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Dolly Parton cancels concerts amid threats

By MARK SCHWED

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Singer-actress Dolly Parton has canceled her upcoming concerts on the advice of a security consultant while private detectives and police investigate a six-year string of threats against her life.

Miss Parton, who starred in the movies '9 to 5' and 'Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,' was protected by increased security forces at her suburban Brentwood estate today.

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The blonde entertainer, who carries a snub-nose .22-caliber pistol in her purse, has made no comment on the threats, but a spokeswoman said she was taking the threats 'very seriously.'

Don Warden, Miss Parton's road manager, said investigators speculate the threats are coming from an ex-convict who believes some of Miss Parton's songs are about him. Warden said she was first threatened in Wheeling, W.Va., nearly seven years ago.

The latest threat occurred Saturday night in Owensboro, Ky., detective Clyde Thorpe said.

A woman called the police department asking whether Miss Parton would have police protection during a show at the Rivermont Executive Inn. She said she was concerned for the singer's safety because she knew a man who 'hated the ground Dolly Parton walked on' and planned to harm her.

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Asked to identify herself, the woman replied, 'If I do, he'll kill me,' Thorpe said. The woman then hung up.

Two sold-out shows were canceled and Miss Parton left Owensboro under police escort.

'Against a background of other threats which have been assessed by Miss Parton's security consultant, Gavin DeBecker, the three performances scheduled for Jan. 20, 21 and 22 in Texas and Louisiana have also been canceled,' Katie Valk, a spokeswoman for the entertainer, said from New York City Monday night.

'This decision was made to avoid immediate and direct danger of Miss Parton, her musicians and crew,' she said.

The concerts in Fort Worth, Beaumont and New Orleans 'are the only dates she's got booked in the immediate future so there was nothing else to cancel,' Miss Valk said.

Miss Parton hired 'a detective agency in Los Angeles that has a reputation for investigating threats on the lives of celebrities,' Thorpe said. 'We have been in touch with them and have offered our assistance.'

In the first incident in 1976, the night before a scheduled concert, WWVA-AM radio disc jockey Buddy Ray received calls threatening both him and Miss Parton if she appeared on the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree.

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'Nobody blamed her for not doing the show,' said Cathy Gurley, who was working at WWVA at the time.

'We later learned that the man was in the audience that night,' she said.

Police arrested a Wheeling man and charged him on March 29, 1976, with making threatening telephone calls, Miss Gurley said. After a psychiatric evaluation he was sent to a mental institution. Police now believe the man has been released, Miss Gurley said.

Miss Parton has been threatened in two other cities recently, officials said.

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