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Dolly Parton Once Entered a Dolly Look-Alike Contest and Lost — To a Man

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We’ve always known that Dolly Parton has a wicked sense of humor. (She once quipped, “I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren’t in the book. Then I tried eating the book and it tasted better than most of the diets!”). Here’s a story that proves Dolly knows two things: country music and how to make people laugh. In an interview while promoting her 2013 memoir, Dream More (Buy from Amazon, $14.30), the country legend shared a hilarious anecdote about the time she entered a look-alike contest as herself — and lost.

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Years ago, Dolly decided to enter a drag queen celebrity impersonator contest in Los Angeles without revealing her identity. “They had a bunch of Chers and Dollys that year, so I just over-exaggerated — made my beauty mark bigger, the eyes bigger, the hair bigger, everything,” she told ABC. “All these beautiful drag queens had worked for weeks and months getting their clothes. So I just got in the line and I just walked across… but I got the least applause.”

Considering Dolly Parton is already pretty over-the-top, we can only imagine what an amplified version of herself looks like. However, the only thing we’d want to see more than that is the man who beat Dolly and won the contest. We’d bet Dolly, who is only five feet tall, was dwarfed by her competitors — even in heels! And though Dolly didn’t reign supreme at her own look-alike contest, she’ll always be the only Dolly Parton in our hearts. 

Dolly isn’t the only celebrity to be beat out by someone else impersonating them. Ernie Hudson, who played Winston Zeddmore in the 1984 version of Ghostbusters, auditioned for the same role in the animated TV series and ultimately lost out to Arsenio Hall. “I went in to read the material, and the guy said, ‘No, no, no, that’s all wrong! When Ernie Hudson did it in the movie…’ And I’m like, ‘Well, wait a minute: I am Ernie Hudson!'”

For Dolly, the sting of losing eventually went away. Of course, with her theme park, a music career that’s still chugging along, and her amazing contribution toward the effort to end the Covid pandemic, Dolly has plenty of other things to occupy her thoughts. 

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