Dolly Parton Reveals What It Would Take for Her to Retire

Dolly Parton CMA Fest
Dolly Parton at CMA Fest 2024

Dolly Parton, notorious for keeping busy, says there is one thing that could get her to step away for retirement.

Dolly Parton has no plans to retire anytime soon -- she's still happily working 9 to 5 and beyond -- but there is a contingency plan in place should she need to slow down. 

On Thursday, the 78-year-old icon sat down with ET's Rachel Smith for a conversation at CMA Fest in Nashville, Tennessee, and responded to one fan's inquiry about whether or not she plans to stop traveling, writing music, collaborating or any of the numerous other ventures she has dipped her toes into. 

"Not today," she joked. "Maybe -- someday I may have to. I've always said that if my husband was in ill health or needed me, I would most definitely pull way back." 

Parton has been married to Carl Thomas Dean -- who she met at a laundromat in the '60s -- for 58 years, with the pair having tied the knot on Memorial Day in 1966. She has previously opened up to ET about how Dean, 81, has been her biggest supporter throughout her prolific, decade-spanning career. 

In 2023, she said that despite being "different people" entirely, they work well together and have grown through so many phases of life by each other's side. 

"He loves music, but he's not in the music business at all, so we have different things to talk about, his world and my world," Parton shared at the time. "We have a lot of love and respect for each other, and I think the key to all of it -- we both have a crazy, warped sense of humor, so we have a lot of fun." 

As for other things that could make her take a step back from her increasingly busy life -- she most recently collabed with Beyoncé and announced she wrote a musical -- Parton says she would similarly slow down if her own health required it, even if there were "songs to write and things to do."

"As I mentioned before, I've kind of dreamed myself into a corner and I've got to be responsible for that," Parton told Thursday's crowd of always chasing down her next dream. "I'll always be doing something, but I may pull back a little bit here and there, now and then." 

She added, "Not today, that's what I said. I got to get some more groceries on the shelf and sell some more pies and cakes and brownies." 

Rachel Smith and Dolly Parton at CMA Fest on June 6, 2024 - Terry Wyatt/WireImage

Earlier in the week, ET spoke exclusively with Parton at her "Dolly! All Access Pop Up Experience" at Fan Fair X and discussed everything from her reaction to Beyoncé changing the words to "Jolene" for Cowboy Carter to her own upcoming album, Dolly Parton & Family: Smoky Mountain DNA -- Family, Faith & Fables. She also said sweetly gave credit to her husband of nearly six decades, saying that he has never tried to get in her way. 

"Well he's always proud of me," the "Coat of Many Colors" crooner shared. "He knows it's what I do, he knows it's what I love so he's never tried to slow that down." 

And slow down she will not! Parton's musical, Hello, I’m Dolly, opens in 2026. She also has a brand-new cookbook, Good Lookin' Cookin' -- which she penned with her sister, Rachel Parton George -- that hits stores on Sept. 17. 

She added of her husband's support, "He's just always been my best love and my best friend and he doesn't say do this or do that, I just go tell him what I'm doing and he says, 'Well that sounds like a pretty big job,' I say, 'Well it is, but I can do it.' ... He's always been proud of me."