Under the Influence

Dolly Parton entered a Dolly Parton look-alike contest. And lost.

Dolly Parton – there's no one like her. Well, almost no one.
GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Dolly Parton performs on the Pyramid Stage during Day 3 of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm on June 29, 2014 in Glastonbury, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images) (Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Dolly Parton is one of the most successful country artists of all time.

Parton also holds three Guinness World Records. She has the record for the most decades on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country songs chart by a female performer (seven decades and counting). She has the most number one hits on the Hot Country charts with 25. And she has the most total hits on the Country charts by a female artist, with an astounding 109.

Parton is one-of-a-kind – and also has one of the most instantly recognizable looks in the entertainment industry. Big blonde wigs, high heels, bright costumes, and a big sense of humour about it all. When asked about her small feet once, she said they were tiny because nothing grows in the shade. As Parton says, she is a self-made woman, and she has the doctor bills to prove it.

In her memoir, Dream More, Parton tells a very amusing story. One day on a trip to Los Angeles, she heard about a Dolly Parton look-alike contest that was being held at a local bar. She had a kooky idea – wouldn't it be funny to go down there and enter the contest herself. To do that, she decided to over-exaggerate everything about her appearance – she made her beauty mark bigger, her eyes bigger, her hair bigger – she made everything bigger. When she was all dolled up, Parton and a group of her friends made their way down to the contest.

When Parton got to the bar, she didn't let on that she was the real Dolly Parton. She was given a number, like everybody else, and told to get in line.

The contest was to be judged by the audience. Contestants were instructed to walk across the stage, and the votes would be cast by applause. The biggest applause would win. So one by one, the contestants paraded in front of the audience.

When it came to Parton's turn, she smiled and sashayed across the stage. And lost. To a man. Not only that, Dolly Parton got the least applause. She said she was dying of laughter inside. Little did the contest know they had the real thing in their midst.

Dolly Parton, there's no one like her. Well, almost no one.

For more on Marketing Contests and other stories from Under the Influence, click or tap the play button above to hear the full episode. Find more episodes on the CBC Listen app or subscribe to the podcast.