Dolly Parton Got Secretly Married Despite Backlash from Producers

Dolly Parton and husband Carl Dean


There are quite a few interesting, new revelations about singer Dolly Parton’s life in the A&E biography about her that aired Sunday, April 12, not the least of which is the fact that she was secretly married for a year without telling her music producers. Read on to find out why they didn’t want her to get married and what her relationship is like with her husband, the rarely-seen man named Carl Thomas Dean.

Dolly and Carl Met Outside a Laundromat and It Was Love at First Sight

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In a 1984 interview with Interview Magazine, Parton revealed that she met Dean the very day she moved to Nashville.

“I met him the first day I got to Nashville, in 1964. I graduated on a Friday night, went to Nashville on a Saturday morning with dirty clothes and I went to a laundromat looking for anything but love. I had just left two boyfriends back home and I wasn’t looking to get involved because I had gone to Nashville to really get started in the business,” said Parton, adding, “We dated for two years before we got married. I often get myself in love trouble because I’m so passionate; I love so much and so deep. But Carl’s a special guy, I didn’t have any problems with him.”

Dean said of their first encounter, “My first thought was, ‘I’m gonna marry that girl.’ My second thought was, ‘Lord, she’s good lookin’.”

According to Biography, Dean had to enlist in the Army soon after he met Parton, so they had a long-distance relationship for two years before marrying on May 30, 1966, in a secret ceremony in Georgia.

Dolly Parton’s Producers Wanted Her Public Image to Be That She Was Single

It’s not a secret that Parton is a bombshell. So when she started to make a name for herself in Nashville, her record label didn’t want her to get married because she was more marketable as a young, hot, single woman. Her biographer Lydia Hamessley, author of Unlikely Angel: The Songs of Dolly Parton, explained in the A&E biography that Parton didn’t really care what her producers thought.

“Dolly was not looking for a husband when she came to Nashville. She was looking for a career. Her producers also did not want her to get married and she went ahead and did it anyway because when Dolly wants to do something, I think she does it,” said Hamessley. “She kept the marriage a secret for a year, but I think that was very clever because she demonstrated to her producers that she could have a marriage and still be successful.”

And even after Parton went public about their marriage, Dean has avoided the limelight, content to admire his wife’s career from afar. In fact, two Nashville session musicians, Lloyd Green and Wayne Moss, said in the A&E biography that they’ve never met Dean, nor do they know anybody who has — but one very famous person has.

Parton’s friend and 9 to 5 co-star Jane Fonda says in the documentary that she met Carl Dean when she went to visit Parton in Tennessee.

“I have met Carl. Carl is very handsome,” said Fonda. “I spent the night at their home in Nashville and Carl cooked us breakfast, very delicious breakfast. First time I had fried green tomatoes. And I remember sitting at the breakfast table and I said, ‘Describe the first time that you saw Dolly.’ ‘Well, he said, ‘I was driving my truck and I drove past a 7-Eleven and I saw her, she was drinking an RC Cola’ and he was trying to articulate with his hands and his language [how beautiful she was] and he got so worked up that he fell backwards in his chair.”

In May 2016, Parton and Dean celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows, according to Parton’s official website.

The Dolly Parton A&E biography airs Sunday, April 12 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., followed by Willie Nelson: American Outlander, a special concert that pays tribute to Nelson’s seven-decades-long career.

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