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Flashback: Dolly Parton Joins Johnny Carson for an Awkward Conversation on 'The Tonight Show'

During Dolly Parton's 1977 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (featured above), the conversation took an interesting turn. Carson questions Parton about her figure and the host makes a surpising comment that leaves the audience and Dolly in stitches.

"I've always been pretty well blessed," Parton says. "People are always asking if they're real --"

Carson interjects that he would never ask that question.

"I have certain guidelines on this show, but I would give about a year's pay to peek under there," the host says.

It's difficult to imagine a late night show host today making the comment today, but Carson was known for pushing the envelope. (His rumored racy response to Zsa Zsa Gabor, repeated in this clip by Jane Fonda, is further proof.)

A longer clip of Parton's appearance, which can be viewed here, features the country legend discussing the prevalance of "Dolly jokes" in the industry. The country legend told Carson that there was a time when jokes made at her expense got under her skin.

"It used to [bother me] when I was real young in the business, when I first moved to Nashville," she said. "I didn't quite know how to take it, but anymore there's not a road show on the road that don't make some sort of jokes. A lot of the country music people -- good friends of mine -- they do jokes. One act [says] 'Do you know what's worse than a giraffe with a sore throat?...Dolly Parton with a chest cold.' You have to get used to it."

Read More: 10 Dollyisms and What I Learned From Them

Of course, today Parton is (thankfully) more likely to be asked about her catalog of incredible songs than her chest size. But the successful business woman and a renowned philanthropist's quick wit, which gave us gems such as "It costs a lot to look this cheap," has served her well when it comes to dealing with late night hosts and even fellow musicians.

In a 1977 interview with Barbara Walters, the country star further discussed her public image.

"It's certainly a choice. I don't like to be like everybody else," Parton said. "I've often made the statement that I'd never stoop so low as to be fashionable. That's the easiest thing in the world to do. So I just decided that I would do something that would at least get the attention. Once they got past the shock of the ridiculous way I looked and all that then they would see there are parts of me to be appreciated. I'm very real where it counts -- and that's inside."

When Walters asked if the "Jolene" singer ever felt as though she was being made into a joke, Parton let the interviewer know she is -- and always has been -- in control.

"All these years, the people have thought the joke was on me, but it's actually been on the public. I know exactly what I'm doing and I can change it at any time. I make more jokes about myself than anybody."

Parton would return to Johnny Carson's show numerous times throughout the years. In 1989, she played a tune dedicated to Carson, who hosted The Tonight Show for 30 years.

Now Watch: Dolly Parton Wants to Recreate Her 1978 'Playboy' Cover

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Flashback: Dolly Parton Joins Johnny Carson for an Awkward Conversation on 'The Tonight Show'