10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dolly Parton
Happy birthday, Dolly Parton! Today, the queen of country music turns 65, and in honor of her birthday, Taste of Country has compiled a list of 10 fun facts about Parton. Although she had some success as a songwriter, Parton received her first big break when she was asked to join ‘The Porter Wagoner Show’ in Nashville as Wagoner’s sidekick. Since then, Parton has had 25 No. 1 singles on the Billboard charts and more than 40 albums charting within the Billboard’s Top 10 country albums. In 2009, she also tied with Reba McEntire as the only artists to have had No. 1 hit songs across the past four decades leading up to that year. Going from a humble start in the Great Smokey Mountains to becoming one of the most recognized and glamorous women in the music industry was not an easy road for Parton. However, to this day, the country singer remains the same humble, kindhearted and humorous person that she always has been.
10. In 1996, scientists named the world’s first cloned mammal — a sheep — after Dolly Parton. When asked about the name choice, Scientist Ian Wilmut said, “Dolly is derived from a mammary gland cell, and we couldn’t think of a more impressive pair of glands than Dolly Parton’s.”
9. She supports gay marriage. On gay marriage, Parton said, “I always say, ‘Sure — why can’t they get married? They should suffer like the rest of us do!'”
8. Parton has been married to asphalt-paving business owner Carl Dean since May 30, 1966. She admits to staying faithful despite calling herself a flirt. “He knows I’m a flirt and a tease but it’s harmless,” said Parton. “I’ve never met the man that would take his place.”
7. Her family — which included 11 siblings, herself the fourth — was extremely poor when she was growing up in the backwoods of Tennessee’s Great Smokey Mountains. “You know they always talk about two rooms and a bath? We had two rooms and a path. We’d have running water when we’d run to get it,” Parton said. “We didn’t have any electricity … if fireflies were out, we’d catch them in a mason jar and put them in our bedroom!”
6. Dolly Parton is the godmother of Miley Cyrus. Parton has even made guest appearances as Aunt Dolly on the popular Disney show ‘Hannah Montana.’
5. She once lost a Dolly Parton lookalike contest. “I just over-exaggerated my look and went in and just walked up on stage. I didn’t win. I didn’t even come in close, I don’t think,” she said.
4. Parton has stopped trying to disguise herself in public, because her voice is always a giveaway. “I remember once I was going Christmas shopping. I did my makeup completely different with dark eyebrows, and wore a short black wig, and wore different clothes than I would normally wear,” Parton said. “I said something, and this group of kids said, ‘You’re Dolly Parton in a black wig!'”
3. Although she’s owned the theme park Dollywood for more than 20 years, she’s too “terrified” to ride any of the rides. Still, Parton’s investment in rural Pigeon Forge, Tenn., with attractions like Dollywood and her dining-entertainment attraction the Dixie Stampede, has rejuvenated the area and gives jobs to thousands of local residents.
2. She refused to sell Elvis Presley the publishing rights to her hit ‘I Will Always Love You.’ Elvis’ manager called Parton the day before the recording session and told her that he and Presley wouldn’t record any songs that they didn’t have at least half of the publishing rights to. “It had nothing to do with Elvis, because hopefully he was disappointed too, but I just wouldn’t let him have the publishing,” said Parton.
1. Since she was 7-years-old, Parton has written approximately 5,000 songs. Parton considers herself a writer first and foremost — singing has always come second. According to her website, Parton writes a song every two or three days, and she always makes time to write on her birthday. She wrote her first song about her corn-cob doll. She was not able to write yet, so her mother had to copy the lyrics for her.