Dolly Parton was born in Sevierville, Tennessee, the fourth of 12 children of Robert Lee Parton, a tobacco farmer, and his wife Avie Lee. She has described her family as being "dirt poor" and has outlined her family's poverty in such songs as "Coat Of Many Colors
The day after she graduated from high school in 1964, Parton moved to Nashville. Her first encounter with her future husband Carl Dean was at the Wishy-Washy Laundromat on her initial day in the Music City.
Her husband Carl Dean ran an asphalt road-surface-paving business in Nashville and stayed out of the spotlight. "He doesn't want to be in show business," Dolly told Extra's special correspondent Alecia Davis. "He's glad when I'm gone. He's glad when I'm home. He's funny. He makes me laugh a lot… We can be quiet together or we can be fun together."
Dolly has no children of her own but is the godmother of actress and singer Miley Cyrus.
Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, was born on July 5, 1996. The cell was taken from a mammary gland. She was named "Dolly" as, in the words of the project leader, "We couldn't think of a more impressive pair of glands than Dolly Parton's."
She's a huge fan of Cat Stevens, and says she owns every album he's ever made.
Although she's co-owned Dollywood theme park since 1986, Dolly claims she's "too terrified" to go on any of the rides.
Asked by South Florida Gay News about her songwriting routine, Dolly replied: "I write all kinds of ways. In the middle of the night, if it's something that I dreamed, if I am taking a bath, I have a tape recorder nearby or a notepad. I can write anywhere really, anytime for any reason."
"Sometimes, I plan in advance to take two weeks to just write, don't call me, and I just write in my old mountain home or lake house," she added. "I just let it flow and write till I get tired of it. Then I come back home. I usually take my old set of fingernails off, get a new set put back on, and then get back at it!"
Dolly Parton once anonymously entered a "Dolly Parton look-alike contest" but lost to a drag queen.
On April 20, 1959, a 13-year-old Dolly Parton released her first single "Puppy Love" on a small Louisiana label, Goldband Records. She had written the song with her uncle Bill Owens when she was 11.
In 1995, Dolly Parton launched the Imagination Library, to serve the children of her home county in East Tennessee. The country star's vision was to foster a love of reading among her county's children by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. Since the initial program launch in the United States, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library has gone from stocking a few dozen works to shipping over a million books a month to kids in the US, UK and Canada.
Dolly Parton has two entries in the 2018 edition of Guinness World Records
. They are for Most Hits on Billboard's Hot Country Songs Chart by a Female Artist (107) and Most Decades with a Top 20 Hit on Billboard's Hot Country Songs Chart (six between 1960s-2010s). The latter record was achieved when Dolly's 2016 re-recording of "Jolene
" peaked at #18.
Dolly Parton has a number of small tattoos, which she told Larry King aren't a statement. Rather, she got inked to cover scar tissue.
"I have a tendency to scar easily, and I'm so fair-skinned that I stay purple right where I've had a scar," the country star explained. "So I started having little pastel tattoos, pastel butterflies or little things, just to cover scars."
Dolly Parton revealed on an Wired Auto-Complete Interview
that she's got a huge weakness for potatoes.
"Every diet I ever fell off of has been because of a potato," the country star admitted. "Either French fries, or mashed potatoes, or baked potatoes. Potato, potato, potato! I never met a spud I didn't like."
Parton is very generous in her philanthropy. In 2017, she donated $1 million to the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville, where her niece was treated for leukemia. In 2020, she gave another $1 million to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center for coronavirus vaccine research.