Dolly Parton has lived quite a life, which no one can deny. Now in her early 70s, the star of sound, stage, and screen has had a career that spans nearly 60 years! Over the years, there have been many surprising facts that have come to light about Dolly’s amazing life, but there are still plenty of secrets that most fans don’t know about her!
Looking Good In Wigs
Dolly Parton has always been very careful about looking her best whenever she goes anywhere. That extends to her hair, of course, which she has become known for over the years. Her fans expect large hairstyles full of her signature blonde hair, but after a while, her real hair couldn’t take the abuse. She resorted to wearing wigs and hasn’t looked back!
One thing many people don’t know about Dolly Parton is that she’s actually married. What’s more, this isn’t a new arrangement of any kind: she’s been married to Carl Dean for over 50 years! The two were married in 1966 when Dolly was 20 years old and their love has lasted the test of time. Dolly certainly has one of the most successful marriages of any celebrity.
Famous Relative Miley Cyrus
Did you know that Dolly Parton is actually related to Miley Cyrus? Well…they’re not blood related, as Dolly is Miley’s godmother. Still, it’s pretty surprising. Dolly was a big influence on Miley’s father, Billy Ray Cyrus, and he credited her with giving him his big break. Miley acknowledged the connection when she performed “Jolene,” a famous Dolly Parton song.
Reaching A Wider Audience
Although Dolly Parton has been in front of audiences in one way or another since she was 12 years old, she got her first real break on The Porter Wagoner Show in the 1960s. The show was a great experience for Dolly, who regularly got to play her own music and eventually grew her fan base to be even bigger than the host’s himself!
How’d She Lose?
Dolly likes to go undercover from time to time, like when she participated in a Dolly Parton lookalike contest one Halloween. She was competing against men dressed in drag and tried to make things fair by exaggerating her hair and makeup. Still, she actually lost the contest! Even more surprisingly, none of the men that participated recognized her!
Just Like She Remembered It
It’s very easy to get a little wistful when remembering your childhood, and Dolly Parton is certainly no different than the rest of us when it comes to reminiscing. The difference is that Dolly had the means to restore the modest home she grew up in. She did make sure to add some new features, though: electricity and plumbing were a must the second time around.
Not Everyone Loves Dolly
Dolly Parton has never been afraid to be different and she has always stood up for others that are different, too, including the LGBT community. This didn’t sit well with some groups, including the infamous Ku Klux Klan. Dolly ran afoul of the KKK when she made an official “Gay Day” at Dollywood, her famous theme park. Dolly said that the threats from the group didn’t scare her, however.
Immortalized In Her Hometown
Like many stars that came from humble towns, Dolly Parton is immensely popular in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee. For years, the town has offered a 28-part walking tour of the significant parts of the town in relation to Dolly’s life. In addition, the town added a bronze statue of a young Dolly Parton, which was created by a talented artist named Jim Gray.
Elvis Was Denied
Many people know of Dolly Parton’s classic song, “I Will Always Love You,” and even more know of the cover version that Whitney Houston made into a sensation years later. However, Whitney wasn’t the first person to want to do a version of the song. Elvis Presley wanted to, as well. Unfortunately, the proposed deal would yield half of her publishing rights for the song, so she turned him down.
Plastic Surgery Is No Big Deal
While many Hollywood stars and musicians try to hide their plastic surgeries, Dolly Parton has always been open about the times she’s gone under the knife. “If anything’s saggin’, baggin’, or draggin’, I get it nipped, tucked, or sucked,” she memorably quipped. To Dolly, keeping herself looking good is nothing to be ashamed of, even if she needs a little help from plastic surgeons now and then.
The Cover Girl
Dolly Parton added to her impressive resume by earning a cover spot on a 1978 issue of Playboy magazine. However, she did not pose nude in the magazine, as she refused to do any kind of nudity. She was the first country singer to appear on the cover, which she said was helpful as she continued to try to market herself to the mainstream.
Dolly Parton was born into a very humble family, as her father was a farmer and her mother focused on singing in the church choir and raising the kids. Her parents actually got married when they were in the eighth grade, but Dolly said theirs was a love story: “Daddy loved Mama and he loved his kids,” she said. “Mama never loved anybody but my daddy.”
Picked On By Bullies
Bullies were vicious during Dolly’s day, and she was a target as a girl from a very poor family. When she began appearing on local television to sing, the bullying intensified, but this time because the bullies were jealous of her talent and the recognition she received. This experience led Dolly to work to end bullying once she became famous.
A Musical Family
Although Dolly is obviously the biggest star of the family, she was definitely not the only one with musical talent. Some of her siblings were professional musicians, and her youngest sister Stella appeared on TV shows such as The Dukes of Hazzard. Dolly featured her talented siblings in Dollywood, where her brother Randy and sister Cassie would often perform.
Inspired By A True Story
Singers often base their songs off of real-life happenings or events that took place in their lives, so it’s no surprise that the Dolly Parton song “Jolene” fits this category. The song was inspired by a redheaded women who worked at the local bank and would flirt with Dolly’s husband, Carl. However, she based the character’s description off a young fan who once asked her for her autograph.
Obsessed With Butterflies
Dolly Parton has always been a huge fan of butterflies, from what they symbolize to the spring season that they signify. Her 1974 album and song “Love Is Like A Butterfly” is based not only on her favorite insect, but also her feelings about her husband, Carl. If you need further proof of her love of butterflies, go to Dollywood, which is full of butterfly decorations!
Dolly Parton is often thought of as a talented singer, actress, or stage performer. However, her writing talents are usually overlooked because of her larger-than-life persona. Still, she has written over 5,000 songs in her life, which makes her one of the most prolific songwriters of all time! She began writing songs way back when she was just five years old.
It Was All A Dream
Dolly Parton has never had any doubts about what she wanted to be: she wanted to be a superstar. She was so focused on her goal that she began performing on local TV and radio shows in elementary school and performed at the Grand Ole Opry by age 13. She wasted no time in pursuing her career after she finished high school, as she moved to Nashville the day after her graduation.
Dolly Becomes An Executive
Although Dolly Parton has always focused first and foremost on creating new music, she has also found that her ambition has taken her in other directions, too. She established her own publishing company early in her career and eventually founded Dolly Records in 2007. This approach has allowed her to truly be her own woman as her career has grown.
Hiding In Plain Sight
For someone whose appearance already includes a lot of makeup, flamboyant wigs, and colorful outfits, it’s probably pretty easy to go out in disguise and fool everyone. That’s just what Dolly Parton would do when she didn’t want to be recognized, in fact. However, she found that when her fame reached a certain level, she would often be recognized no matter what she did!
You don’t get as far as Dolly Parton has come without having a few loyal friends. That’s what Dolly has in the form of best friend Judy Ogle. The two are so close that they are seen together as much, if not more, than Dolly and her husband! Their closeness even sparked rumors that they may be romantically involved, although Dolly said that their love is merely that of two friends.
Dolly Parton is not the type of person to live her life in regret of the few things that she hasn’t done. However, there were times when Dolly thought that she might regret that she never had kids. In fact, she and her husband Carl always assumed they would have children together. However, for one reason or another, the time never came. Nowadays, Dolly says that she’s okay with the fact that they never had children.
Working 9 to 5
Not only did Dolly Parton star in and write the hit song for the movie 9 to 5, but she also wrote the music for the Broadway musical based on the movie! Although the musical received mixed reviews, one thing that critics loved was Dolly’s music and lyrics, which were praised for their variety and likability.
How much did critics and her peers enjoy the music from 9 to 5: The Musical? Well, she actually received a Tony Award nomination, which is the highest honor possible in the world of theater. Although Dolly was not chosen to win the award, she was extremely proud to have been nominated. She called her time working on a Broadway production “a great adventure and a great experience.”
Why She Didn’t Have Kids
When asked to open up more about her decision not to have children, Dolly Parton admitted that she initially worried that it was a selfish choice. She thought maybe that she had put her career first and missed her chance to be a mother. However, she has come to realize that she still had a part in raising many children: “My younger brothers and sisters lived with me and Carl for many years – and we’re very close to our nieces and nephews.”
One thing that sets Dolly Parton apart from others in the entertainment business is her ability to laugh at herself. She often says that she based her style off of the “town trollop” in her hometown. She said that she always tries to look a little cheap as part of her signature look. “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap!” she jokes.
Like many girls in America, Dolly Parton was quite influenced by Barbie as a girl. In fact, listeners will recognize that “Backwoods Barbie” was a song inspired by this fact. In the song, she plays off of her signature style while making it clear that although she isn’t a perfect recreation of Barbie, she took her Barbie inspiration and added her own twist to it.
A Little Bit Corny
As mentioned earlier, Dolly Parton’s songwriting career actually began when she was just five years old. In fact, when she wrote her first song, her mom actually had to write down the words since she hadn’t learned to print yet. What would a five-year-old write a song about? Why, her favorite doll, of course! In the song, she raved about her doll’s “corn silk hair and big brown eyes.”
Plenty of Love
While their modest home was very cramped with 12 kids in the family, there was always plenty of love to go around! Sadly, it’s hard to maintain close relationships with so many brothers and sisters and one sister in particular has had it in for Dolly in recent years. Stella said that Dolly pushed her away when she became more famous and that as a result, she finally “gave up.”
Covered in Tattoos?
Even in recent years, rumors have continued to swirl around Dolly Parton. Most recently, a very strange rumor has surfaced that relates to her tendency to wear long sleeves and pants. The idea is that she’s actually concealing her arms and legs because they’re completely covered in tattoos! It seems unlikely, but the rumors haven’t stopped yet, regardless.