- (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Dolly Parton has attempted to put rumors about her sexual orientation to rest. The country singer and actress adamantly denied that she was having a lesbian relationship with her best friend, Judy Ogle.
Parton has been married to Carl Thomas Dean for 46 years, making it a significant marriage for the superstar. Though not often seen together, Parton has made that relationship a priority in her life. Last year she told the press that she and Dean were "really proud of our marriage. It's the first for both of us. And the last."
Rumors persisted, however, that she was carrying on a secret relationship with Ogle after the two were seen together frequently.
"Judy and I have been best friends since we were like in the third and fourth grade," Parton explained in an interview on Nightline. "We still just have a great friendship and relationship, and I love her as much as I love the whole world, but we're not romantically involved."
She then compared her relationship with Ogle to that of best friends Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King. "Like Gayle, her friend, Judy, my friend … (people) just think that you can't be that close to somebody."
Adding fuel to the rumors is the fact that Parton is known for her openness to the homosexual community and hosts an annual "Gay Day" at her Dollywood Park in Tennessee. She told Nightline that when she started hosting the event, she began receiving threats from groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, which is still active in the area.
"When it first started, there were people giving us threats. I still get threats, but like I said, 'I'm in the business.' I just don't feel like I have to explain myself. I love everybody," she added.
Parton has been a country music legend for several years and is known as the Queen of Country Music by fans. She has composed over 3,000 songs, many of which are still hits today. Most recently, the ballad "I Will Always Love You" was brought back to popularity with the death of Whitney Houston, who covered the song for her movie "The Bodyguard."
Parton is 66 years old and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.