When you think of country music, what songstress comes to mind? If you’re like us, it’s none other than the genre’s reigning queen, Dolly Parton. She’s been a music industry staple for decades and continues to make an impact both within and outside of Hollywood. Here are some facts you might not have known about the blonde beauty.
Her father paid the doctor who delivered her with oatmeal
Dolly Parton was born on January 19, 1946, in Sevier County, Tennessee. She was the fourth of 12 children born to Robert and Avie Parton, and she spent her childhood growing up in the family’s one-bedroom cabin.
Parton, 1970. (Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)
Parton’s family couldn’t afford to pay the medical bills for her birth, as her father was a poor construction worker and farmer, so they had to get creative with payment. Instead of money, her parents paid the doctor who delivered her with a sack of oatmeal.
You know it’s true love when you’ve been married for over 50 years. The marriage between Dolly Parton and Carl Thomas Dean is one little girls dream of. Did you know they met outside a Wishy Washy Laundromat on Parton’s first day living in Nashville?
Parton in Rhinestone, 1984. (Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox / Getty Images)
The pair married on May 30, 1966, after two years of dating, in an intimate ceremony with just the preacher and his wife in attendance. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2016 by renewing their vows in an equally intimate – if not more glamorous – ceremony.
She spent millions fixing up her childhood home
Dolly Parton and her siblings grew up in a one-bedroom cabin in Locust Ridge in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Despite lacking electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing, Parton has fond memories of her former home. That’s why she enlisted the help of her brother in restoring it.
Dolly Parton as a child, 1955. (Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)
The renovation cost a couple of million dollars to complete, and the pair ensured it looked identical to how it did when they were children. They made the bathroom look like an outdoor toilet, and even ensured the screen door squeaked like the old one.
How many wigs?!
It takes a lot of work to look as good as Dolly Parton – as well as a lot of money. No, we’re not talking about the plastic surgery she’s undergone over the years, but her wig collection, which is rumored to contain 365 hairpieces! She prefers wearing wigs, as they ensure she never has a bad hair day, and once joked she has “one for each day” of the year.
Parton, 1983. (Photo Credit: Manchester Daily Express / Getty Images)
It’s said Parton’s iconic style was inspired by a “tramp” from her hometown, who had bleached hair, wore high-heel shoes, and covered her lips, cheeks and nails with makeup. The singer has never been shy about hiding the fact she wears wigs. Her track “Dumb Blonde” begins with, “I’m not offended by all of the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb and I also know I’m not blonde.”
Crushing on Johnny Cash
Dolly Parton might be in a loving marriage, but before her husband came into the picture, she was crushing on someone else: country rock legend Johnny Cash. She saw him perform at the Grand Ole Opry when she was a teenager and it was the first time she considered the idea of sex appeal.
Johnny Cash, 1961. (Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)
“I was sitting in the audience and that’s when I first thought about sex appeal, someone striking and made me feel something inside,” she told Nightline. “He had this tick when he moved his shoulder… And it was still sexy. It still got to me.” As luck would have it, the pair eventually met and became close friends later in their careers!
She lost a Dolly Parton look-alike contest
It appears not even the real Dolly Parton can win a Dolly Parton look-alike contest. Speaking in an interview with Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts, the country singer revealed she once entered a contest, only to lose out to a drag queen.
Parton, 1978. (Photo Credit: Harry Langdon / Getty Images)
“At a Halloween contest years ago on Santa Monica Boulevard, where all the guys were dressed up like me,” she said. “I just over-exaggerated my look and went in and just walked on stage. I didn’t win. I didn’t even come in close, I don’t think.”
She denied Elvis
In 1967, Dolly Parton was hired to join Porter Wagner’s singing troupe, but quit a year later after writing her hit single, “I Will Always Love You.” While the single would see continued success after being covered by Whitney Houston for 1992’s The Bodyguard, there was another performer who wished to sing it: Elvis Presley.
Elvis Presley, 1960. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)
According to Parton, Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, reached out to ask if the “Hound Dog” singer could cover it, but with a catch: Parton would have to surrender half of the publishing rights. It ended up being the right choice, as it has since logged over 10 million performances, making it one of BMI’s top 30 most-performed songs of all time.
EGOT recipient… Almost
There are very few performers who hold the coveted title of EGOT recipient. The title is a way of showing they’re the recipient of four of Hollywood’s most prestigious awards: an Emmy, a GRAMMY, an Oscar, and a Tony. Dolly Parton isn’t one of them, but she is one of the few who can say they’ve been nominated for all four.
Dolly Parton at the 51st Academy of Country Music Awards, 2016. (Photo Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images)
We’re pretty sure Parton isn’t too upset about not winning those awards. She’s just one of seven female artists to be the recipient of Entertainer of the Year by the County Music Association. As well, 25 of her singles and albums have gone on to become Gold, Platinum, or Multi-Platinum recordings.
Playboy cover star
One of the most iconic magazine covers in Playboy history is the 1978 issue featuring Dolly Parton. The country icon was 32 years old, and was pictured wearing a black bustier with matching gloves, bunny ears, and a pink bowtie. The shoot, and accompanying interview with Lawrence Grobel, marked one of her earliest high-profile appearances in the mainstream press.
Parton posing for Playboy magazine, 1978. (Photo Credit: Harry Langdon / Getty Images)
Parton recreated her iconic cover in July 2021 in honor of her husband’s birthday. If the social media comments are anything to go by, fans think she looks just as good now as she did in 1978.
She sleeps in her makeup
While dermatologists recommend you clean your face before going to bed, Dolly Parton does the opposite. She sleeps in her makeup and only washes it off in the morning, before immediately reapplying it. Her reasoning? In case something happens in the middle of the night and she needs to be presentable.
Parton in the “9 to 5” music video. (Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)
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“I clean my face in the morning,” she said. “You never know if you’re going to wreck the bus, you never know if you’re going to be somewhere in a hotel and there’s going to be a fire. So I leave my makeup on at night and clean my face in the morning.”