Dolly Parton is one of the biggest names in entertainment. Throughout the course of her career, she has received 25 RIAA-certified gold, platinum, and multi-platinum awards. She has also had over 20 songs reach the No. 1 on the Billboard country music charts. Parton was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999.
And what do we know about her personal life? Who has been there supporting her every step of the way? Read on to learn about Dolly Parton’s family.
1. She Is Married to Carl Dean
In 1966, Parton married Carl Thomas Dean.
The two met when Parton was only 18. They married in 1966 in a private ceremony that was only attended by Parton’s mother.
In a statement for the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary in 2018, Carl said, “My first thought was I’m gonna marry that girl… My second thought was, ‘Lord she’s good lookin’. And that was the day my life began. I wouldn’t trade the last 50 years for nothing on this earth.”
The pair dated for two years before marrying. At the time of their wedding, Dolly was 20 and Carl was 23. They tied the knot in Georgia.
Dolly tells CMT, “My mother made me a little white dress and a little bouquet… But I said, ‘I can’t get married in a courthouse because I’ll never feel married.’ So we found a little Baptist church in town, and went up to Pastor Don Duvall and said, ‘Would you marry us?’ We got pictures on the steps right outside the church.”
Even though Dolly is incredibly famous, the couple has only appeared in the spotlight together a few times. Dolly tells A Taste of Country, “You can’t be in each other’s face all the time… Actually, I think that has been the best formula for us, the fact that we appreciate each other when we are together. We don’t have to be together all the time.”
2. She Has No Children
While Parton has plenty of experience with children (she works with children through her charity Imagination Library), she and Dean do not have any children of their own.
In an interview with Today’s Matt Lauer, Parton explained that it was always in her cards to be a mother for everyone instead of just a mother to her own children. “God has a plan for everything,” she said. “I think it probably was his plan for me not to have kids so everybody’s kids could be mine. And they are now.”
According to Country Living, Parton used to say she regrets not having children, but that has changed as she’s gotten older. “Now that Carl and I are older, we often say, ‘Aren’t you glad we didn’t have kids? Now we don’t have kids to worry about.'”
3. She Credits Her Mother as Her First Musical Influence
Dolly often credits her mother, Avie Lee Owens Parton, as her first musical influence.
Dolly is the fourth of twelve children born to Avie and her father, Robert Lee Parton Sr.
According to DollyParton.com, Avie Lee Owens Parton married Lee in 1939. The outlet writes, “As a wife and mother, she supported her family in everything she did, from canning food to caring for their medical needs.”
Growing up, Dolly’s father worked in the Tennessee mountains as a sharecropper, and later he worked on his own farm.
4. She Is Miley Cyrus’ Godmother
Dolly Parton is Miley Cyrus’ godmother.
According to CBS, Parton became close with Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley’s father, after his hit, “Achy Breaky Heart”, in the 1990s. Billy Ray even credits Parton with inspiring his acting career.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Billy Ray explains, “It’s great that she has someone like Dolly to idolize, someone to look up to… Having that type of influence in her life, it’s so amazing and so special.”
Parton has reportedly said that she considers Miley to be more like one of her nieces or a little sister. “I’m just real proud of her. She does not need my advice, but she’s often asking for information and advice, and I tell her what I know, but I think the girl’s doing all right without me,” said Parton.
5. She Has 11 Siblings
Dolly was raised with twelve brothers and sisters. Growing up, singing was a common activity for the Parton’s. It should come as no surprise that many of the Parton children decide to pursue careers in singing and entertainment.
Stella Parton, Dolly’s sister, is the voice behind the chart-topping 1975 song, “I Want To Hold You In My Dreams Tonight.” She even appeared in Dolly’s movie, Coat of Many Colors.
Her two sisters Cassie and Freida performed in the Dollywood show, “My People”, along with their brother, Randy, according to Country Living.
It doesn’t end there. Dolly’s brothers, Randy and Floyd, also followed up with musical careers. Randy sang on the soundtrack for the 1984 film Rhinestone, while Floyd has written and performed a number of songs with and for Dolly.