Dolly Parton is a legend in the country music industry. She is well-known for her big voice, big hair, and her larger than life…personality. Even though she has been around for decades, there a few things about her that many of fans don’t realize.
Ever since she made her splash into the music scene 50-some-odd years ago, Dolly Parton has gone from wide-eyed starlet to a worldwide sensation in both the music world and the business world.
Dolly Parton was born on January 19, 1946, making her 71 years old. She has been in the business for 50 of those years. While she has 43 studio albums, Dolly also has her hands in many other types of pies, such as philanthropy, theme parks, films, and TV, just to name a few.
Fan think they know everything there is to know about Dolly Parton, but do they really? Let’s put that to the test.
To read these rarely known facts about Dolly Parton, click ‘Start Slideshow’ to begin!
Dolly Grew Up Poor
Dolly Parton was born in 1946 and was the fourth child of her parents, Robert Parton, who was a tobacco farmer, and Avie Lee Parton. She has a total of 11 siblings. When you counted her parents, that means there were 14 people in their house. You would think they would need a large home for that many people, but they only had a one-room cabin in Sevier County, Tennessee.
Dolly has said that her family was dirt poor, and to pay the doctor for delivering his daughter, Robert paid him with a bag of grain. Their home didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing. When nature called, they had to use an outhouse that was on the property.
When Dolly became famous, she decided to redo her family home. Keep reading to hear all about it!
Rebuilding Her Childhood Home
After she had become famous, Dolly decided to buy up her old family property and redo it. She wanted to make it look like it did when she was growing up. Dolly hired her brother, Bobby, to make it happen. The only change that they did make was to have electricity and indoor plumbing.
When redoing the home, she managed to spend a couple of million dollars in order to make it look like she only spent about $50 on the project. Even though it does have indoor plumbing, she made the bathroom look like an outdoor toilet. She really wanted it to look as exact as it was possible to be. You can see a replica of Dolly’s childhood home in the Dollywood Theme Park.
Dolly began writing songs when she was young. Click ‘Next’ to read just how young she was when she started!
Dolly Parton began her song-writing career when she was only 7-years-old, and ever since then, she has written a total of 5,000 songs. This is also the age when she began playing a homemade guitar. She was given a real guitar when she was 8-years-old by an uncle. She began singing in the church choir when she was only 6-years-old.
By the time Dolly was 10-years-old, she had begun singing on the local radio as well as local television programs. When she was only 13-years-old, she recorded her first song called “Puppy Love,” on Goldband Records, a small Louisiana label. She also appeared at the Grand Ole Opry for the first that year as well. It was at this first appearance that she first met Johnny Cash, who encouraged her to follow her dreams.
Dolly moved to Nashville after high school in order to make it big. Keep reading to find out how it went!
Signed At 19 Years Old
Once Dolly graduated high school, she moved out to Nashville, Tennessee. She first became well-known in the industry as a songwriter. She signed up with Combine Publishing almost as soon as she was settled in the city. Her songs were recorded by many artists, and two of her early songs ended up being top-ten hits.
Dolly was eventually signed as a singer with Monument Records when she was 19-years-old. They initially wanted to market her as a “bubblegum pop” singer, but she wanted to try being a country singer.
At first, the label thought her voice was more suited for pop music, and had her record several singles, none of them reached the Billboard Hot 100 list.
It wasn’t until her song, “Pull It Off Until Tomorrow,” was recorded by Bill Phillips, with her on harmony, that they decided she could make a go as a country singer. Her first single as a country artist was “Dumb Blonde,” and it charted at number 24, while her second, “Something Fishy,” reached number 17. The rest is history.
Dolly has been married to her husband for over 50 years. Click ‘Next’ to read about her love for him.
Despite almost every celebrity has had at least one divorce, Dolly Parton has managed to defeat the odds and stayed married to her first, and only, husband for 51 years. She married Carl Dean in 1966, and they are still married today. He runs an asphalt-paving business. Carl has managed to keep himself out of the limelight.
Carl hasn’t gone with his wife to any events, and is a really private person. Dolly has said that even though it doesn’t look like they get to spend a lot of time together, he is still her best friend and always will be. She has stated that their marriage has made the both of them really proud. According to friends, they really complement each other well.
How does Dolly describe their first meeting? Keep reading to find out!
How She Fell In Love
The two met on one of Dolly’s first days in Nashville at the Wishy Washy Laundromat. She said that at that time she wasn’t thinking of marriage or even dating, but suddenly there was this man who took her by surprise. She has said that he not only talked to her, but also looked her in the eyes, which was a rare thing for her in relationships.
Carl helped her raise several of her younger siblings, and a lot of her nieces and nephews have called her “Aunt Granny” because of it. She has used the moniker as the name of one of the restaurants in Dollywood. The two do not have any children because Dolly can’t have any thanks to complications from a reaction to a birth control she used when she was younger.
Dolly has her own amusement park because she wanted a way to give back. Click ‘Next’ to read about it!
Dolly Parton wanted a way to give back to her hometown. She decided on an amusement park, and she named it Dollywood. It has been up and running for over 30 years. Ever since it started, the park has given jobs to thousands of local residents, and has also helped boost the local economy.
The park opened in 1986, and ever since, it has doubled in size. In 2017, the price of admission is $67 for adults and $54 for children. Dolly said in 2010 that she would be open to expanding and opening up other parks as well. Adjacent to the main park, there is also Dollywood’s Splash Country, which is a large water park. She also recently opened the DreamMore Resort for guests to stay.
Why is it a surprise that Dolly would open an amusement park? Keep reading to find out!
What A Ride
Dolly has admitted that she gets horribly motion sick. She isn’t able to get on any of the rides that are in Dollywood. She has even said that she would get sick riding in the school bus.
She has said that her father was the same way. He would joke with her that he would never be able to be a pilot, miner, or sailor because of the motion sickness that he would get.
Not may know that Dolly Parton has secret tattoos. Click ‘Next’ to read about them!
It has been a rumor for a long time that Dolly Parton has secret tattoos that are covered up by her clothing. She admitted to having a few small ones back in 2014. But what they are of and where they are located is still unknown to her fan base.
Dolly has admitted that she got them to cover up some scars that she has. The scars showed up rather well because she is so fair-skinned. Many believe that these tattoos are the reason that Dolly doesn’t wear anything that doesn’t have long sleeves. If her sleeves are sheer enough, you can see the signs that she is heavily inked in various places.
What was the reason she says that she got the tattoos? Keep reading to find out!
Tattooed For Life
Dolly has said that part of the reason that she got the tattoos was for her husband’s benefit. Maybe she was too embarrassed about the scars she had from her plastic surgery. She could have meant that the tattoos were of things that her husband particularly liked.
One of the rumors was that Dolly had tattoos of snakes up and down her body. She has denied that her tattoos were of snakes. She has only publically said that she has a few small tattoos, but won’t say what they are images of.
Dolly entered a look-a-like contest for fun and actually lost! Click ‘Next’ to read about it!
Entered a Look-a-like Contest
At one point, Dolly Parton decided to enter a Dolly Parton look-a-like contest just for the fun of it. She told ABC that it happened on Halloween years ago. She said that she amongst all these guys who were dressed up like her.
For the contest, Dolly exaggerated the “Dolly Parton” look, using an overly large blonde wig, and made everything bigger, including her beauty mark and eyes. She doesn’t think the other drag queens in the contest knew that she was the real Dolly Parton. She figures they thought she was just a short gay guy entering the contest.
What happened during the contest? Keep reading to find out!
Not Very Convincing
Dolly says that while, she didn’t take too much trouble for her costume, she saw that all these beautiful drag queens obviously taken weeks and even months to get their costumes just right for the contest. She said that she obviously didn’t stand a chance.
Dolly admits that she doesn’t remember how she did, but doesn’t think she made it very far as she got the least applause from the audience. Apparently, she didn’t make a very convincing Dolly Parton drag queen.
Dolly created a literacy program as way to give back. Click ‘Next’ to find out about it!
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library was something that she started as a way to give back. It was first started in just her home state of Tennessee, but soon encompassed the entire country, and then soon spread to Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
The program started in 1995 in hopes to spread literacy in Tennessee. When the word spread around the internet about the program, a swarm of parents went to sign up their children, and the site crashed.
What does the literacy program do? Keep reading to find out!
She’s Also A Bookworm
The program sends out books to children each month from the time they are born until they reach kindergarten. Dolly wanted to help foster a love for reading at an early age. The program handpicks an age appropriate book each month to send to the child’s home. She especially wanted to do this for children who may not get to go to a library very often.
Dolly figured that having the books delivered to their home would become a special event that happened each month, since the children don’t know what book is being sent until it arrives. Since the program started there have been 80,000,000 books sent to children all over the United States.
Dolly turned down Elvis when he wanted to record one of her song. Click ‘Next’ to find out which one!
Dolly Turned Down Elvis
Dolly Parton wrote the acclaimed song “I Will Always Love You,” and she also sang it. She was contacted by Elvis Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, who wanted to make a deal with her for Elvis to cover the song.
Unfortunately, they also demanded that they get half of the publishing rights. Apparently, Elvis never recorded a song he didn’t have at least some publishing rights to. She decided to turn them down.
What made Dolly turn down the offer for Elvis to do the song? Keep reading to find out!
Was She Crazy or What?
When Dolly turned down Elvis, everyone told her that she was crazy for doing so. They were like, “but it’s Elvis!” Dolly said that she couldn’t say what it was, but something told her not to do the deal. She learned long ago to trust her instincts on stuff like this.
It turned out to be the right thing to do, however, because in 1992, Whitney Houston recorded the song for The Bodyguard soundtrack. It turned out to be a huge hit, and it made Dolly Parton a lot of money in the process.
Dolly says that she has enjoyed even her worst movies. Click ‘Next’ to read about which one she’s talking about!
Dolly Parton has made several movies over the years, some of them have been good, such as Steel Magnolias and 9 to 5. However, there have been some movies that she has done that have flopped horribly, such as Rhinestone, which came out in 1984. The movie was about a country singer and a cabbie in New York.
The movie was counted as a failure by the critics. Even the other star, Sylvester Stallone, has stated publically that he regretted making that movie. However, Dolly has stated in her autobiography that she doesn’t regret the movie. She says that she especially loved the soundtrack to the movie, especially “What a Heartache.”
What other movies has Dolly starred in? Keep reading to find out!
Dolly In Hollywood
In many of the movies that she is credited in, she starred as herself. One such movie was The Beverly Hillbillies in 1993. She was also in the movie Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous as herself. She played Aunt Dolly in several episodes of Hannah Montana.
Most recently, she was in Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love TV movie as the painted lady. She also voiced a character in the TV series Lily’s Driftwood Bay.
She is the godmother to a famous young female singer. Click ‘Next’ to find out who!
Godmother to Miley Cyrus
Dolly Parton is the godmother to Miley Cyrus. She is good friends with Miley’s father, Billy Ray Cyrus. When Miley was born, he asked her if she would be the baby’s godmother. She, of course, said yes.
They never made it official in the church, but she is close to her goddaughter anyway. Dolly has stood by Miley throughout her career. As mentioned, Dolly appeared as her Aunt Dolly in Miley’s TV show, Hannah Montana. They have also performed together a few times.
What does Dolly think of the way Miley has steered her career? Keep reading to find out!
Dolly Parton has said that she loves Miley and will continue to support her in any way that she can. She says that she can’t fault Miley for wanting to do her own thing now that she is away from her Disney Channel roots.
Dolly says that she doesn’t think everyone quite realizes what a great singer and songwriter Miley is quite yet. She also says that she knows that Miley has really thought all of her choices through, and that she is making the best choice possible.
Dolly has a statue dedicated to her in her hometown. Click ‘Next’ to read about it!
Dolly’s Famous Statue
Dolly has proudly giving back to her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee. She has singlehandedly stimulated the economy of the area, as well as keep many people employed through her amusement park.
In an attempt to show their appreciation, the residents of Sevierville had a statute built in her honor. The statue shows Dolly, sitting on a rock, barefoot, and holding her guitar. It is actually a life-sized statue, and it sits outside of the county courthouse.
Who was the one who made the statue? Keep reading to find out!
A Show Stopper
The statue was made by a local artist named Jim Gray, and it was dedicated to Dolly on May 3, 1987. It was cast in bronze and was beautifully crafted by Gray. Dolly is quite proud and honored by the statue.
This statue remains one of the favorite stops on the Sevierville’s walking tour that fans can take when visiting the town.
What are some other interesting facts about Dolly Parton that fans may not know? Click ‘Next’ to find out!
Other Fun facts
In 1995, the world’s first cloned sheep was born. It was given the name Dolly because of its large mammary glands. They said that when thinking of a name, Dolly’s name was first to come to mind, because when thinking of big glands, no one has bigger ones than Dolly Parton.
Another interesting fact is that Dolly had a death threat sent by the Ku Klux Klan. This happened because in the mid-2000s, her park, Dollywood, joined the ranks of those who participated in “Gay Days,” where those in the LBGT community can come and be themselves without fear. Dolly said that the threats didn’t faze her. She loves everyone and shouldn’t have to explain herself.
How much does a typical Dolly Parton dress wear? Keep reading to find out!
A Heavy Price To Pay
One of Dolly Parton’s dresses can weigh as much as 50 pounds each. When wearing one of her costumes, she can often be seen leaving trails of sequins, rhinestones, and beads that fall from the costumes. The people in her crew often call these “Dolly droppings.”
During her shows, she often wears hand-made Christian Louboutin heels that are a size five-and-a-half. She will often open each show wearing white, though she prefers the big and sparkly outfits that she wears.