Whoever said age is just a number could have been describing Dolly Parton. At 77-years-young, the legendary entertainer shows no signs of slowing down, continually adding new accomplishments to her already impressive resume. During her seven-decade career, Parton has more than 25 No. 1 songs, and has been inducted into the Country Music, Gospel Music, Songwriter and Rock & Roll Halls of Fame. Her upcoming rock album is just the latest examples of Parton’s ever-growing creative empire—and her desire to continue to create and inspire.
Indeed, one look at Dolly and it’s hard not to marvel at her energy, drive and age-defying beauty. To what does she attribute her youthful glow and signature looks? “Good doctors, good lighting and good makeup,” she says with a giggle. “I have a good attitude about it. I’m busy and I don’t have time to think about how old I am or not.”
But Dolly does admit to having a few other secrets that spark her lit-from-within joy, ageless spunk and timeless beauty — and they aren’t what you think!
Dolly Parton age-defying secret: “Wear out instead of rust out”
It takes a lot of stamina to maintain Parton’s busy schedule, and her positive attitude definitely contributes to her youthful zip. “They always say you are only as old as you feel. Well, the truth is you are only as old as you are,” she confesses. “But you’ve got to make the most of it and I do have a good attitude. There’s not a thing I can do about [aging] except be the best I can be at whatever age that may be and to keep busy and stay focused, just dwell on doing good.”
For Parton, a big part of her age-defying strategy is to keep active. “It’s important that people stay busy,” says Parton whose new album, Rockstar, doesn’t even release until Nov. 17th, but she’s already scored No. 1 hits with the first two singles —“World on Fire” and “Bygones,” featuring Rob Halford from Judas Priest.
“It’s also important that you keep your eyes and ears and your heart open to things that can be done and make a difference in the ways that you can,” she says. “I just don’t want to ever get stale. I always say, ‘I want to wear out rather than rust out,’ and I’m going to be doing that until I keel over. I just love making things happen.”
Dolly Parton age-defying secret: “Giving just makes you feel good!”
Parton has long been known for doing good in the world. Her philanthropic nature is legendary. In fact, in 2022 Amazon founder Jeff Bezos gave Parton 100 million dollars to distribute to the charities of her choice because, as he said on Twitter, “she gives with her heart…What she’s done for kids, and literacy, and so many other things, is incredible.”
Parton thanked Bezos and pledged to do her best “to do good things” with the money. “It does make me feel good,” Parton says of helping others. “When they say it’s better to give than receive, there’s a lot of truth in that. I love to give, and I honestly believe when you get in a position to help you really should help and so I just always feel a need and then fill it.”
When the pandemic was starting Dolly says she thought, “Oh my. This is going to get serious. I need to pray about what I need to do to help in any way I can.” So Dolly felt led to donate money to the research. “I just feel like it’s my place to give back. I’ve been so blessed myself that I really am happy to give back and to do whatever I can.”
Dolly Parton age secret: “I don’t always clean my face at night!”
The award-winning entertainer was born one of 12 children in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee and grew up in a home that was poor, but filled with love. Parton’s father was a good provider but never learned to read.
That inspired the singer/songwriter/actress to start the Imagination Library in 1995, a book gifting program that provides free books for children from birth to age 5. “I just love to read anything I can get my hands on and I always say my favorite little book is still The Little Engine That Could, which is an attitude, and it’s the first book in our Imagination Library,” she says.
Parton’s beloved family has shaped her life in many ways, and she’s grateful for their legacy. She learned a lot from her beloved mother, Avie Lee, and she says she inherited some wonderful attributes for which she’s grateful. “I’m blessed with some good skin. I get that from my mom,” she says. “She had all those kids and didn’t have hardly any stretch marks after all those years!”
When asked about her skincare routine, she says she doesn’t fuss much. “I have good skin,” she smiles. “And I don’t always clean my face at night. I just think you should clean your face in a 24-hour period. I hate taking my makeup off at night in case somebody comes to the door. I’d rather take it off in the morning and clean my face and do my little ritual before I get it all ready to go again.”
“So I’m thinking it doesn’t matter when you clean your face, as long as you do and take care of it once a day. I use a decent moisturizer and clean it. I use those little oil mineral pads and I often put Vaseline on them before I put my make up on. I let that stay on for a while.”
But no matter what, there’s one thing that we all know: Dolly is beautiful and timeless, inside and out.
Deborah Evans Price believes everyone has a story to tell and, as a journalist, she considers it a privilege to share those stories with the world. Deborah contributes to Billboard, CMA, Jesus Calling, First for Women, Woman’s World and Country Top 40 with Fitz, among other media outlets. Author of the CMA Awards Vault and Country Faith, Deborah is the 2013 winner of the Country Music Association’s Media Achievement Award and the 2022 recipient of the Cindy Walker Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Western Artists. Deborah lives on a hill outside Nashville with her husband, Gary, son Trey and cat Toby.