Country music legend Dolly Parton said in a new interview that former President Donald Trump’s administration tried to give her the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, twice but she had to turn them down.
“I couldn’t accept it because my husband was ill,” Parton, 75, told NBC’s Today of Trump’s first offer, “and then they asked me again about it and I wouldn’t travel because of the Covid.”
In April last year, Parton donated $1m to help research and development of the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19.
Then, she told the BBC: “I’m sure many, many millions of dollars from many people went into that but I felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money that hopefully will grow into something great and help to heal this world. Lord knows we need it!”
Speaking to NBC, Parton said she had heard from the Biden administration but added: “Now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure.
“I don’t work for those awards. It’d be nice but I’m not sure that I even deserve it. But it’s a nice compliment for people to think that I might deserve it.”
Parton’s charity work spreads far wider than the battle against Covid, including work to boost childhood literacy.
She told TODAY she was “just happy that anything I do can help somebody else, and when I donated the money to the Covid fund, I just wanted it to do good. Evidently, it is.”
In November, the CBS Late Show host, Stephen Colbert, asked former president Barack Obama, who honored musicians including James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen, “How does Dolly Parton not have a presidential medal of freedom?”
Obama said: “That’s a mistake. I’m shocked. Actually, that was a screw-up, I’m surprised. I think I assumed that she’d already got one and that was incorrect. I’m surprised, she deserves one.”
Obama said he would “call Biden”.