The hidden story behind Dolly Parton’s Success

There are many things about Dolly Parton that you don’t know, like how long she has been married and how many rides she has ridden at Dollywood. From her current political stance to her humble beginnings, read on to find interesting facts you may not know about this superstar. You won’t believe what she said about the 2016 Presidential Candidates!


Dolly Rebecca Parton was born January 19, 1946, in Sevierville, Tennessee. She was the fourth child out of 12. Her father was a construction worker and farmer and her mother stayed home and raised the children. Parton says her family was “dirt poor” and lived in a one-room cabin in a valley in the Great Smokey Mountains.

Parton grew within the church as her family lived in a large Pentecostal area. At just six years old, she started performing in church and got her first real guitar when she was eight years old, which her uncle gave to her.

Child Performances

Parton didn’t wait until she was an adult to start her career as a singer, she started when she was young. Dolly sang on the local television and radio programs in the Eastern Tennessee area. When she was ten, Parton was on the WBIR-TV and WIVK radio shows as well as The Cas Walker Show in Knoxville, Tennessee.

This young girl had some amazingly incredible luck when she was 13 years old because she sang at the Grand Ole Opry hotel and met Johnny Cash. Of course, Cash gave her sage advice and told her not to give up on her dreams and to follow her instincts.

Career After High School

Dolly Parton graduated high school in 1964 from Sevier County High School. Parton immediately moved to Nashville but didn’t find success as a singer right away. So what did she find success as? A songwriter. She wrote songs with her uncle Bill Owens quite often and even had two top ten hits.

These two hits were “Put It Off Until Tomorrow” by Bill Phillips in 1966 and “Fuel the Flame” by Skeeter Davis in 1967. Besides these artists, Hank Williams Jr. and Kitty Wells also sang songs that Parton wrote. She was not going to stop at songwriting though, as she wanted to sing herself.

Record Deal And Bubblegum Pop

Parton was signed to Monument Records when she was 19 years old in 1965. She was initially supposed to sing bubblegum pop music, which is upbeat music that was designed for teenagers during the late ’60s and early ’70s. Basically, they were one-hit wonders that didn’t go very far.

During this time, Parton released singles but none ever made it to the Billboard Hot 100. Dolly did the harmony on Bill Phillips’ 1966 hit, which allowed her to switch to the country genre. She created her first full-length album title Hello, I’m Dolly, which had two songs on it that reached No. 24 and No. 17 on the country charts in 1967.

Struggling Solo Career

Dolly was signed onto the RCA Victor label while she was working with Wagoner. Her first solo single for the company was “Just Because I’m a Woman.” It was released in the summer of 1968 and reached No. 17 on the charts, which was considered a moderate success.dolly-parton-02Pinterest

Even though Parton kept putting out singles throughout the late ’60s, none of her songs made it as high on the list as the songs she and Wagoner put out together. Eventually, Wagoner convinced Parton to record “Mule Skinner Blues” that was originally recorded by Jimmie Rodgers. This is what set her solo career in motion.


Once Dolly recorded “Mule Skinner Blues,” the song hit No. 3 on the charts and she recorded “Joshua,” which was her first No. 1 single. Over the next two years, her songs continued to top the charts as a solo artist as well as still having hit songs as duets with Wagoner. Her signature song “Coat of Many Colors” hit No. 4 in 1971. Other singles she recorded that had success included “Touch Your Woman,” “My Tennessee Mountain Home,” and “Travelin’ Man.”

These songs were put out in 1972 and 1973. Later in 1973, Parton put out her biggest hit of the time “Jolene.” This song not only topped the country charts, but it charted in the UK as well.

Transitioning Into Pop

Dolly Parton started the transition from country to pop between 1976 to 1977. Parton started working with Sandy Gallin, who would be her personal manager for the next 25 years. The 1976 album All I Can Do was co-produced with Wagoner but was directed towards the more mainstream and pop crowd.


The first album she produced herself, New Harvest…First Gathering came out in 1977 and had covered hits on it such as “Higher and Higher.” Even though the album didn’t do well, Dolly didn’t stop. She put out Here You Come Again, which sold over a million copies while reaching the top of the country charts and No. 20 on the pop chart.

Songwriting Career

Parton’s career started out in songwriting and it was never far away from her over the years. Her song “I Will Always Love You” has been heard many times, such as in The Bodyguard (sung by Whitney Houston), LeAnn Rimes sang a version on her album Unchained Melody: The Early Years, and Kenny Rogers sang it as well on his album Vote for Love.

Parton has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1980 and 2005, for the songs “9 to 5” and “Travelin’ Thru.” The latter song was also nominated for the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award and the Golden Globe for Best Original song in 2005.

Business Ventures

Dolly Parton is smart when it comes to diversifying herself. She invested a lot of her earnings in businesses in Eastern Tennessee, most of them being in Pigeon Forge. The theme park Dollywood is operated by The Dollywood Company, of which Parton is co-owner.

Other businesses operated by the same company include Dollywood’s Splash Country, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, and a dinner theater. The Dixie Stampede is a dinner theater that has locations in Pigeon Forge, Branson, Missouri, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Dollywood Company bought the Lumberjack Feud Dinner Show in Pigeon Forge, which was renovated and opened in 2016.

Plastic Surgery

Over the years Dolly has undergone numerous procedures of plastic surgery. In an interview, Dolly had commented, “It’s like what I always say: I may look fake but I’m real where it counts.” She can put makeup on in 15 minutes and is pretty much herself wherever she goes.

She has said, “I’m quite content with who I am/And if you ain’t, well, kiss my ham.” In addition, when asked about her plastic surgery in interviews, Dolly famously says, “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.” However, Dolly believes that to each their own and that no one should be so obsessive about how women look.

Look-a-Like Contest

Who could win a Dolly Parton Look-A-Like Contest better than Dolly Parton? Apparently, somebody else. She once lost the contest to another person. She walked into a contest on Santa Monica Boulevard where all the participants were dressed up as Dolly Parton and had very exaggerated looks.

Dolly said she “just walked up on stage…I didn’t win. I didn’t even come close, I don’t think.” How could Dolly Parton lose a contest when she is herself? She says it was guys who were dressed up so it could have been a drag show, but still, Dolly is still the best as herself!

Secret Tattoos?

Stories about Dolly being covered in tattoos (in the places her clothes cover her) have swirled for years. She rarely wears low-cut blouses or sleeveless dresses. But every now and then she’ll bend over a little too far or wear a sheer outfit, and it does appear that she has some color going on there. Until now, the tat stories were just considered rumors.Dolly-Parton-Long-Sleeves-1187576025Taylor Hill/Getty Images

But now, two celebrities have confirmed that the tattoos exist. Roseanne Barr and Jennifer Saunders, of Absolutely Fabulous fame, saw Dolly in a restaurant. After their encounter, Roseanne appeared on Craig Ferguson’s talk show and revealed, “I shouldn’t even tell this. Dolly Parton is totally tattooed…She showed me.” Roseanne continued, “She’s got all these awesome tattoos all over body—no black or blue lines, all like, pastel gorgeous bows all over everything.” Supposedly the tattoos are meant to cover up scarring from her many enhancement surgeries.

Dolly In The Closet?

There were rumors swirling around that Parton is secretly gay because of her close relationship with aforementioned childhood friend, Judy Ogle. People began speculating about how close the Dolly and Judy actually were.

When people compared her friendship with Judy to that of Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, Dolly had to set the rumors straight, telling Nightline, “Like Gayle, her friend, Judy, my friend, they just think that you just can’t be that close to somebody. Judy and I have been best friends since we were like in third and fourth grade… We still just have a great friendship and relationship and I love her as much as I love anybody in the whole world, but we’re not romantically involved.”

A Chart-Topping Success

The song that Dolly wrote was successful when Dolly sang it, but it really blew up after Whitney Huston’s version was heard in the 1992 film, The Bodyguard. The song, of course, was played at Huston’s funeral following the singer’s tragic death. Parton told Nightline, “When they played it at her funeral and they lifted her coffin up, man, it was like somebody stabbed me in the heart with a knife. It just overwhelmed me.”

After re-recording the song in 1982, Parton became the first singer to ever achieve a number one position on the charts with the same song. Houston’s version of the song was at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks. “I Will Always Love You” holds the record for being the best-selling single by a woman in music history.

The Start Of A Feud?

Because “I Will Always Love You” became phenomenally more successful after Whitney Houston’s version was released, this led many to assume that Dolly Parton was upset over the matter. Tabloids in the early ’90s spread rumors that Houston and Parton began to feud.

However, this was far from the truth. In fact, both of the singers spoke highly of each other. Houston told Rolling Stone that she had the chance to thank Dolly personally: “I talked to Dolly Parton by phone not too long ago,” she said in 1993. “She said to me [imitates Dolly’s accent]: ‘Whitney, I just want to tell you something. I’m just honored that you did my song. I just don’t know what to tell you, girl.’ I said, ‘Well, Dolly, you wrote a beautiful song.’ And she said: ‘Yeah, but it never did that well for me. It did well for you because you put all that stuff into it.’”

The Dollywood Foundation

Dolly Parton does good things with her money, especially as part of The Dollywood Foundation. The company brings tax revenue and jobs into areas of the country that are considered depressed and revitalizes them through this revenue. In addition, Parton has worked to raise money for HIV/AIDS charities as well as the American Red Cross.

In 2006, she gave $500,000 to a hospital and cancer center that was going to be built in Sevierville. She gave the commencement address in 2009 at the University of Tennessee and told the students to never stop dreaming. Is there anything she doesn’t do?

Dolly Parton’s Big Heart

As you’ve already learned from reading this, Dolly Parton grew up with humble beginnings. So humble, in fact, that her parents paid the doctor who helped deliver Dolly with a sack of grains! Do it’s no wonder that Dolly has an inclination to share her blessings with the world. Dolly told Paper that she doesn’t think celebrities are obligated to be activists or philanthropists:

“One thing I never do is tell people what they should be doing. All I can do is speak for myself, and I have always felt I had an obligation to give back. For me, it means a lot of different things… You also have to give a big chunk of yourself, but I don’t mind all that is expected from me. It comes with the territory and I would not change one thing.”

A Space For Everyone

Dolly Parton hosts an annual “Gay Day” at her Dollywood theme park. The park has become a popular tourist attraction for the LGBT community and Christian groups alike. This may seem like a contradictory mix, but for Dolly, everyone is welcome.

Parton told The Hollywood Reporter in 2014, “It’s a place for entertainment, a place for all families, period. It’s for all that. But as far as the Christians, if people want to pass judgment, they’re already sinning. The sin of judging is just as bad as any other sin they might say somebody else is committing. I try to love everybody.”

So This Is How Dolly Has Become So Successful!

Parton started her own publishing company just to control the rights to all over her songs. “As soon as you start making money, you should invest and get into other businesses that you can fall back on if you don’t make it big, or if you make it big and you fall on hard times,” Parton told BBC News.Yui Mok – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Parton’s business-minded mentality has earned her quite a fortune throughout the years and according to Forbe’s Celebrity 100 list, Parton earned $37 million from June 2016 to 2017. Much of that fiscal year’s revenue came from her Pure and Simple concert tour and her Dollywood theme park.

She Has A Bunker For All Her Dresses

If you think a room on her tour bus dedicated to wigs is excessive, then you’d be shocked to find out that Dolly Parton has a bunker full of every dress she’s ever worn at her estate in Nashville!Scott Gries/Getty Images

Dolly manager, Danny Nozell, divulged to The Guardian, “It’s like a weapons silo. Huge metal doors. You need to blow them off to get in there.” Considering the length of her career (Dolly is now in her seventies), Miss Parton most likely has acquired tens of thousands of dresses throughout the years. Since Dolly Parton’s style is something so signature to her name, it’s no wonder her dresses would be so heavily guarded.

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