Kenny Rogers' Ex-Wife Opens Up About Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton appeared to be completely bereft when her friend and collaborator Kenny Rogers passed away on March 20 at the age of 81. She paid tribute to her friend on Instagram where she posted: "You never know how much you love somebody until they're gone. I've had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend. So you be safe with God and just know that I will always love you, dolly."

Rogers and Parton met for the first time in 1983 when they first worked together on the hit tune Islands in the Stream. The song, which was written by the 1970s pop group the Bee Gees, was a big hit, even for both Rogers and Parton who were both already at the height of their careers when they recorded the duet. The song, which went platinum, became the first in a series of successful collaborations between both stars (via & Meetings).

Rogers and Parton had chemistry

Fans could feel the chemistry between Rogers and Parton, and there was speculation that there was more to the relationship than met the eye. But it wasn't until 30 years after Islands in the Stream was first recorded, that Parton (who is happily married) told interviewers that she wasn't Roger's type, while Rogers joked that Parton was "hard to look at." Rogers didn't deny that he and Parton had chemistry, but they were happier keeping the tension where it was.

In 2013, Parton also told ABC, "It never crossed our minds because he was with people... I've been with my husband for 48 years. That's not to say I'm blind or dead." And when Rogers teased her by saying, "She never thought I was handsome," Parton replied, "I'd always thought he was handsome. I just never thought of him that way. I liked him too much. That would screw up everything."

Rogers' ex-wife didn't have a problem with his and Parton's relationship

With all the flirting and the chemistry between Rogers and Parton, it was natural for fans and observers to assume that Parton's husband, Carl Thomas Dean, and Kenny's wife at the time, actress Marianne Gordon, wouldn't have any of it. But in a recent, exclusive interview with Closer Weekly, Rogers' ex-wife says the relationship between her then-husband and his attractive singing partner — including flirting and all — never bothered her, not even then. "I never felt uncomfortable at all," Gordon said in the interview, which she gave a few days after Rogers passed away. "I just knew him so well. But, it's funny that you say that. We had a tennis pro who traveled with us, Doug Dean asked me too. I told him Kenny said I like her [Dolly] as a friend and we have a great thing on stage. We'd lose it. There is sexual tension and teasing each other and it would screw it up."

Still, Gordon didn't totally give Dolly Parton a free pass, because she also thinks both Parton and Rogers may have been tempted to take things further at one point in time. Gordon admitted that she had thought Parton might have made a move because, as she said, "It's entered my mind because she always said she thought like a man. I don't mean it badly. Dolly is a fun girl."

Marianne Gordon said she was never jealous of Dolly Parton

Yet, there was no reason for Gordon to be jealous of Rogers and Parton, because as the former actress put it, "I always felt his total focus was on me. If anyone wanted anything from him, he was looking me in the eye and said, 'Whatever she wants to do.' I think that when he turned 50, I didn't have his full attention anymore but it looked like he still wanted me here. His life was such an open book and after two years he felt this craving, this longing. He said he felt he was having a mid-life crisis. He felt like his career was fading."

Despite the lack of a romantic relationship — or maybe because of that — Rogers and Parton's relationship outlived Rogers' marriage, which ended in 1993. Four years after that, Rogers was married to his fifth wife, Wanda Miller, who was 24 years his junior. Before he passed away, the country music singer said that his last wife, and the mother of his twin boys, was his real soulmate (via Your Tango).