How Dolly Parton Made Half a Billion Dollars and Found Joy in Not Having Children

25 Jun 2024

She's the queen of country music, an incredible beauty at 78, and one of the wealthiest singers in the world, with Forbes estimating her fortune at nearly half a billion dollars! That's just a small part of the achievements of the legendary Dolly Parton, who has been in the music industry for about 60 years and married to the same man for almost as long. Believe me, the story of this amazing woman will definitely surprise you!

Broadway to Stage Musical about Country Singer Dolly Parton!

Over her 60-year musical career, Dolly Parton has never ceased to amaze her fans. Moreover, she remains as popular as ever! Recently, the American country star announced a musical about herself titled Hello, I'm Dolly, set to premiere on Broadway in 2026.


What's more, other stars simply adore Dolly—recently, Beyoncé covered Dolly Parton's iconic hit Jolene, originally recorded by the country icon in 1973. 

One of the Richest Singers in the World Grew Up Without Water and Electricity!

Of course, we want to start the story of the queen of country music from the very beginning. Looking at the glamorous Parton, it's hard to believe that her upbringing was very poor. Dolly Parton was born on January 19, 1946, in a one-room cabin in Sevier County, Tennessee. She was the fourth of twelve children, and her family struggled with poverty.

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As Parton (in the photo she is in the upper right corner) herself admitted in an interview, she grew up in "dirt-poor" conditions, with no electricity or running water in their home. Moreover, her parents didn't even have enough money to pay the doctor, so they paid him with oatmeal.

You Can Visit Parton's Childhood Home!

Dollywood, the beloved theme park nestled in the scenic Smoky Mountains, offers a delightful tribute to Dolly Parton's illustrious career. One of the standout attractions is a themed area dedicated to her remarkable life.

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Here, visitors can step back in time and experience a replica of the humble two-room house where the future country music icon grew up with her 11 siblings. This allows fans to connect with Dolly's early life!

Handmade Toys and Clothes

Growing up in poverty, Dolly and her siblings often couldn't afford store-bought toys or clothes. Instead, their mother, Avie Lee, sewed their clothes and made their toys from whatever materials were available. Dolly famously had a handmade coat of many colors, which later inspired one of her most beloved songs - Coat Of Many Colors.


Later, that coat, which her classmates mocked, would proudly hang in Dollywood – the theme park the singer created in her hometown, providing hundreds of jobs. But more on that later.

Her Musical Talent Was Discovered by... the Church!

Dolly's grandfather was a pastor, so she and her siblings were involved in church performances. It soon became clear that Dolly had a musical gift, and she began singing outside of the church as well.

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Dolly started writing songs at a very young age. By the time she was 10, she had already appeared on local TV and radio shows. Her big break came when she moved to Nashville the day after her high school graduation.

Despite Her Humble Farmer Parents, Dolly Was Always Ambitious!

Dolly’s first public performance happened when she was just 10 years old, and she did it all on her own. It turns out that she first took the microphone in front of a huge audience in 1956 on the Cas Walker Show.


Later, the singer recalled that she approached Walker backstage at his show and told him that she "wanted to work for him." Of course, he couldn’t refuse the young girl a chance to perform.

Fateful Meeting

Dolly Parton’s musical career began with a simple yet significant gift – a guitar from her Uncle Bill Owens when she was just seven years old. This instrument became the first tool in her budding musical career, allowing her to explore and develop her songwriting abilities.  

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Dolly's breakthrough came when she was discovered by country music legend Willie Nelson. Impressed by her songwriting skills and captivating voice, Nelson recognized Dolly's potential and helped her get her foot in the door of the country music industry.

A Legendary Partnership with Porter Wagoner

Dolly Parton’s partnership with Porter Wagoner is one of the most iconic collaborations in country music history.


Their meeting and subsequent professional relationship significantly shaped Dolly’s early career and left a lasting impact on her career. Dolly Parton met Porter Wagoner in 1967 when she was just starting her career.

Any Performer Would Envy This Many Hits!

At that time, Wagoner was a well-established country star with his own television show, The Porter Wagoner Show. Recognizing Dolly’s incredible talent, Wagoner invited her to join his show as a regular performer. Their collaboration was incredibly successful and lasted for several years.


Together, they recorded numerous duets that became hits, such as The Last Thing on My Mind and Please Don't Stop Loving Me. Their chemistry was undeniable, and they quickly became a beloved duo in the country music scene.

I Will Always Love You is Not Whitney Houston's Song

In the early 1970s, Dolly decided it was time to go solo and left Porter Wagoner, but on a positive note. She expressed her gratitude to him in the song I Will Always Love You, which Whitney Houston later powerfully covered in the movie The Bodyguard.


Many people, especially the younger generation, still think this song belongs to Houston, but as you can see, that's not the case.

Dolly's Songs Have Hit the Number One Spot on the Billboard 200 Twenty-Six Times!

Dolly Parton has had an impressive number of hit songs, and her albums would fly off the shelves in just hours! Her song Joshua (1970) is considered one of the most popular songs performed by the singer. Interestingly, the track was released both as a single and as the title track of the album of the same name.

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Within a few months, the song climbed to the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart. Moreover, Parton was awarded a Grammy for this song!

The Song Touch Your Woman Revealed a New Side of Parton!

Released in 1972, the song Touch Your Woman soon became one of the top ten country songs of the year! However, the initial reception was quite controversial. But why? The track was markedly different from Dolly Parton's other hits at the time.

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Instead of focusing on her childhood on the farm, Dolly chose to explore serious reflections on the relationships between men and women. One could say that this song revealed a new, deeper side of Parton!

Want to Inspire Dolly to Write a Song? Flirt with Her Husband!

One of Dolly's most famous songs, Jolene, was inspired by a real-life bank teller who flirted with her husband. This information shocked so many people that it even made its way into Wikipedia! Released in 1973, the song is one of her most covered tracks.


Over her career, Dolly has received numerous awards, including 10 Grammy Awards and 50 nominations, making her one of the most honored female country performers of all time.

Not Only A Musician Star

Dolly has enjoyed success on the big screen, starring in hits like 9 to 5, Steel Magnolias, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Her charisma and charm have made her a beloved figure in Hollywood.

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She’s also made memorable TV appearances, including hosting her own variety show, Dolly, and guest-starring on numerous programs.

The Challenging 1980s for Parton

Despite her dizzying success, Dolly Parton had difficult periods. In her autobiography, the singer was very candid about her struggles. She admitted that in the 1980s, she battled severe depression after starring in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.


The pressures of fame and increased attention took a toll on the star. According to Dolly, during that difficult time, she seriously contemplated suicide, even going as far as preparing to take hold of a gun. However, a miracle saved her!

The Singer Was Saved... by Her Dog!

Dolly's beloved dog, named Popeye, seemed to sense that something was wrong at the moment she picked up the gun. The pet ran up the stairs to her, and, according to the singer, she had a revelation.


"I put the gun down. Then I prayed. I sort of believe Popeye was a spiritual messenger from God," she told People. And of course, during difficult times, Dolly Parton's husband was her main support. Let's talk about him now!

A Marriage Out of the Spotlight

Despite her public persona, Dolly has kept her personal life remarkably private. She married Carl Dean in 1966, and the couple has maintained a low profile throughout their marriage.

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Carl shuns the spotlight, and the two rarely appear in public together, preserving the mystery and strength of their relationship. However, this did not stop us and we found a lot of unexpected facts about their marriage! Let's start from the very beginning of their love affair!

A Spark Ignited Instantly!

As mentioned earlier, Dolly Parton moved to Nashville right after finishing high school, and this decision proved to be fateful! In her recent autobiographical book "Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton," she shared many interesting events from her life. For example, she met her future husband the day after moving!


It was like a scene from a movie – Carl Dean noticed the young singer doing laundry at Wishy Washy and was concerned that she might get a sunburn in her revealing clothes. It was love at first sight!

Trials at the Beginning of Their Relationship

When Dolly Parton and Carl Dean met, they were very young - she was only 18, and he was 21. Despite their youth, their relationship developed rapidly, and soon they became almost inseparable. Carl became a real support for Dolly, encouraging her in all her endeavors.

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During this time, Dolly's musical career was rapidly taking off. She signed a contract with her first label shortly after arriving in Music City, and her future seemed bright and promising. However, challenges soon arose…

Wedding at Risk!

Carl didn't hesitate and quickly proposed to Dolly. In an interview with CMT News, Dolly recalled how they told Carl's parents about their plans: "When Carl and I told his mother that we were going to get married, she was so excited to finally be able to have a wedding.


Because her only daughter had eloped. So she was so happy to be able to throw a big wedding party." However, the joy of their engagement was overshadowed by the demands of Dolly's label, which was against the celebration! But why?

Career or Love?

Dolly Parton faced a difficult choice – she had to prioritize what was more important to her – career or relationship. The thing was that the executives of her label didn't want the wedding to distract from the release of her debut album and asked her to wait a year.


Despite the pressure, she didn't abandon her plans and love! Putting the cooperation with a promising label at risk, she firmly decided – the wedding would take place!

Secret Wedding

Dolly and Carl made the final decision to get married and went to Georgia to avoid the attention of the local Tennessee media. Dolly took only her mother with her, and on Memorial Day in 1966, they tied the knot in a small local church. This day became a symbol of the strength of their love, despite all the obstacles!


And despite there being only one blurry photo remaining from Dolly and Carl's wedding, their wedding look still captures the hearts of millions – young people even create similar characters in The Sims!

Dolly's Husband Stayed Away from the Glamour

While Dolly Parton became more famous and successful, her husband stayed in Tennessee and was far from the glamorous life. He built a business in the asphalt paving industry and continued to manage their household. Did this cause conflicts between them?


According to Dolly, she told her husband from the start that she wasn't going to settle for the life of a housewife, and he was completely supportive of her. Are there really such perfect relationships?

Did the Singer Have Secret Affairs?

The media has repeatedly attributed romances to Dolly with her colleagues, unable to believe that such a vibrant woman could remain faithful to one man for so long. Moreover, she was always surrounded by incredibly handsome and successful men!


For example, according to The Mirror, there were rumors that Dolly had affairs with both Burt Reynolds and Sylvester Stallone! But Dolly herself never confirmed any of these romances, hinting that they were fabrications of journalists.

Despite a Strong Marriage, Dolly Says She Loves to Flirt with Other Men!

Nevertheless, none of us are without our flaws – and Dolly has her secrets too. In an interview with The Mirror, she admitted that she loves to flirt and has never met a man she didn't like. Wow, what a revelation!


Moreover, Dolly confessed that her husband knew about her desire to flirt and even have fun with others... Could there have been something more than just flirting?

Dolly and Carl Had an Open Relationship

The revelation of an open marriage between Dolly and Carl was a real shock to many! At one time, Dolly told the Daily Mail that men are her weakness.


‘Short, fat, bald or skinny – I've fallen for some very unusual men, but Carl knows that I always come home and don't get intimate with these people – I just flirt and have a good time,’ the singer said. In the photo, you can see how sweetly she interacted with Mick Jagger – apparently, she communicated with other men in the same way!

Dolly Was Rumored to Have an Affair with... a Woman!

Despite denying rumors of romances and stating that there was nothing more than flirting, at one point the media attributed a romance to Dolly... with a woman.


The Mirror wrote in detail about this incident. It turned out that the woman Dolly was rumored to be involved with was her personal assistant, Judy Ogle. Is that really true?

Dolly Shared a Bed with Judy!

Dolly and Judy spent so much time together that the press decided there was something more than just collaboration!


The gossip intensified when Dolly once innocently admitted that she shared a bed with Judy. However, Dolly never confirmed a relationship with Judy.

Despite Dolly's Denials, the Press Writes About a Secret Romance Lasting 6 Years!

It seemed that Dolly had long made it clear that she loved no one but her husband. However, the Daily Mail reported new information that Dolly might have had a six-year-long affair with a secret man who was close to her in the early 1990s.


The publication claims that Dean is allegedly still angry with his wife because of this affair. What drama! Let's talk about them now…

A Quarrel Over a House

Despite being together for a very long time, Dolly and Carl are quite a passionate couple! They have many emotions, so it can be assumed that they also have loud quarrels. For example, Brain Sharper wrote about an incident when Dolly bought homes in Hawaii and Los Angeles in the 1980s. Carl allegedly didn't want to visit them.

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According to the publication, the singer was, of course, upset and accused her husband of his refusal being a sign that he no longer loved her. However, as we see, the couple is still together – so the conflict was quickly smoothed over.

The Secret to a Long Relationship Is Taking Breaks from Each Other

Over the decades, Dolly has appeared in public with her husband only a few times. This shows that they respect each other's wishes, and the singer doesn't force her husband to accompany her everywhere if he doesn't want to.


Moreover, the star has repeatedly admitted that she and her husband are often in different parts of the world. She often travels alone, and they manage to rest from each other and not get tired of each other over so many years of marriage! Good advice!

The Singer and Her Husband Chose Names for Future Children, but It Wasn't Meant to Be

"My husband and I, when we first got married, talked about having children. We wondered what they would be like and who they would resemble.


We even picked a name for a girl… she would have been called Carla," Dolly Parton shares in her autobiography. However, Dolly never had children, but does she regret it?

The Singer is Glad She Has No Children!

According to Dolly Parton, if they had children, she and her husband would likely not have achieved the career heights they enjoy today.

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In an interview with The Guardian, Parton said she would have been a wonderful mother and would have given her child everything possible. However, she would have felt terribly guilty if she had to leave them for touring.

Dolly Parton Once Found a Baby Left on Her Porch!

However, some of the singer’s fans decided that she would be a wonderful mother. Every star has their share of wild fans, but Dolly Parton experienced an unbelievable incident back in the 1960s. In an interview with Act Two magazine, Dolly revealed the shocking truth about this bizarre event.


One day, Dolly arrived at her farm in Nashville and discovered a box with a baby on her porch. "I had just recorded the song Jolene, and in the note it said, 'Her name is Jolene. I named her after you, so please take care of her,'" Dolly recounted. The singer immediately called the child services hotline.

The Cloned Sheep Dolly Was Named After... the Singer!

But if you think that shocking facts about Dolly's life ended with the story of the abandoned baby, that's not true. Perhaps one of the most unexpected facts about Dolly Parton is her connection to science. The first cloned mammal, a sheep, was named "Dolly" in her honor.


The scientists who achieved this breakthrough explained that they named the sheep after Dolly because the cloning procedure involved a mammary gland cell, a playful nod to Dolly’s famous figure. And speaking of the figure and appearance of this remarkable singer, it would be a shame not to talk about it!

Dolly Sleeps... with Her Makeup On!

Dolly Parton’s appearance is iconic, with her big hair, bold makeup, and sparkling outfits. She once joked, "It costs a lot of money to look this cheap." Dolly admits to sleeping with her makeup on, just in case she needs to be camera-ready at a moment’s notice.

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Business Insider wrote about this on October 17, 2023. She also wears wigs to maintain her signature look without damaging her natural hair.

Dolly Parton's Size 8 Breasts Are Insured for $600,000!

Dolly Parton's breasts are frequently discussed online due to their remarkable size. According to the Daily Star, and as Dolly herself has recounted, she had to get used to people talking to her chest instead of looking at her face.

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She joked, "It's okay, you can look down—everyone looks at my chest when they talk to me!" According to ABC News, the singer has insured her breasts for $600,000! By the way, many people are curious about whether Dolly's breasts are real and if she has ever consulted plastic surgeons. More on that—coming up next!

"Implants Don't Age" - Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton's plastic surgeries have long been a topic of interest for the public. The star first admitted to undergoing a cosmetic procedure in 1994, though she did not specify which one, as reported by USmagazine.

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Over the years, she became more candid about her plastic surgeries, which she believes are necessary in show business. She has also admitted to having implants in her breasts, stating famously that “they don't age.”

Singer Loves Budget Beauty Products - and It's Her Beauty Secret!

Of course, plastic surgery isn't the only thing helping the 78-year-old singer look fabulous. In an interview with Insider, she confessed, "I don't really do any complex skincare routines.

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And I don't think you have to spend a fortune to have good skin. Most of the products that are cheaper are just as good. And sometimes better than the ones that cost a fortune."

Dolly Parton Copies Adele's Makeup!

It turns out that Adele is a beauty muse for Dolly Parton! The country singer confessed to BBC that she absolutely loves Adele's makeup and often requests a similar eye makeup look.


However, from an outsider's perspective, Dolly's makeup still appears more vibrant, doesn't it?

The Unexpected Reason Dolly Parton Almost Always Wears Long Sleeves!

Many have noticed that Dolly Parton rarely appears in public with her shoulders exposed.


Parton revealed to Vanity Fair the reason behind her tendency to cover up her arms – she has a tendency to develop keloid scars, which have a slightly purple hue and are something she cannot get rid of. As a result, the singer hides them beneath her clothing.

This Is Seen Only by Dolly's Husband!

By the way, Dolly hides her scars not only with clothing but also with... tattoos! They say every woman should have her secrets... and Dolly has her tattoos! She keeps them only for her husband, and in recent years, she has gotten a few tattoos in hidden places that only Carl will see.


It’s interesting to know what’s depicted there! Maybe one day the singer will reveal this. After all, she is very candid about other aspects of her appearance!

Exercise Enthusiast

It’s hard not to notice that at 78 years old, Dolly’s figure is simply amazing! Of course, this is impossible without sports. While Dolly might not be hitting the gym like a professional athlete, she is dedicated to staying active and healthy.


She has mentioned in interviews that she enjoys low-impact exercises, including walking and light aerobics, to maintain her energy and fitness. Also, Dolly Parton has expressed her enjoyment of golf!

Dolly Cares About Everyone's Health

Dolly has been known to support local sports events and initiatives. Her Dollywood Foundation often sponsors and contributes to community programs, some of which include sports and recreational activities for children and families.

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This support helps promote physical activity and a healthy lifestyle in her community.

A Business Mogul with a Heart of Gold

Of course, Parton is involved in charity not only in the sports sphere. Dolly isn't just a musician; she's also a savvy businesswoman. She founded the Dollywood Company, which includes the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.


In Dollywood, there are numerous attractions that create many jobs and support the local economy of the singer's hometown.

Dolly Parton Never Rode the Roller Coasters at Dollywood!

Dollywood boasts a total of nine American roller coasters, yet Dolly Parton herself revealed in an interview with The New York Times that she has never ridden any of them. Surprising, isn't it?

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According to the star, the reason is quite simple – she gets motion sickness. Moreover, she fears losing her wig or shoes while riding the attractions!

Millions of Dollars to Help People

In 2016, devastating wildfires swept through the Great Smoky Mountains, affecting Dolly’s hometown of Sevier County, Tennessee. In response, she quickly established the My People Fund, which provided $1,000 per month for six months to families who lost their homes.

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Her efforts raised millions of dollars and provided much-needed relief and support to those in her community during a time of crisis.

Aiding in the Fight Against the Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dolly made headlines with a significant donation to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to support research efforts.

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Her contribution played a role in the development of the Moderna vaccine, showcasing her commitment to addressing global health problems and supporting scientific advancements.

Dolly Parton Doesn't Fully Embrace Feminism!

Despite her modernity, the singer does not support all contemporary movements. Despite being widely hailed as a feminist icon by the feminist movement, much of which is attributed to her refusal to let societal expectations negatively impact her self-confidence or career, Dolly Parton herself does not identify as a feminist.


In an interview with Jad Abumrad, Dolly expressed her view, stating, "For me, when you say just the word 'feminist,' it's like: 'I hate all men.'

Dolly Parton's Name in University History Courses!

Dolly Parton's creativity and philanthropy have even inspired course creators at the university. Dolly Parton's life is so fascinating that it has been officially included in the curriculum at the University of Tennessee!

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It's a serious subject—a seminar designed for history majors studying with distinction. This is truly inspiring! We are sure that Dolly Parton's story has also impressed and inspired you! Such incredible people are a wonderful example to emulate!