Dolly Parton is a bonafide American icon. For more than half a century, the Tennessee native has been delighting audiences around the globe with her singing skills, acting talents, and humanitarian pursuits. Amazingly, the 75-year-old performer has managed to keep a fairly tight lid on her personal life, despite her enormous popularity. Which has prompted many fans to wonder about Dolly Parton’s children. Does she have any? Is she married? Here, we give you the answers.
Dolly Parton’s Career Started To Take Off In 1967
Born on January 19th, 1946, Dolly Parton was one of 12 children. She grew up in a small town in Tennessee, with very little money but plenty of encouragement from her family to sing and play guitar. She performed on local radio and TV shows as a child and appeared at the Grand Ole Opry when she was 13. After graduating from high school in 1964, Parton moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music.
Three years later, Parton scored her first big break on The Porter Wagoner Show. Wagoner was a well-established country singer and the two became a popular duo, recording a number of chart-topping country singles together. Eventually, Parton went solo and had her first number-one country hit with the song “Joshua” in 1971. Her country career continued to take off throughout the ‘70s, and by the ’80s, her songs had crossed over onto the Pop and Adult Contemporary charts as well.
Since then, Parton has won 10 Grammy Awards (including a 2011 Lifetime Achievement Grammy), 18 American Music Awards, and seven Academy of Country Music Awards. She’s also been nominated for two Academy Awards, three Emmy Awards, and one Tony Award. She’s appeared on a slew of TV shows and earned praise for her performances in the hit films 9 to 5 and Steel Magnolias.
But what fans seem to love most about Dolly Parton is her kind heart and humble nature. Despite all of her success, she says: “I still feel like the same girl. I’m just a working girl. I never think of myself as a star because, as somebody once said, ‘A star is nothing but a big ball of gas’—and I don’t want to be that.”
Dolly Parton Has Been Married To Her Husband For Over 55 Years
Many fans are surprised to learn that Parton has been married to her husband, Carl Dean, since 1966, which means he’s been by her side since the very beginning of her career. According to Parton’s official website, the pair met at a Nashville laundromat in 1964 and it was love at first sight.
“My first thought was ‘I’m gonna marry that girl,'” Dean said of meeting Parton for the first time. “My second thought was, ‘Lord she’s good lookin.’ And that was the day my life began.”
Because Dean rarely accompanies Parton to public events, the singer says people sometimes question whether he really exists. “A lot of people have thought that through the years because he does not want to be in the spotlight at all,” she told Entertainment Tonight in 2020. “It’s just not who he is. He’s like, a quiet, reserved person and he figured if he ever got out there in that, he’d never get a minute’s peace and he’s right about that.”
In fact, Parton says that his low-key nature is one of the reasons why they get along so well. “They say that opposites attract, and it’s true,” she told People in 2015. “We’re completely opposite, but that’s what makes it fun. I never know what he’s gonna say or do. He’s always surprising me.”
Parton added: “He wants to be mostly around the house. He knows I’m just the opposite. I can’t go enough places. I can’t do enough things. He loves that. He’s independent. He doesn’t need me in his face, and it’s the same with me. But when we’re together, we have enough things in common that it works.”
Why Dolly Parton And Her Husband Never Had Children
So why don’t Parton and Dean have any kids? “Early on, when my husband and I were dating, and then when we got married, we just assumed we would have kids,” she told Billboard in 2014. “We weren’t doing anything to stop it. In fact, we thought maybe we would. We even had names if we did, but it didn’t turn out that way.”
Thankfully, Parton is just fine with that and believes not having kids was meant to be. “I would have been a great mother, I think,” she told The Guardian in 2014. “[But] I would probably have given up everything else. Because I would’ve felt guilty about that, if I’d have left them [to work, to tour]. Everything would have changed. I probably wouldn’t have been a star.”
We think it’s safe to say that her fans are glad that didn’t happen! Because she didn’t have kids to care for, Parton was able to focus on her career—and her passion for helping others. She’s supported many charitable causes throughout the years and even founded her own non-profit, the Dollywood Foundation, in 1995. The foundation’s literacy program, the Imagination Library, distributes more than one million books each month to children around the world.
“I believed that God didn’t mean for me to have kids so everybody’s kids could be mine, so I could do things like Imagination Library,” Parton said in 2020. “Because if I hadn’t had the freedom to work, I wouldn’t have done all the things I’ve done. I wouldn’t be in a position to do all of the things I’m doing now.”