Dolly Parton and her husband Carl Dean have been married for more than 50 years. The veteran country singer has been in the business for a long time and many would expect her to be touring extensively, which could affect her family life. But as Carl is in the background in Dolly’s career, did they have children after all?
Dolly Parton and Carl Dean got married in 1966, and while it is unsure when they officially met, it was a couple of years before this moment.
This means the pair are close to celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary, which is no small feat especially in the world of entertainment.
According to Dolly, the pair met when she was fresh off the bus to Nashville, and she was washing her clothes at the local launderette.
Speaking to the New York Times in 1976, she said: “I’d come to Nashville with dirty clothes. I was in such a hurry to get here…
“And after I’d put my clothes in the machine, I started walkin’ down the street … and this guy hollered at me, and I waved.
Dolly Parton – does she have children with her husband?
“Bein’ from the country, I spoke to everybody. And he came over and, well, it was Carl, my husband.”
The pair kept their relationship pretty quiet and even married in almost-secret with only a small number of witnesses present.
The couple secretly married on May 30, 1966, and travelled to Ringgold, Georgia to have a private ceremony where only the couple, Dolly’s mother, the preacher and his wife were in attendance.
The couple even kept the marriage secret for some time, before Dolly finally opened up on her love life.
Speaking on why this was the case, Dolly told CMT in 2016: “Everyone at my label — Monument Records and Fred Foster — had invested money in me and in building my career, so they asked me if I’d wait a year to get married.
Dolly Parton on stage
“And I didn’t want to not do what I was supposed to do.”
The couple were rarely seen together, and despite appearing on her record sleeve for her album My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy, Carl refused to go to many events, which Dolly has said came from an agreement between them.
Not much is known about their relationship, however, Carl has been the muse behind some of Dolly’s famous hits, including Jolene and From Here to the Moon and Back.
Speaking in a rare interview with Entertainment Weekly, Dean said of their first meeting: “My first thought was ‘I’m gonna marry that girl.’ My second thought was, ‘Lord she’s good lookin’.’
“And that was the day my life began. I wouldn’t trade the last 50 years for nothing on this earth.”
Dolly Parton celebrating with fans
This interview came in time for their 50th wedding anniversary, for which the pair exchanged their vows again in a far more lavish ceremony.
However, the couple did not have children.
This is for a variety of reasons, one of which she opened up about in an interview with The Guardian in 2014.
She said: “If we’d had a girl, she was gonna be called Carla… Anyway, we talked about it, and we dreamed it, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“You always wonder. My husband and I, when we first got married, we thought about if we had kids, what would they look like?
Dolly Parton with Miley Cyrus
“Would they be tall — because he’s tall? Or would they be little squats like me?”
Dolly said she would have felt “guilty” about leaving children to go on tour, saying she wouldn’t have been “a star” if she had a family.
As well as these reasons, in the 1980s, Parton had a partial hysterectomy because of the pain of endometriosis.
In 2008, she opened up about it for the first time, telling The Globe: “It was an awful time for me.
“Every day I thought, ‘I wish I had the nerve to kill myself.’”
However, working with Sylvester Stallone on the film Rhinestone helped her come out of a deep depression.
She added: “Even though the movie didn’t do that well, that was one of my greatest projects because Stallone was so full of life and so crazy and funny, and he made me laugh a lot, which was really healthy for me. That got me back on track.”
Despite not having children of her own, she has nieces and nephews and is referred to by them as Aunt Granny, and also is the godmother of pop star and actress Miley Cyrus.