Celebrating 50 years of Dolly Parton

It's been over 50 years and Dolly is going stronger than ever.


by Katharine Wootton |

From the little girl from Appalachia who poured herself one big old cup of ambition and became a star, Dolly’s still one of the most recognisable and well-loved country singers on the planet. And even at the age of 74 she’s showing no signs of slowing down with no fewer than three new releases out this month. While her new book My Life in Lyrics takes a look back to the stories behind some of her favourite songs, Holly Dolly Christmas is her first festive CD release in 30 years featuring duets with her friends including Michael Buble and Billy Ray Cyrus. 14 new Dolly songs will also feature in her original holiday musical, Christmas on the Square, which premieres on Netflix on November 22.

So with so much going on as Dolly’s star seemingly rises once again, we thought we’d take this opportunity to remember the people and moments that have made her.

Dolly Parton

Dolly grew up in rural Appalachia, one of a poor family of 12 children. Listening to her mother sing and play the guitar, Dolly soon fell in love with music and started performing professionally on local TV and radio from the age of 10. Her big break, however, came in 1967 when she appeared on The Porter Wagoner Show.

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain” – Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton films

As well as her singing, Dolly made a movie career for herself starting with the 1980 hit 9 to 5 alongside Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, the title song for which also gave her a No.1 hit. Since then, she’s had 46 acting credits including in Steel Magnolias starring alongside the likes of Olympia Dukakis and Shirley MacLaine.


Read more: Jane Fonda's secret to not slowing down in later life

Dolly Parton husband

Dolly has been married to Carl Dean for 54 years – an incredible record in the showbiz world. They met at a local laundrette, when Dolly was just 18 and some years away from major fame but as her star ascended husband Carl, while preferring to stay away from the spotlight himself, has supported her every step of the way. In 2016, the couple marked their golden anniversary by renewing their wedding vows.

It’s a fact! Although Dolly doesn’t have any children of her own she is godmother to the well-known popstar Miley Cyrus

Read more: Shirley Bassey releases new album as a "thank you" to her fans

Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers

Dolly Parton has sung many memorable duets but one of her most treasured partnerships was with fellow country singer Kenny Rogers who she classed as a dear friend. Having both come from impoverished childhoods, they instantly got on when they started recording Islands in the Stream together in 1983. When Kenny sadly passed away earlier this year Dolly was among the first to pay tribute to him, saying “just know that I will always love you.”

Dolly and Kenny

Dolly's Imagination Library

Dolly’s always made it her mission to use her fame for good, in particular promoting a love of reading in young people through Dolly’s Imagination Library, a project she started in 1995 and which every year gives away millions of books to children for free, no matter of their family’s income.

Dolly at Glastonbury, 2014

She may have started her career back in the Sixties but Dolly Parton has always been keen to prove she’s as relevant now than ever, attracting ever-younger generations of fans, sone of which she picked up at her landmark 2014 performance at Glastonbury Festival

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Dolly Parton

Did you know? Dolly once turned down Elvis Presley. When she recorded I Will Always Love You, Elvis’ manager approached her to ask if the King could cover it. But as he wanted Dolly to surrender half the publishing rights, she said no and later memorably gave the song to Whitney Houston instead

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