a recent conversation with E! News' Daily Pop, she says that after reconnecting with "Jolene" a few years ago, she no longer feels quite so threatened. Fans might think that her 55-year marriage to her devoted husband might've been the thing that cooled her jealousy, but the truth is much less romantic.
"She was broad as a barn," Parton says drily. "So I didn't feel so threatened anymore. I thought, there's my revenge."
During her 2019 Tonight Show stop, she also recalled the incident of meeting "Jolene" later in life, saying that her "beautiful red hair" had gone gray. "She used to wear a D cup, now she wears Depends," Parton joked.
The true Jolene — if she really exists — remains shrouded in mystery, as Parton won't divulge the woman's real name. However, she tells the Daily Pop that these days, a "Jolene" figure coming to sweep away her husband doesn't always sound so bad.
"Every once in a while I see Carl leaned back, snoring in his La-Z-Boy chair, and I think, 'Where's Jolene when I need her?' You can have him now," the singer adds.
See Dolly Parton's Life and Career in Pictures