Dolly Parton is not only one of the greatest living legends performing country music today, but she’s also one of America’s biggest exports. Dolly brings in millions of dollars in revenue a year on the back of her undying singles and massive world tours. But who is Dolly Parton?
Most people only know the wise-cracking blonde that shows up every couple of years on TV to sing “9 to 5,” or from the Dolly Parton Meme Challenge which started a social trend, but the Dolly Parton biography is full of heartbreak and a never-ending drive to succeed. Whether you’re one of Parton’s biggest fans, or you’re a newcomer to this country/pop crossover mega-star, these Dolly Parton facts will give you more to love.
After six decades in the music business, there’s almost no end to the Dolly Parton trivia, and the singer herself seems to relish dropping hints about her real life into every interview she gives. After you’ve spent any time reading about the singer, it’s obvious Parton knows where she fits into the modern cultural landscape as America’s campy country aunt, and she dishes out enough homespun and sassy wit to fill that role perfectly.
If you only know Parton’s singles, this is the perfect opportunity to learn about Dolly Parton family history, and dispel a few rumors that have plagued her since she first hit Nashville.
She Used To Wake Up Every Morning To Her Siblings Wetting The Bed
In a Playboy interview from 1978, Parton revealed that because she had to share a bed with her brothers and sisters when she was growing up, she woke up every day to someone wetting the bed:
The kids peed on me every night. There were so many of us. We slept three and four in the bed. I would wash every night, and as soon as I go to bed, the kids would wet on me and I'd have to get up in the morning and do the same thing. [But] that was the only warm thing we knew in the winter time. That was almost a pleasure - to get peed on - because it was so cold. Lord. It was as cold in the room as it was outside.
She Flirts With A Lot Of Men, But Always Stays True To Her Husband
The secret to Dolly's almost 50 year marriage to her husband, Carl Dean? Time apart. Though rumors have circulated for decades about affairs, pairing the singer with everyone from Burt Reynolds to Sylvester Stallone (and some women, too), Dolly insists that she's nothing more than a flirt:
I love to flirt, and I've never met a man I didn't like... 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 couple reportedly have a stable, loving marriage despite Dolly's roving eye, and the fact that she spends half the year away on tour while he stays home managing a farm and his paving business in Tennessee.
The pair met when Dolly was only 18, and she says, "I think Carl will always see me the way he did when we first met, just as I do him. We'll never be old to each other."
Her Family Was So Poor They Paid A Doctor With A Bag Of Oatmeal
Many of Dolly's songs (including her hit "Coat of Many Colors") revolve around her childhood poverty. Dolly allegedly grew up "dirt poor" in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee as one of 12 children in a one-room cabin with no electricity or running water.
Her community was so poor, Dolly's father reportedly paid the doctor who delivered her with a bag of oatmeal.
She Opened Dollywood To Give People Jobs
On the surface, it might seem like Dollywood was created as a lavish excuse to celebrate the Church of Dolly. But the theme park and museum in Pigeon Forge, TN, was actually set up to provide jobs to the low-income area of Tennessee were Parton was raised.
Thanks to Parton's keen business sense, Dollywood is the largest employer in Sevier County.