Aunt Dolly

​​I’d like to start this entry by saying “Hello!”. Perhaps you are here because you are a regular reader, or perhaps you are here ​​because Kathie Lee Gifford told you to “Google” me during the 4th hour of The Today Show this morning, and that search brought you to my door. Either way I’m thrilled to welcome you to my crazy world. Perhaps I should explain.

​​Kathie Lee was my father’s first client as a baby agent at what was then the William Morris Agency, and the rest as they say is history. She’s like family and has always been so supportive of me and of my dreams, which is why she was so kind to present me to her viewership this morning… a kind of professional debutante, if you will. A girlfriend of mine actually captured a picture of my parents and I on camera, so I’ve included it in the photo above. Had I known I was going to be on camera I probably would have avoided my lesbian power suit, but that’s neither here nor there. And that wave! I don't know what I was thinking with that wave. I never did pageants I promise.

As to why we were even there at the taping, it was to see my Aunt Dolly perform in the Today Show summer concert series. And yes… as the picture suggests I do mean THAT Dolly.

Dolly Parton.

Again… Perhaps I should explain.

(Aunt Dolly and me riding together in a parade in 2000)

I’ve known Dolly Parton since I was a little girl, but to me she has always just been Aunt Dolly. She talks openly about how though she never had children of her own, she hasn’t missed the joy that children bring, because in addition to her actual nieces and nephews, whenever she meets a child that she falls in love with, she “adopts” them, in a way. They become like a niece or nephew to her, and accordingly get to call her Aunt Dolly. I was one of those kids. Miley Cyrus is also one of those kids. Does that make us God Sisters? Do I need to learn how to twerk?

ANYWAY. My family and I have spent time with her at her home in the Tennessee Smokey Mountains and I’ve travelled with her on her big “Dolly” tour bus. Or when she was in LA we’d have weekend playdates where she would dress me up in her wigs and costumes and let me walk around in her platform shoes (which even at 9 years old were too small for my feet… I’m a Sasquatch I know it’s fine). She would even put fake nails on my fingers, not quite as long as hers but still substantial for a 5th grader, and then teach me how to play them. Cue the intro to “9 to 5”. Having grown up to fully understand who Dolly Parton is not only as an artist but as a woman I look back on those weekends with her in awe. She took that awkward, chubby little girl with terrible teeth wearing a bow the size of Texas into her arms and made her feel like the most important girl in the world. She still does today… except I’m not so little anymore and 10 years of orthodontics later I finally got my teeth fixed. Thank God.

So this morning I woke up at 6am to get to Rockefeller Center to catch Aunt Dolly’s performance in the plaza. She was beyond awesome. I would never for the world reveal her age on this blog, but I will say that to watch her up there singing and performing with as much presence and command as she has her whole career is incredibly inspiring. As a little girl running around her beach house in and writing “I <3 Aunt Dolly” in the sand I never understood that part of her. I loved listening to her on my tapes (yes, cassette tapes), and appreciated how beautiful she was up on stage, but I didn’t appreciate the artistry. As an adult performer I look at this woman in complete awe, and that’s very special for me. To be able to have someone in my life that I have loved and looked up to as a woman since I was a little girl, but can also now look up to as artist as well is so inspiring. I feel the same way about my mother actually, which is why the picture below is now one of my most favorite pictures in the world: a brunette in a lesbian power suit with the two most incredibly talented, brilliant, and beautiful blondes in the world. Brilliantly beautiful and beautifully brilliant... nothing more powerful than that! I’ll have whatever they’re having… and when I find out what it is I’ll let you know so you can have it too.

To being brilliantly beautiful and beautifully brilliant…

With Grace and Good Humor,


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My name is Mary Lane Haskell and my two "claims to fame" are that I have Dolly Parton's fax number and that Reese Witherspoon once liked a post on my Instagram.  I am an actor, a writer, and a profound Chipotle enthusiast making my way in Los Angeles while trying to stay true to my family's southern roots, all with grace and a touch a good humor.  I'm so glad you're here!

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