Country singer Dolly Parton is an American institution. She had her first No. 1 U.S. country music hit in 1970 with “Joshua,” and she’s never looked back, going from strength to strength and hit to hit. Her music career alone would be enough to guarantee her place alongside Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn as country royalty, but there’s more to her than her timeless songs. Here are some quick Dolly Parton facts: She’s starred in classic movies like 9 to 5, written bestselling books, and is even a Kennedy Center honoree. Most of us would need several lifetimes to achieve everything that she has.
Dolly Parton is also almost universally beloved, treasured by residents of both blue and red America alike. In fact, she may be one of the few things most Americans can agree on these days.
20 Dolly Parton facts
There are a lot of reasons to love her, so we’ve listed 20 of those reasons here. We think you’ll agree that they explain why we will always love her.
1. Investing in the Moderna covid-19 vaccine
In April 2020, Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Covid-19 research effort. Some of that money went into funding what would become the just-announced Moderna coronavirus vaccine.
“I just felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money that will hopefully grow into something great and help to heal this world,” she said on BBC One’s The One Show.
“Jolene” was released as a single in 1973 and is possibly her finest song. It both “slaps” and is “fire,” as the kids today say, but we disagree with the lyric, “you could have your choice of men but I could never love again.” Dolly, you could find another man in five minutes.
3. That voice
Many singers who start out with great voices tend to lose some of it gradually to the aging process. Not Dolly, whose singing voice has lost not one iota of the power or the sweetness that’s characterized it since the 1960s. If you don’t own it, you may want to consider buying her album, “The Essential Dolly Parton.”
4. Her albums with the Trio
Dolly teamed up with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris for 1987’s Trio album, and the combination of their three voices is sublime. The album was so good they released Trio II in 1999, and both were reissued with a bonus disc as The Complete Trio Collection in 2016. It’s so good that its entire two-and-a-half hour running time seems to go by in five minutes.
5. She’s the greatest living American songwriter
A lot of people might award the title of “greatest living American songwriter” to Bob Dylan. However, our quite controversial opinion is that Dolly should get the distinction, in part for her clever and sincere turns of phrase, and also because of her unforgettable melodies. If you don’t believe it, listen to Dylan’s “My Back Pages” and then Dolly’s “My Blue Tears” back to back, and then see which one gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
6. ‘I Will Always Love You’
Dolly is also comparable to Bob Dylan in that both of them have had their songs covered a lot. However, Dylan never had one that became someone else’s signature song. Dolly’s 1974 hit “I Will Always Love You” was a smash for the late Whitney Houston, whose 1992 version became so associated with her that many people thought it was an original Whitney song.
7. She’s a quadruple threat
Dolly Parton is one of the only people in history to be nominated for an Oscar, a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy. Sadly, in three of those categories, she was a bridesmaid and never a bride, but she made up for it by winning 10 Grammys, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. And let’s not forget her 10 Academy of Country Music Awards wins.
8. She can act!
Dolly may never have won an Oscar, but when she made her feature film debut in 1980’s “9 to 5,” she capably held her own against such established actors as Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. That movie became an instant classic, and it paved the way for several well-received movies that would follow, such as Steel Magnolias.
9. She’s a survivor
Specifically, she’s survived appearing in some truly godawful movies, such as the Sylvester Stallone vehicle Rhinestone and Straight Talk opposite James Woods. She also had her own talk show, Dolly, which was cancelled after one season in 1987, to no ill effect whatsoever on her career.
Dolly Parton has her own theme park, Dollywood, because of course she does. It opened in 1986 in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and has a water park, a resort, rustic cabins, and Dolly Parton’s Stampede, a sort of hillbilly Medieval Times where patrons can watch a full rodeo while devouring a four-course meal.
11. Her duets with Porter Wagoner
Before becoming a star in her own right, Dolly Parton was introduced to the television-viewing public in 1967 on The Porter Wagoner Show. She and Wagoner made 13 studio albums together, and every single one of them is essential listening. She’s a great collaborator and duet partner on these albums, but it’s clear even on the earliest ones that she was a force of nature, and she wouldn’t stay a duet partner for very long.
12. ‘My Tennessee Mountain Home’
Speaking of essential listening, Dolly’s song “My Tennessee Mountain Home” off the 1973 album of the same name was not her biggest hit, but that’s irrelevant. An almost photorealistic depiction of her early life in rural Tennessee, the song has such sweet lyrics and such a hummable chorus that if you can’t enjoy it, you may need to seek medical attention.
13. ‘Coat of Many Colors’
Dolly’s 1971 song “Coat of Many Colors” off the album of the same name tells the story of a multicolored coat that her mother sewed together for her out of rags. When she gets to the couplet, “I know we had no money, but I was rich as I could be,” every person who has ever been poor will understand that this woman had struggled plenty herself, and could still describe it with crystal clarity.
14. She’s been married to the same guy for 54 years
In 1966, Dolly married Carl Dean, and she’s still married to him to this day. If you didn’t know this, it’s because Dean, who is now retired from his road-paving business, generally avoids the spotlight and is rarely seen with his famous wife. He’s always been committed to the marriage though, and in 2016, on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, the pair renewed their wedding vows.
15. ‘I Don’t Want to Throw Rice’
In 1967, Dolly offered her own entry in the woman-threatening-violence song sweepstakes with “I Don’t Want to Throw Rice.” It depicts a woman watching her ex get married to someone else, causing her to sing “I don’t want to throw rice, I want to throw rocks at her.” Dolly has other, better songs, but this is the one that most defies her reputation as an apple-cheeked sweetheart.
16. The next generation of YouTubers love her
The “reaction video” genre on YouTube has taken on a life of its own, and the platform is full of Generation Z kids hearing classic songs for the first time. “Jolene” eventually started making the rounds, and in June the channel “TwinsthenewTrend” featured twins Tim and Fred Williams listening to that song and loving it. The clip went viral and to date has been viewed more than four million times. The reaction by “Sincerely K.S.O” to “Down From Dover” is also a thing of beauty.
17. The movie ‘A Smoky Mountain Christmas’
A Smoky Mountain Christmas was a 1986 TV movie starring Dolly as a country singer who’s burned out on fame, so she leaves L.A. to celebrate Christmas in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains. It co-stars Lee Majors and will never appear on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest movies of all time. Nonetheless, it’s good-natured and engaging, and compared to most TV movies, it might as well be Citizen Kane.
18. She’s had cosmetic surgery & doesn’t deny it
While many celebrities who have cosmetic surgery will go to great lengths to deny it, Dolly not only admits it, she makes jokes about it. The quote, “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap” has been attributed to her, and superfans can even buy homemade T-shirts on Etsy bearing the slogan.
19. ‘Dumb Blonde’
The very first song on Dolly’s 1967 debut album Hello, I’m Dolly was “Dumb Blonde,” written by Curly Putman of “Green, Green Grass of Home” fame. It’s not her most famous song, but its placement as the first song on her first album showed that she understood perfectly well how she might be perceived. That perception caused her to say that she didn’t mind people making “dumb blonde” jokes about her because “I know I’m not dumb … and I also know that I’m not blonde.”
20. Her dedication to literacy
Founded in 1995, Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program providing kids up to age five with free books. There are participating communities around the world including in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the Republic of Ireland. Over the years, Imagination Library has provided nearly 150 million books to children.
“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true,” Parton has been quoted as saying. “I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer.
“The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”
This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.
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