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Dolly Parton’s 75th birthday: 9 ways the country queen saved 2020

If there were ever a celebrity deserving of a national holiday, a strong case could be made for Dolly Parton. The musician, actor, businesswoman and humanitarian turned 75 on Tuesday, yet boasts myriad accomplishments to account for many lifetimes — from earning over a dozen Grammys as a solo artist to rescuing civilization from a deadly pandemic through donations spent on medical research.

And in the annus horribilis that was 2020, we needed Dolly more than ever.

As a tribute to the queen of country music, who has crooned to the delight of American audiences for more than half a century — all the way back to her first performance at the Grand Ole Opry at 13 — we’ve compiled a shortlist of Ms. Parton’s most life-affirming moments of 2020 alone — because there ain’t time enough on her birthday to recap her complete life’s work.

Dolly Parton: the TV mogul

Fans of ’90s teen television had a field day when they learned that the “Jolene” singer had been a silent producer of the sci-fi thriller series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” via her production company Sandollar Entertainment. Though Parton never copped to any involvement in the series, many speculated there’s a reason why the character Buffy’s birthday is also Jan. 19.

Dolly Parton: the smack-talking activist

Country music has long been politically divided, but the “9 to 5” star has always been on the right side of history — such as when she spoke out in support of Black Lives Matter protests prompted by the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky at the hands of police. “I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen,” she said at the time. “And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!”

Dolly Parton poses for Playboy in 1978.
Dolly Parton poses for Playboy in 1978.
Getty Images

Dolly Parton: the silver fox

The self-proclaimed “Dumb Blonde” has teased a return to the Playboy centerfold for months — on the condition that the shoot is “in good taste” and accompanied by a thorough interview with the buxom legend. Playboy has yet to confirm the collaboration, so let’s assume they’re still putting final touches on the undoubtedly iconic spread.

Dolly Parton: the ageless beauty

The woman, who once joked that “it costs a lot of money to look this cheap,” later told Oprah Winfrey on the AppleTV+ series “The Oprah Conversation” that she doesn’t count her years because she “ain’t got time to be old.” Referring to her history of cosmetic procedures — a topic about which Parton has always been refreshingly honest — she joked that, in 20 more years, she might “look like a cartoon.”

“I’ll have on the makeup. I’ll look as young as my plastic surgeons will allow me and [with] all the makeup and lighting and all that,” she mused. “But I think more than anything, it’s about what comes from inside you.”

Book cover for memoir "Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics"
Her memoir, “Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics,” debuted in November 2020.
Chronicle Books

Dolly Parton: the inspiration

The Post’s book critic Mackenzie Dawson called her memoir, “Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics” (Chronicle Books), which debuted in November, “a delightful romp down memory lane.” Co-written by Nashville-based music journalist Robert K. Oermann, the book tells the story of Parton’s life through her own poetry, featuring autobiographical songs such as, “Coat of Many Colors,” about a patchwork jacket crafted for her by her mother as a child.

“I never shied away from any topic, whether it was suicide or prostitution or women’s rights or whatever,” she writes in the book. “I was always like that and still am. Whatever it is, I can say it in a song, in my own way.”

Dolly Parton: the health hero

The Tennessee native made headlines, yet again, when news broke that she had donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University’s medical school in Nashville, where one of the preeminent coronavirus vaccines was being developed by Moderna. Ever the modest do-gooder, most were unaware of Parton’s involvement until a report about Moderna’s new therapy was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which thanked the “Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund” in the funding and disclosures section.

Dolly Parton: the bringer of cheer

At a time when viewers have been most desperate for new content, Parton brought good tidings to TV watchers with her appearance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, release of her self-produced Netflix musical “Christmas on the Square” and, finally, an intimate, televised performance of her 2020 holiday album “A Holly Dolly Christmas.”

split image of Dolly Parton and Barack Obama
Barack Obama called Dolly Parton’s Medal of Freedom snub one of his biggest regrets as president.
Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Dolly Parton: protector of Freedom

Last month, President Barack Obama finally admitted the biggest regret of his presidency: not awarding Dolly Parton a Presidential Medal of Freedom. In an interview with Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Obama claimed it was an oversight for which he takes full credit.

“That was a screw-up. I’m surprised. I think I assumed that she had already got one, and that was incorrect,” said Obama, then vowing to right the wrong. “She deserves one. I’ll call Biden!”

Dolly Parton: the guardian angel

As one last Christmas miracle (as far as we know!), Parton was said to have saved the life of 9-year-old actor Talia Hill, who was nearly mowed down by a vehicle on the set of “Christmas on the Square.”

“I was at the hot chocolate station, and they said go back to your beginning positions,” Hill told Inside Edition in December. “So there was a vehicle moving, and I was walking, and then somebody grabbed me and pulled me back, and I looked up and it was Dolly Parton.”

Parton comforted the shocked child as she quipped, “Well, I am an angel, you know,” according to Hill, pointing out that she indeed “plays an angel in the movie.”

Film still fo Dolly Parton as an angel in "Christmas in the Square."
Dolly Parton portrays a guardian angel in her 2020 Netflix musical “Christmas in the Square.”
©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Colle

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New York Post

The New York Post is a daily tabloid newspaper in New York City. The Post also operates NYPost.com, the celebrity gossip site PageSix.com and the entertainment site Decider.com.

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