76 fascinating facts about Dolly Parton in honor of her 76th birthday

Ruby McKenzie
16 Min Read

Make a cup of coffee and flaunt your rhinestones; it’s Dolly Parton’s birthday! On Wednesday, Jan. 19, the icon turned 76.

To commemorate the country queen’s birthday, here are 76 fun facts about the star you may not have known.

1. Dolly Rebecca Parton was born on Jan. 19, 1946, as snow drifted over the Smoky Mountains.

2. Dolly was born to Dr. Robert F. Thomas. According to story, the rural doctor was compensated with a sack of cornmeal for delivering her.

3. Dolly grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains, at Locust Ridge.

4. Avie Lee Owens Parton, Dolly’s mother, married Lee Parton in 1939, when the couple was still quite young. “I get a lot of my spirituality and my music from my mom. But I’ve got my daddy’s nerve and determination and work ethic,” Dolly wrote in Songteller.

5. Dolly was the fourth child born to her parents, who had a total of twelve children. Avie and Lee had a dozen children by the time they were 35 and 37, respectively.

6. Dolly was raised in shacks and cottages without running water, heat, indoor plumbing, electricity, or electricity.

7. As a child, she made all of her clothing and toys.

8. Dolly began creating songs as a child.

9. Her debut song was titled “Little Tiny Tasseltop” after her corncob doll. Her mother dictated the lyrics to her.

10. Dolly’s song “My Tennessee Mountain Home” narrates her upbringing in the Great Smoky Mountains. The Chasing Rainbow Museum at Dollywood features a reproduction of her childhood home, along with some of the family’s original furniture.

11. Dolly states that the primary reason she works is to support her family.

12. She began entertaining small crowds at the age of eight and made radio and television appearances in Knoxville at the age of ten.

13. At the age of 13, she traveled to Nashville to perform on the Grand Ole Opry.

14. Dolly recalls her family frequently sitting on the porch and playing music together when she was a child. She’d pick up various instruments from visiting family members.

15. Dolly credits her Uncle Bill Owens with assisting her in breaking into the music industry. He took her to Cas Walker’s auditions, which resulted in her appearances on the Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour television and radio programmes. He also arranged for her to make a guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.

16. Dolly’s debut song, “Puppy Love,” was released in 1959 following a Louisiana recording session.

17. The song is dedicated to her first crush, Ed Shuler’s son Johnny.

18. Dolly graduated from high school as the first member of her family. She boarded a bus to Music City shortly after graduation.

19. On her first day in Nashville, Dolly met Carl Dean. “I’d left two boyfriends back home, and I thought the last thing I wanted was a boyfriend. So the first thing I do, the first day in Nashville, I meet Carl,” Dolly wrote in Songteller. “And I fell for him, and he fell for me.”

20. Dolly married Carl Dean in Ringgold, Georgia, about a month after her initial songwriting success. Dean has decided to remain out of the spotlight.

21. Dolly and her husband never had children of their own. In an interview, she said “God didn’t let me have kids so everybody’s kids could be mine.”

22. Dolly was rejected as a singer by nearly every major record label on Music Row, but she eventually signed with Monument Records and later departed for RCA.

23. Dolly is also well-known for her fashion sense. Dressmakers Lucy Adams and Ruth Kemp created several of her early classic theatrical ensembles in Nashville.

24. Dolly is an EGOT: This means she is one of a select number of individuals who have received at least one nomination from each of the four main American award organizations: the Emmy, the Grammy, the Academy, and the Tony.

25. In 2004, the United States Library of Congress presented Dolly with the prestigious Living Legend Award.

26. Dolly earned the coveted Kennedy Center Honors in 2006. Dolly earned the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.

27. The country superstar amassed more than 17 million online fans with her viral “Dolly Parton Challenge.”

28. Along with writing songs and taking the internet by storm, Dolly has also dabbled in writing books. The superstar has written the following books: “Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics”, “Coat of Many Colors”, “Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You”, “Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business”, “Dolly’s Dixie Fixin’s”, “Just the Way I Am” and “I Am a Rainbow”

29. Dolly Parton is releasing her first novel with author James Patterson. “Run Rose Run” is set to come out on March 7.

30. One of Dolly’s most iconic hits “I Will Always Love You” has logged at least 10 million performances, ranking it in the top 30 of BMI’s most-performed songs of all time. The following songs were also included: “Nine to Five” with 5 million performances, “Jolene” with 2 million performances and “Two Doors Down” with 2 million performances.

31. Dolly stated in a 2012 interview that she once entered a Dolly Parton lookalike contest and lost to a drag queen.

32. In 2019, Dolly celebrated 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. She performed alongside Dierks Bentley, Emmylou Harris, Toby Keith, Hank Williams Jr., and Margo Price on the sacred stage.

33. Dolly established her Imagination Library in Sevier County, Tennessee, in 1995.

34. The initiative, which sends a kid one book per month until they reach kindergarten, has subsequently grown throughout the United States, as well as Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland.

35. Dolly’s Imagination Library is inspired by her own father’s inability to read or write. “My daddy just loved it when all the little kids would call me ‘The Book Lady.’ That meant more to him than the fact that I had become a star and worked my butt off.”

36. Dolly’s Imagination Library has distributed over 120 million free books to youngsters in an effort to instill a love of reading in them. By clicking here, parents can register their children for the Imagination Library.

37. During the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Dolly virtually read bedtime stories to children all over the world with her “Goodnight Dolly” program.

38. The “Goodnight Dolly” program featured books from the Imagination Library and lasted for 10 weeks in 2020 while some families were under shelter-in-place orders.

39. If she isn’t setting records, she is breaking them. Dolly Parton now has three Guinness World Records under her belt.

40. Dolly contributed $1 million to Vanderbilt to aid researchers in their quest for a treatment for COVID-19.

41. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, Dolly’s $1 million donation to Vanderbilt helped in the discovery of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “When I donated the money to the Covid fund I just wanted it to do good and evidently, it is! Let’s just hope we can find a cure real soon,” she said.

42. Dolly’s contribution to vaccine research inspired a rewritten version of her song “Jolene.” Northeastern professor Ryan Cordell went viral for his parody called “Vaccine.”

43. Cordell’s not the only one to go viral for covering “Jolene.” Miley Cyrus’ backyard session of the song has several views as well. Dolly is Miley’s godmother.

44. In 1978, Dolly became the first country artist to appear on the cover of Playboy.

45. Several legislators and politicians have attempted to honor to the country’s queen.

46. In an interview, TV host Stephen Colbert asked former President Barack Obama how has Dolly Parton not gotten a Presidential Medal of Freedom yet? He replied, “She deserves one. I’ll call Biden.”

47. After the tragic fires in Gatlinburg in 2016, Dolly Parton raised more than $9 million for wildfire relief.

48. Dolly Parton’s first Christmas album in 30 years was released in 2020.

49. The album features a duet with Kent Wells, as well as collaborations with Michael Bublé, Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley Cyrus, Jimmy Fallon, and Willie Nelson, as well as a special song with her brother, Randy.

50. One of Dolly’s best Christmas memories is when her entire family worked together to save enough for her mother’s wedding band.

51. Dolly’s amusement park hangs millions of twinkling Christmas lights each year.

52. Dollywood began formally in 1986, but the amusement park dates all the way back to 1961 as a small-scale attraction. Aunt Granny’s, the Back Porch Theatre, and the Smoky Mountain Rampage were all added during the first season of Dollywood. Since its inception, the park has more than doubled in size.

53. Even with all of the fun at Dollywood, Dolly herself told The New York Times she has never been on the rides at her theme park. “I don’t ride the rides. I never have,” the singer tells The New York Times. “I have a tendency to get motion sickness. Also, I’m a little bit chicken. With all my hair I got so much to lose, like my wig or my shoes. I don’t like to get messed up. I’m gonna have some handsome man mess it up, I don’t want some ride doing it.”

54. According to TripAdvisor, Dollywood is one of the world’s top theme parks.

55. After the death of George Floyd, Dolly used her voice to speak out in support of the Black Lives matter movement. “Of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No! Everybody matters,” Parton said in an interview with Billboard.

56. Following her statements, tourists descended on Music City to photograph Dolly’s mural commemorating her support for Black Lives Matter.

57. Dolly has spoken out about an array of issues. Her 1968 hit “Just Because I’m a Woman” became a feminist hit and charted in several places, including South Africa.

58. While Dolly has blessed airwaves for years, she has taken her talents to Netflix as well. She starred in a 2020 Netflix Christmas musical called “Christmas on the Square” and has an entire “Heartstrings” series inspired by her songs.

59. Dolly is a jack of all trades, but she says if she could only be one thing she would be a songwriter. “The songs are my legacy,” Dolly wrote.

60. Dolly says she doesn’t have to be in a certain place to write a song. “On my tourbus, on an airplane, in the bathtub, or just about anywhere, the writing comes all the time,” she wrote in her book Songteller.

61. Dolly began writing her own songs and stories as a child, as her family reportedly did not go to the cinema.

62. When she’s able to make time for songwriting, Dolly calls it her “Godspace.” She says she feels closest to God when she writes. “A great line will come to me, and I’ll go, ‘Hey, thank You, Lord. I know I didn’t think of that,” Dolly wrote.

63. Dolly wrote the original lyrics for “Coat of Many Colors” on one of Porter Wagoner’s dry-cleaning receipts. The song later hit No. 4 on the country charts.

64. Dolly’s first royalty payment from songwriting came from Tree Publishing for $1.02.

65. In 1971, Dolly had her first No. 1 hit with the song “Joshua”

66. In 1967, Porter Wagoner hired Dolly for his singing troupe. She left the show in 1974 after writing “I Will Always Love You”

67. The song became one of the biggest hits in history with Dolly’s country version and Whitney Houston’s pop version.

68. “Jolene” is Dolly’s most recorded song. However, she didn’t win a GRAMMY for “Jolene” until 2017 through a collaboration with Pentatonix.

69. Dolly says it’s possible “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” were written on the same day.

70. According to sources, she has written about 3,000 songs, with approximately 450 having been recorded.

71. Dolly has an unheard “secret song” locked away at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort that won’t be released until 2045.

72. Dolly Parton’s latest song came out Friday. Read about the inspiration behind “Big Dreams and Faded Jeans” here.

73. Dolly was selected one of 2021’s People of the Year, alongside Sandra Oh, Simone Biles, and educators.

74. The Tennessee treasure recently raised $700,000 for victims of Middle Tennessee’s terrible flooding.

75. Dolly’s hometown honors the country music legend with historic marker. The “Tennessee Music Pathways” marker in Sevier County celebrates Dolly’s musical legacy.

76. The global celebrity stated that she had no plans to retire anytime near. She stated that she has “no plans to retire.”

Credit: klewtv

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