One of the greatest artists to ever grace the world of country music is the one and only, Dolly Parton. Since the 70’s, Dolly has produced a countless amount of hits and there are so many things to learn about this amazing musician.
Firstly, Dolly’s wigs are certainly one of her biggest trademarks. This is mainly in part because she could never style her real hair. She admitted that teasing it so much did serious damage early on.
Amazingly, for someone who is so famous and is often stuck in the limelight, Dolly has a husband who is something of an enigma, in comparison. Carl Dean tied the knot with Parton in 1966 and the couple are still together to this very day. She was only 20 years of age when she married Carl in Ringgold, Georgia. And despite her flirty ways onstage, Dolly has stayed committed to Carl for over fifty years and they are stronger than ever.
Miley Cyrus’s Godmother
Did you know that Miley Cyrus is, in fact, Dolly’s God-child? When you think about it, it kind of makes sense! Parton’s inability to have children didn’t stop her from caring about those who are close to her. “God didn’t allow me to have children, so everybody’s children could be mine,” she said. As a result, Dolly and Miley are very close and the latter considers the former as a huge inspiration. She even performed one of Dolly’s biggest numbers, “Jolene.”
The Porter Wagoner Show
The late 60s was when Dolly finally got her big break. When she joined the Porter Wagoner Show, fans were initially disappointed that she was filling the void left by Norma Jean. But as soon as they heard her voice, they quickly got over it. She became more and more popular with every performance and eventually featured weekly. She eventually became more famous than Wagoner and as a goodbye, she wrote the classic “I Will Always Love You.”
She Lost In A Dolly Lookalike Contest
You would think that if anyone could pass for looking like Dolly Parton, it would be the singer herself. But apparently, this wasn’t the case when she entered a Dolly Parton lookalike contest on Halloween in Santa Monica Boulevard. Amazingly, she didn’t win the competition. But that was the aim. Dolly approached the contest as a joke, over-exaggerating her appearance. “It’s a good thing I was a girl or I would be a drag queen,” she said.
Dolly Recreated Her Childhood Home
Dolly’s story is a true rags-to-riches one. The fourth of 12 children and she grew up extremely poor in a small house in Tennessee. She lived with virtually no electricity and no indoor plumbing in a one-room cabin. When she was born, her father was unable to pay the doctor who delivered her. So he gave him a bag of oatmeal instead. But later in life, when she was rich and famous, Dolly and her brother Bobby restored their childhood home.
Dolly Received Death Threats From The KKK
Despite being from the south, Dolly has always gone against the grain and has a been a huge supporter of the LGBT community all her life. At her amusement park, Dollywood, she created a Gay Day, so that LGBT families could visit the place and celebrate in unison. But when the KKK heard about this, they did not approve and decided to take action. Despite receiving death threats from the hate group, she did not let them intimidate her.
The Dolly Statue
Dolly has made the people of her hometown, Sevierville, Tennessee, very proud. As a token of the town’s appreciation, a walking tour with 28 stops has been designed to follow important places in Parton’s upbringing. Also, a bronze statue was erected to honor Dolly. It depicts her as a young girl holding a guitar. Jim Gray made the statue and has been told that everyone who visits it knows exactly who it’s supposed to be when they lay eyes on it.
She Turned Elvis Down
The fact that Dolly’s song “I Will Always Love You” was a big hit was actually a double-edged sword. It was great how big it had made the singer. However, one star was hellbent on making his own rendition of the song. This musician was none other than the King of Rock n’ Roll, Elvis Presley. When Colonel Tom Parker asked on behalf of Elvis for the rights to make his own version, Parton was not interested.
She’s Open About Her Plastic Surgery
There is no denying that Dolly Parton has received a lot of plastic surgery. As she put it so eloquently, she is quick to spot any features that are “saggin’, baggin’ or draggin'” and will not waste time to get it nipped, tucked or sucked. “This is just who I am!” she said. “I may look fake, but I’m real where it counts.” One thing’s for sure – Dolly knows how she wants to look.
Dolly’s Playboy Cover
Unsurprisingly, Playboy magazine have come knocking on Dolly’s door on numerous occasions. Then, in 1978, she ended up on the cover, but not in the way that you’d expect. In the most heartwarming of gimmicks, she dressed up in a bunny costume. This was mainly because she did not want to pose nude for the shoot. As a result, she became the first country singer to pose for the magazine. “It was just a fun thing to do,” she said.
A Poor Family
There is no denying that Dolly came from a fairly humble background. Despite having a farmer for a father and a choir singer for a mother, the family that she grew up in was faithful and full of love. “It was a hard life, a family with no money. But we had a lot of the important stuff that money don’t buy you anyway,” she said. “Daddy loved Mama and he loved his kids. Mama never loved anybody but my daddy.”
Bullied In School
After being bullied at school, Parton took it upon herself to make sure that other children didn’t suffer what she did. She started an anti-bullying campaign as she remembered how hard it was to avoid abuse from her contemporaries in light of her musical talents. Some kids even had the audacity to lock her in school lockers. Later on in her career, she wrote the song “Coat Of Many Colors” as an anthem to tackle bullying and empower the bullied.
Many of Dolly’s siblings sang together at church. So it should be no surprise that Dolly isn’t the only one in her family who is musically gifted. In Dollywood, her brother Randy was given chance to perform in a show called My People. Her sister Cassie shortly followed and even their nieces became regulars. Although none of her siblings obviously didn’t become as famous, sisters Stella, Freida and Rachel all had singing careers, with the former starring in The Dukes of Hazzard.
The Truth Behind Jolene
Did you ever stop to read the lyrics of Dolly’s biggest hit, “Jolene,” and ask yourself what do they actually mean? She wrote the song aimed at a redheaded banker who was besotted with her husband. The awkward moment happened early on in their marriage. Carl jokingly visited the bank to visit Jolene who would always flirt with him. But the lyrics were actually aimed at a fan that was invited onstage at one of the Dolly’s concerts.
The Butterfly Obsession
One of Parton’s biggest obsessions is with colorful butterflies. The beautiful insects even made into the titled of one of Dolly’s albums, 1974’s Love Is Like A Butterfly. The album title song details how she compares her love with husband Carl to that of butterflies. “Love is like a butterfly, as soft and gentle as a sigh,” she wrote. “The multicolored moods of love are like its satin wings. Love makes your heart feel strange inside. It flutters like soft wings in flight.”
Songwriter At Heart
Even though most identify Dolly for her singing abilities as well as her iconic appearance, she looks at herself differently. For her, singing comes second and her skills as a songwriter come first. This makes perfect sense seeing that she has written an amazing amount of songs – at least 5,000, recording at least 400 of those. She has been writing music since she was just five years of age and virtually all of her albums have been written by her.
A Big Dream
From such an early age, Dolly knew that she was going to be a star, whatever it took. By the age of 10, she was already starring in TV shows and radio productions. It was only three years later when she performed at the Grand Ole Opry. Then, after graduating from high school, the young lady moved to Nashville to try and make it to the big time. This was just the start for an artist who has since accumulated 15 Hall of Fame honors.
She Has Her Own Record Label
From a very young age, Dolly has always had a business-oriented mind. She founded Velvet Apple Music (BMI). This gave her the power to own copyrights and manage how her music was distributed. Then in 2007, she started her own record label, Dolly Records. It was on this label where she was able to launch marketing deals that were bigger than the ones on the other labels she was signed to. For a while, she was the only artist signed to Dolly Records.
She Used To Hide In Public
For a celebrity, life can be tough. This is because privacy becomes something of a rarity. It got to a point in Dolly’s life that she felt like she had no choice but to disguise herself. She would try using different wigs and makeup. However, these accessories proved to be futile and people still recognized her. For many reasons, she has been nearly impossible to forget. These include her voice, accent and even her body.
Even though she claims to have had a stable marriage all these years, this hasn’t stopped intense speculation that Dolly has had affairs throughout her life. “I love to flirt, and I’ve never met a man I didn’t like,” she said. “Men are my weakness. Short, fat, bald or skinny – I’ve had crushes on some very unusual men but Carl knows I’ll always come home and I’m not having sex with these people – I’m just flirtin’ and having fun.”
The Infamous ‘Friendship’
One of the biggest rumors of Parton’s life has surrounded the close friendship she’s had with her best friend Judy Ogle. Some have speculated that they too may have had a romance at some point. When asked about the rumors regarding her friend, Dolly said, “Judy and I have been best friends since we were like in the third and fourth grade. I mean, I love her as much as I love anybody in the whole world, but we’re not romantically involved.”
The rumors between Dolly and Judy didn’t stop there, and some even went one step further. At one point, there was a rumor that none other than Sylvester Stallone enjoyed a night of fun with the two best friends. Even though there has been no confirmation in regards to this story, there are hints that something may have happened. The strongest bit of evidence points to the time when Dolly and Sly worked together on the set of the movie, Rhinestone.
Her Biggest Regret?
At one point, Dolly was very upfront about not having kids. In an interview with ABC News, she said, “I used to think I should regret it. Early on, when my husband and I were dating, and then when we got married, we just assumed we would have kids. We weren’t doing anything to stop it. In fact, we thought maybe we would. We even had names if we did, but it didn’t turn out that way.”
Why Didn’t She Have Kids?
But Dolly admits that the main reason she chose to not have children was out of selfishness. “I was starting my menopause and feeling guilty about my success. Maybe I was thinking that I’d been selfish not to have had children,” she said. “God didn’t mean for me to have kids so everybody’s kids could be mine. My younger brothers and sisters lived with me and Carl for many years – and we’re very close to our nieces and nephews.”
Loves To Be Cheap
Despite her unique appearance, Dolly is aware that she isn’t the classiest looking lady on the face of Earth. She, therefore, chooses not to take herself too seriously. As a joke, she said that she took her style from the “town trollop.” But ultimately, she does not care what critics say, as long her fans love her. She put it so eloquently when she explained that “it costs a lot of money to look this cheap.”
Influenced By Barbie
The look of the iconic Barbie doll has a massive part to play in Dolly Parton’s appearance. But also, her humble beginnings made her want to aspire to look as glamorous as the toy doll. She even wrote about Barbie in the song “Backwoods Barbie.” She wrote, “I wanted to be pretty more than anything in the world, like Barbie. From rags to wishes in my dreams, I could have it all. I’m just a backwoods Barbie, too much makeup, too much hair.”
The Corn Song
Even before she learned how to write, Dolly was “writing” her own songs. She conjured up the idea for her very first song “Little Tiny Tasseltop” before she could even read or write. With the help of her mother, Avie Lee, she had someone who could articulate all of her ideas and write them down. “Little tiny tasseltop, I love you an awful lot,” she ‘wrote.’ “Corn silk hair and big brown eyes, How you make me smile.”
Living with 11 other siblings in the same small house was a double-edged sword. On the plus side, it meant that Dolly was really close with a. But with time, her fame and fortune caused tension between her and sister Stella. According to her, she was neglected as a result of Dolly’s rise to stardom. “Dolly found every reason in the world to keep me as far away as possible and over the years I finally gave up and let her have it,” she said.
There seems to be nothing that Dolly can not do. She even tried her hand in Broadway, writing the music and lyrics for 9 to 5: The Musical. The show was adapted from the movie of the same name which was made in 1980. Dolly got much praise for the music she wrote and Variety wrote that the “score mostly achieves its intended goals of variety, build and likability, at its best nailing character with images as resonant as the title tune’s ‘Pour myself a cup of ambition.'”
The Tony Award
Ultimately, the show didn’t last that long on Broadway and was fairly unsuccessful both commercially and critically. However, Dolly did receive a Tony Award nomination for Best Original Score. Despite not winning the Tony, she was very happy to be nominated at all. “I’ve been proud of anything that I’ve ever received, and being part of the Broadway scene is new and different for me, and it’s been a great adventure and a great experience. This is a great compliment,” she said.
Also An Actress
Dolly has also made a name for herself in Hollywood. In her career, she has been nominated for many Academy Awards, Golden Globes as well as nearly 50 Grammy Awards. She has also had numerous Hall of Fame honors. Her first movie was the iconic 9 to 5. This was followed by the 1982’s The Best Little Wh*rehouse in Texas, which was well received by critics and fans alike. As a result, she was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy at the Golden Globes.
Not only did Dolly write songs from an early age. She also performed when she was even younger. When she was just six years of age, she would perform at churches. Needless to say, the congregation always loved her performances. In one of her autobiographies, she shared what it was like to perform in a church. “They didn’t applaud much, but with the aid of a little corn, they could be counted on to hang around for a while,” she said.
Not only is she a talented singer and songwriter. Dolly also was a skilled guitar player from a very young age. She managed to craft a guitar out of an old mandolin and before she knew it, she was playing all sorts of acoustic songs. She was undoubtedly a special girl. It’s not like there are many six or seven-year-old girls who can make their own instruments. But then, her uncle bought her a quality Martin guitar to play on.
For a while now, Dolly’s tour bus has been as iconic as her own appearance. Her ‘gypsy tour bus,’ as she calls it is a perfect representation of her glamorous style. If her beloved nieces and nephews are traveling with her on tour, they will feel right at home in the front part. The back part, however, is strictly Dolly-centric, with a hot tub included. There is also a full wardrobe as well as a lounge area to watch TV in.
Just Like Home
And Dolly is determined to make her tour bus feel like a second home. She brings everything she needs to make it as homely as possible. She has all her favorite pillows and blankets and she even has a kitchen so she can cook whatever she wants. “I have homes all over the United States, but my favorite place is the bus because I can just feel those wheels rolling and I’m a true gypsy at heart,” she said.
One incredible story suggests that Dolly has a bunker underground that has every single dress she has worn in her fifty-plus year career. Also, due to the fact that she never wears a dress more than once, you can imagine how many dresses this rumored bunker has. “I never do an interview in or even wear the same outfit twice,” she said. “So after I’ve worn this blouse, it will be wrapped up and locked in my closet, never to be seen again.”
How She Met Carl
The day that she moved to Nashville was the day that she met the love of her life, Carl. “Hey, you’re going to get sunburned out here!” he told her. It was love at first sight and fifty years later, the couple are still going strong. Despite living under the radar throughout most of her career, she says that “he’s very deep and very witty. He’s good for me because he’s so different in nature from me.”
Country Music Legend
The numbers prove just how significant Dolly’s contribution to country music has been. She has 25 certified Gold, Platinum and Multi-Platinum records and has released over 40 top ten albums in her career. Not only that, but she has had 25 number one country hits, making her the most successful female country singer of all time. Also, her achievements go beyond record sales. The U.S. Library of Congress gave her a Living Legend Medal for her contribution to America’s cultural heritage.
The 100 Million Club
The record sales came to an incredible milestone when Dolly became part of the 100 million club. In 2014, she sold over 100 million records worldwide. She was thrilled with the achievement, saying, “I’ve been so busy making records for the past several decades, I didn’t realize I had racked up so many sales. What a great honor to know that I have so many fans that have supported me through the years. Thanks to the RIAA for the acknowledgment and the plaque I feel very honored and proud.”
Dolly and the Chipmunks
One of Dolly’s more trivial appearances came when she featured on an episode of Alvin And The Chipmunks. The episode titled “Urban Chipmunks,” showed the Chipmunks entering a singing competition and with the chance for the winners to sing alongside the country singer. Amazingly, Alvin won the contest thinking he had a chance to sing with Dolly. But then he found out that the winner has to be from Nashville, Tennessee. Sadly, Alvin is not from there.
9 to 5
One of the songs that Dolly will be best remembered for is the classic song 9 to 5. An interesting fact about the song is that Dolly used her nails to make the typewriter sounds in the song. It is one of the only songs to hit the charts with the sound of a typewriter in it. When she was recording the song originally, she joked about clicking her nails together and said, “you’ve got to use falsies for this…and fingernails, too.”
Dolly’s meticulous when it comes to looking after herself. This applies to both how she looks and also how she smells. The singer has two perfumes that are her go-to option, her favorite being Gendarme. Her second favorite perfume is Mary Kay Intrigue. And even though the latter has been discontinued, she is a huge fan of perfumes that have a little spice or a kick to them. And many fans like to send her bottles of Gendarme.
Dolly’s Imagination Library
After growing up with a father who couldn’t read, Dolly saw the importance in helping her home state of Tennessee to become a more literate place. She loves to read so she wanted to do something to help the people of her home. In 1995, she founded the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. This institution ensures that as many children as possible from birth to five years of age have free books to read. Since opening, the library has spread to other countries.
In recent times, a rumor has developed that because she covers her arms all the time, Dolly is actually covered in tattoos. This theory sent the internet into a frenzy. Not only that, but she also covers her legs with long pants and skirts virtually all the time. Fans’ lack of chances to see much of Parton’s skin has fuelled speculation that she actually has a ton of body art. One theory is that the tattoos cover up her breast surgery scars.
One artist that cites Dolly as the reason for his own success is fellow country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. Miley’s father was originally the opener to a bunch of Parton’s concerts early on. Naturally, many immediately speculated that the duo were more than just work colleagues. Ironically, the pair had never even met at that point. But when they did, Cyrus was quick to apologize regarding the false rumors. Dolly simply replied by saying, “Honey, that sh*t sells records!”
When Parton starred in the 1989 movies Steel Magnolias, critics couldn’t believe how good her performance was, especially as she wasn’t a professional actress. A behind the scenes story surfaced that director Herbert Ross criticized her for a poor take, accusing her of not being able to act. But Dolly swiftly replied by saying, “it’s your job to make me look like I can!” Ross, who had previously made Julia Roberts cry on set, was taken aback by the singer’s fierceness.
Coat Of Many Colors
In 2015, a movie aired on TV by the name of Coat of Many Colors. It received positive reviews and documented the early years of Dolly in Tennessee. It also covered her struggles growing up with so many siblings in such a small space and how she developed into such a raw talent. The title alludes to the coat that was made from the baby blanket of Dolly’s premature baby brother. He did not survive his birth.
Everything about Dolly proves that she rarely takes herself that seriously. Despite taking a lot of criticism for her extravagant appearance, she says “I would do it even if I wasn’t in show business.” She continued by saying “I would be a waitress spending all my wages on make-up and bleach and high-heeled shoes…I’m not a natural beauty. It’s not that I’m beautiful with all that sh*t either — it’s just that’s what I enjoy and what makes me comfortable.”
Dollywood Amusement Park
It should be no surprise that the most popular tourist attraction in the whole of Tennessee is the singer’s amusement park – Dollywood. And no, rides are not the highest item on the agenda, Dolly hates them! “I always thought that if I made it big or got successful at what I had started out to do, that I wanted to come back to my part of the country and do something great,” she said. “Something that would bring a lot of jobs into this area.”
The Dolly Foundation
In recent times, Tennessee has been a victim to wild forest fires. So Dolly took it upon herself to open the “My People Fund” in order to help those who suffered from the terrible damage. Her statement in regards to the initiative read as follows: “As you may know by now, there have been terrible wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains, the same mountains where I grew up and where my people call home. I have always believed that charity begins at home.”
Look Alike Sister
Amazingly, Dolly’s little sister, Stella, looks a lot like her. And just like other members of the family, Stella is a talented singer who is still performing to this day. She took much inspiration from the achievements of Dolly for her most recent album Mountain Songbird. She explained, “I did do this for her, it’s 11 of her songs and then one that I wrote with her, and that’s the new song out right now, called ‘More Power to ‘Ya’.”