The legend, Dolly Parton, celebrates her 77th birthday on Thursday. Her talent, paired with a compassionate soul and a bubbly personality, are just a few reasons why she is loved by so many.
Parton began writing hit songs right out of high school. Shortly after moving to Nashville in 1964, she signed with Monument Records. The rest is history.
To celebrate her birthday, here are seven facts about her life.
Rags to riches story
Parton worked hard for her success. She grew up in a one-bedroom cabin in Sevierville, Tennessee, alongside 11 siblings and her parents, Avie Lee Owens Parton and Robert Lee Parton.
Over 50 years of marriage with Carl Dean
She married Carl Deal in Ringgold, Georgia, in 1966. The two met outside the Wishy-Washy Laundromat the first day Parton moved to Nashville, according to People magazine. Dean preferred a life away from the camera but they made it work.
Her reaction to Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’
Parton had written and recorded the song in 1973 as she bid her business partner Porter Wagoner goodbye to pursue a solo career. According to The Tennessean, the chart-topping song was later covered by Whitney Houston. When Parton heard her version, she said that she almost wrecked her car.
“I was heading home, and all of a sudden, I had the radio on, and I just heard the a cappella part: ‘If I should stay ...’ It kind of got my attention, but it hadn’t registered yet. And I thought, ‘What?’ All of a sudden, she went into the chorus, and I thought ... ‘This is “I Will Always Love You!’” she said, per the The Tennesean.
Hit ‘9 to 5’ launched her acting career
At this point in time, Parton had established herself as a successful musician. The film “9 to 5” was an ’80s comedy directed by Colin Higgins. The musician starred alongside Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, playing three working women who want to overthrow their boss.
Parton won a Golden Globe for her performance as well as a number of trophies for the song that started it all. The movie has inspired a television series of the same name, as well as a Broadway musical.
Her Imagination Library in Tennessee continues to make a difference
Launched in 1995 as a tribute to her late father, the program mails one book a month to a child until they reach kindergarten. It’s been rolled out nationally and globally, reaching Canada, Great Britain, Australia and Ireland.
Imagination Library has gifted nearly 200 million books to date, according to the website.
She has a theme park but never rides the coasters
Parton opened her very own theme park, Dollywood, in 1986. The theme park is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and welcomes more than 3 million visitors a year.
Along with the theme park, Dollywood boasts a water park, resort and shows. But you won’t find Parton on any of her own rides.
“I don’t ride the rides. I never have,” the singer told The New York Times. ”I have a tendency to get motion sickness.”
To Miley Cyrus, she is ‘Aunt Dolly’
On Disney’s “Hannah Montana,” Dolly Parton was a recurring guest star as Miley Stewart’s “Aunt Dolly.” This is because Parton is Miley Cyrus’ real-life godmother, a role she was given due to her longtime friendship with Cyrus’ father, country star Billy Ray Cyrus, per Insider.
For Miley Cyrus’ New Years Eve Party in 2022, Cyrus and her sister, Noah Cyrus, performed a duet of Parton’s 1974 hit, “Jolene.”