Dolly Parton

Inside Dolly Parton's 55-year marriage to husband she met at 18

The country legend's husband prefers to stay out the spotlight

Eve Crosbie

It's hard to believe but country legend Dolly Parton has been a married woman longer than she's been famous. The country superstar got hitched to husband Carl Dean all the way back in 1966 before her singing career took off.

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But what do we know about the man who inspired beloved country songs like Jolene and Forever Love? Keep reading to find out…


Dolly and husband Carl like to keep their marriage out of the spotlight

How old are Dolly Parton and Carl Dean?

Dolly Parton is 75 and was born in Tennessee on January 19, 1946. Her husband, Carl Dean, is three years older than her and turned 79 in July.

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 and Carl on their wedding day

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.

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"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."


Carl has been by Dolly's side for all of her country career

How long have Dolly Parton and Carl Dean been together?

Dolly and Carl wed on 30 May 1966, meaning that as of 2021, they have been married for 55 years. This year they celebrated their milestone emerald wedding anniversary.


Dolly and Carl are rarely papped together these days

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 husband Carl never had children themselves - however, Dolly is godmother to popstar Miley Cyrus.


While Dolly doesn't have any children of her own, she is godmother to Miley Cyrus

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."

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