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Dolly Parton

Dolly PartonAKA Dolly Rebecca Parton

Born: 19-Jan-1946
Birthplace: Sevierville, TN

Gender: Female
Religion: Born-Again Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Matter of Dispute
Occupation: Country Musician, Actor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Jolene

The fourth child of a Tennessee tobacco sharecropper, Dolly Rebecca Parton was born into a life of poverty, sharing a single-room cabin with her parents and three older siblings. Eventually eight younger sibling would arrive to give the family a bit more company. Her mother and grandfather (a Pentecostal preacher) had both learned to play instruments (guitar and fiddle, respectively), and music had a significant presence in the Parton household; the difficult conditions of her life also provided an incentive to find something enjoyable to do with her time, so it was not long before Dolly became musically active herself. Beginning with a guitar provided by her grandfather when she was nine, she eventually added banjo to her repertoire, and by the age of 12 she was featuring regularly on the Knoxville television station WIVK.

Within a year of launching herself as a performer, Dolly had made her first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry and recorded her first record - a single titled Puppy Love, released by the Goldband label. After completing high school, she relocated to Nashville to launch her career in earnest. Success as a performer in her own right proved elusive at first, but the young musician managed to secure a foothold in the cutthroat industry through her skills as a writer, her first significant hit arriving in 1966 when a Bill Williams-recorded version of her song Put it Off Until Tomorrow climbed to #6 on the charts. A failed tenure with Mercury Records was followed by a slightly more productive term on Monument, although she would still not score a hit as a performer until 1967's Dumb Blonde. That same year she began a musical partnership with established country star Porter Wagoner, who quickly helped to arrange what would become a two-decade-long association with his label, RCA.

Her partnership with Wagoner provided a much-needed boost to her career, giving her regular television exposure on his variety series, frequent appearances with his group at the Opry, and placing her name in the charts with duets like The Last Thing on My Mind (1967), Holding On To Nothing (1968) and Just Between You and Me (1968). By the 70s this mutually-beneficial pairing would develop complications, as the two had conflicting notions regarding Parton's pursuit of a solo career; they continued their collaboration until 1974 despite these disagreements, by which time Parton's success had far outdistanced that of her mentor. The release of her first #1 song Joshua in 1971 had finally established her as a country star in her own right, the subsequent single Coat of Many Colors serving to reinforce her elevated status. Three years later the huge popularity of Jolene and I Will Always Love You positioned her at the top of the Nashville heap.

Parton made the most of her new popularity, exploring different media and musical styles to reach as diverse an audience as possible. One of her first projects was the syndicated television series Dolly, which premiered in 1976, but the program was abandoned after its first season when the singer found the added workload put too much of a strain on her voice. Her attempts to establish herself beyond the constraints of the country and western genre were considerably more successful, and during the late 70s she entered the pop charts several times: first with Here You Come Again (1977), and again with Heartbreaker and the disco-styled Baby I'm Burnin' (both 1978). In 1980 she managed to combine her first entry at the top of the mainstream charts with a big screen debut when she both starred and in provided the title song for the feature film 9 to 5 (a project that also included Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda). Over the next four years she repeated this film star/soundtrack star combination punch for two more films: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) and Rhinestone (1984).

By the middle of the 80s Parton's pop and film careers were beginning to overshadow her origins as a country singer, and in 1983 she scored another mainstream pop hit with The Bee Gees-penned tune Islands In The Stream, performed as a duet with fellow country-turned-pop artist Kenny Rogers (or, in his case, pop-turned-country-turned-pop). Two years later she established one of her best-known extra-musical business ventures, investing in the Silver Dollar City amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (also previously known as 'Goldrush Junction') and tranforming it into Dollywood; the park quickly became a significant tourist draw, and has since expanded to include attractions like Dollywood's Splash Country. A return to her country roots was finally made in 1987 with Trio, a collaboration between Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris that, despite its traditional approach, was given an enthusiastic recpetion from both country and pop fans.

In the closing years of the 80s, Dolly made a switch to the Columbia label and resumed her role as a popular country star, the album White Limozeen (1989) and its singles Why'd You Come In Here Lookin' Like That, Yellow Roses (both of which were country number ones), He's Alive, Time For Me To Fly and White Limozeen all finding their way into the country charts. That same year, she received strong critical notices for her supporting role in the ensemble cast of Steel Magnolias; another attempt at a television show had been made in 1987, but this second version of Dolly also only endured for a single season. As the 'young country' trend took control of the industry in the 1990s, Dolly was met with the first major impediment to her career: as was the case with many veteran country stars, she suddenly found herself being overlooked by radio and being denied significant promotional support. In response, Parton continued in a more traditional direction, recording the rootsy Honky Tonk Angels (1993) in collaboration with Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn. Her subsequent projects continued in this 'back to basics' vein, including a second Trio effort in 1999, the bluegrass collection The Grass Is Blue (also 1999) and the critically-acclaimed Little Sparrow (2001). Her popularity as a live act remained undiminished during throughout the 90s and 00s, and she has continued to regularly record and release albums into the fifth decade of her career.

Father: Robert Lee Parton (tobacco sharecropper)
Mother: Avie Lee Owens (d. 5-Dec-2003)
Sister: Freida Parton (twin)
Brother: Floyd Parton (twin)
Brother: Denver Parton
Brother: David Parton
Sister: Willadeene Parton
Brother: Bobby Parton
Sister: Stella Parton (vocalist)
Sister: Cassie Parton
Brother: Larry Parton (died at birth)
Brother: Randy Parton (actor, b. 15-Dec-1953, d. 21-Jan-2021)
Sister: Rachel Dennison (actress)
Husband: Carl Dean (m. 1966, reclusive, open marriage)
Girlfriend: Judy Ogle ("Sissy", personal assistant, unsubstantiated rumor, Dolly denies it)
Boyfriend: Blaise Tosti (according to him)

    High School: Sevier County High School, Sevierville, TN (1964)

    Dolly Parton
    Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner
    Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris 1987, 1999
    Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette 1993
    4-H Club
    Grammy Best Country Vocal Performance, Female, for Here You Come Again (1978)
    Grammy Best Country Song, for 9 To 5 (1981)
    Grammy Best Country Vocal Performance, Female, for 9 To 5 (1981)
    Grammy Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, for Trio (with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris) (1987)
    Grammy Best Country Collaboration With Vocals, for After The Gold Rush (with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris) (1999)
    Grammy Best Bluegrass Album, for The Grass Is Blue (2000)
    Grammy Best Female Country Vocal Performance, for Shine (2001)
    Hollywood Walk of Fame 6712 Hollyowood Blvd.
    Country Music Hall of Fame 1999
    Songwriters Hall of Fame
    Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
    Breast Augmentation Surgery
    Cherokee Ancestry Maternal
    Irish Ancestry
    Parodied As A Muppet Polly Darton
    Risk Factors: Depression, Obesity

    Joyful Noise (13-Jan-2012) · G. G. Sparrow
    The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom (4-Mar-2011) · Herself [VOICE]
    Gnomeo & Juliet (23-Jan-2011) · Dolly Gnome [VOICE]
    Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (11-Mar-2005) · Herself
    Frank McKlusky, C.I. (27-Jun-2002)
    Blue Valley Songbird (1-Nov-1999)
    Jackie's Back! (14-Jun-1999) · Herself
    Get to the Heart: The Barbara Mandrell Story (28-Sep-1997) · Herself
    Unlikely Angel (17-Dec-1996)
    Big Dreams & Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story (22-Jan-1995) · Herself
    The Beverly Hillbillies (15-Oct-1993) · Herself
    Straight Talk (3-Apr-1992) · Shirlee
    Wild Texas Wind (23-Sep-1991)
    Steel Magnolias (15-Nov-1989) · Truvy Jones
    A Smoky Mountain Christmas (14-Dec-1986)
    Rhinestone (22-Jun-1984) · Jake
    The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (23-Jul-1982) · Mona Stangley
    Nine to Five (19-Dec-1980) · Doralee Rhodes

Official Website:

Author of books:
Straight Talk (1992)
Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business (1994, autobiography)
Coat of Many Colors (1994, with Judith Sutton)

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