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Who is Dolly Parton's husband? Inside her 57-year marriage to rarely-seen Carl Dean

Dolly Parton met her husband Carl Thomas Dean when she was 18

Dolly Parton pop up store
Jenni McKnight
US Lifestyle Editor
Updated: 10 May 2023
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Dolly Parton is one of country music's most iconic stars and has enjoyed decades of success, but her husband of 57 years, Carl Dean, prefers to stay out of the spotlight and is far less well-known than his wife.

While Dolly loves the limelight – she is co-hosting the ACM Awards alongside Garth Brooks on May 11 – her rarely-seen husband opts to live a quieter life. However, Dolly will occasionally give her fans a glimpse of Carl and even once shared a saucy video of herself dressing up as a Playboy bunny for her long-time love.

WATCH: Dolly Parton transforms into a Playboy bunny for husband Carl Dean

The couple has been married since 1966 before Dolly found fame and they still live in the same jaw-dropping home in Brentwood, Nashville, that they purchased in 1999 for $400,000. But what do we know about the man who inspired some of Dolly's biggest hits including 'Jolene' and 'Forever Love'? Keep reading to find out…

How old are Dolly Parton and Carl Dean?

Dolly Parton is 77 and was born in Tennessee on 19 January 1946. Her husband, Carl Thomas Dean, is three years older than her and will celebrate his 81st birthday in July 2023.

How did Dolly Parton and Carl Dean meet?

Dolly and Carl met outside their local laundromat in Nashville on the first day the singer moved to the famous music city in 1964. Dolly was 18 while Carl was 21 at the time. Two years later in 1966, shortly before Dolly released her first album, they were married in Ringgold, Georgia, with only her mother there as a witness.

Dolly Parton and Carl Dean on their wedding day© Photo: Getty Images
Dolly married Carl when she was 20

In the years that followed, Dolly became country music's most iconic star, while Carl stayed out of the spotlight, focusing on running his asphalt business. And don't expect to see him in the front row at his wife's shows – over the years he'd only seen Dolly perform a few times.

"No, he doesn't like to do that," Dolly told Ellen DeGeneres during an interview. "He gets nervous seeing me perform. It's almost like seeing your kid in a recital. He's afraid I'll mess up. Actually, he has seen me a time or two and it did relax him a little. He saw that I do mess up and it's OK because people are not gonna punish me for it."

dolly parton husband carl dean
Dolly was 18 when she met Carl

How long have Dolly Parton and Carl Dean been together?

Dolly and Carl wed on 30 May 1966, meaning they will celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary in 2023.

Dolly Parton and Carl Dean in the 1980s© Photo: Getty Images
Carl doesn't go to Dolly's shows

In 2016, the pair marked their 50th wedding anniversary in a very special way - they decided to get married for a second time. "We're going to get married again!" Dolly gushed to People ahead of their vow renewal. "I'll have a beautiful wedding dress, 'cause I didn't have a big long wedding dress when we got married, and we've got a suit for him, so we're going to dress up and take a bunch of pictures."

Do Dolly Parton and Carl Dean have children?

While Dolly herself was one of 12 children, she and her husband Carl never had children themselves - however, Dolly is godmother to popstar Miley Cyrus.

Carl dean and dolly parton© REX/Shutterstock
Carl prefers to stay out of the spotlight

In 2014, Billboard asked the country star if she regretted never starting a family to which Dolly said she did at first but doesn't anymore. "Early on, when my husband and I were dating, and then when we got married, we just assumed we would have kids. We weren't doing anything to stop it. In fact, we thought maybe we would. We even had names if we did, but it didn't turn out that way.

"Now that Carl and I are older, we often say, 'Aren't you glad we didn't have kids? Now we don't have kids to worry about.'"

dolly parton carl dean
Dolly and Carl have been married for 57 years

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