Country music icon Dolly Parton and her husband, Carl Dean's love story is a perfect Hollywood tale. From the beginning, Dean knew that Parton would be his wife someday. However, people do not believe that he exists, which works in his favor.
Singer-songwriter Dolly Parton met her future spouse, Carl Dean, in 1964 on the first day she uprooted to Nashville. The pair were pretty young at the time, she was 18, and he was 21.
Parton and Dean locked eyes for the first time outside of the Wishy-Washy Laundromat Music City. They began dating shortly after.
Singer-songwriter Dolly Parton attending the 57th Academy of Country Music Awards on March 7, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Source: Getty Images
Dean once recalled crossing paths with the actress and thought he would marry her one day. Secondly, he could not resist her good looks:
"My first thought was, 'I'm going to marry that girl.' My second thought was, 'Lord, she's good-looking.' And that was the day my life began."
Meanwhile, his love also recounted their first interaction in a cover story for People in November 2018, revealing that he wanted to take her out to dinner:
"When I met my husband, he wanted to take me out to dinner. He pulled up to the drive-in window and got our food at McDonald's."
Even though she is a superstar, Dean is not part of Hollywood and prefers living an ordinary life. Hence he opts for low-key restaurants where he can be comfortable.
The "Jolene" singer admitted that she fell head over heels in love with Dean. But her happiness got overshadowed by people who advised her against getting married, suggesting that it would be unfavorable for her career.
However, Parton refused to listen to the outside noise. She and the love of her life tied the knot two years later, on May 30, 1966, in a private ceremony.
Only three individuals attended the nuptials, Parton's mother, the preacher, who officiated the ceremony, and his wife. The bride donned a knee-length white dress, low-heeled pumps, and a short, puffy veil. Parton and Dean married in Ringgold, Georgia, to avoid publicity in Tennessee newspapers.
A PRIVATE MARRIAGE FROM THE ONSET
Parton has continued to shield her long-lasting marriage with Dean from the spotlight for decades. Asked how she pulled it off for so many years, the "Joyful Noise" star revealed that wisdom from her mother went a long way.
"I learned early on, 'Always keep something back for you. You can give what you've got to give, but don't give it all away," she divulged. Parton said taking heed of the advice has benefitted her union:
"I've known how to keep my husband private. It's just natural to me to protect the things and the people I love and to protect my privacy."
Dolly Parton's husband, Carl Dean, pictured at his home in 1996. | Source: Getty Images
The legendary star has been in show business since she was ten years old and is an open book when it comes to other aspects of her life. However, not everything is out in the open.
As a woman of faith, Parton said some parts belonged to God, and some belonged to her. She added that she prayed for God to provide enough to share and enough to spare when it came to money.
Moreover, Parton knows how to unwind from the camera life as a well-known individual. On her days off, she and her husband take mini trips in their "little camper" to have picnic lunches in the Tennessee countryside. The couple also goes on date nights for low-key dinners at their favorite local spots.
Dolly Parton's spouse Carl Dean photographed walking the dog on February 15, 1996. | Source: Getty Images
While the lovebirds are known for leading a private life, they previously made one public appearance at a country music event. The two attended a BMI dinner in 1966, where Parton picked up her first songwriting award for Bill Phillips' recording of "Put It Off Until Tomorrow."
She was only 20 years old and not yet signed as a recording artist. Parton told The Boot in June 2011 that it was her first significant record which went No.1 for Phillips and was BMI's Song of the Year:
"Carl and I got dressed up, he was in a tux, and we drove to the dinner. We got out and walked up to the red carpet and went inside and sat through dinner and the awards."
A photograph of Dolly Parton's husband Carl Dean's house taken on February 15, 1996. | Source: Getty Images
Afterward, the duo headed home, and while on their way back, Dean turned to Parton and told her, "Dolly, I want you to have everything you want, and I'm happy for you, but don't you ever ask me to go to another one of the events again!"
Since then, the philanthropist has ensured that her beloved husband remains in the background of her illustrious career, telling Fox News in October 2017 that Dean preferred privacy because he did not choose the same path as her:
"I try to keep my husband out of the business. I love him enough to not expose him to it."
PARTON & DEAN RENEWED THEIR VOWS ON THEIR 50TH ANNIVERSARY
In May 2016, Parton and Dean celebrated 50 years of marriage, considered a lifetime for someone in showbiz. The couple marked the lauded milestone by renewing their wedding vows in yet another intimate ceremony just like their first, at Parton's Nashville home.
This time, there were family and friends to witness the auspicious occasion. Parton revealed she and Dean went for a simple ceremony because they wanted to avoid a strenuous process; hence they took a cautious approach.
But the two dressed up for their special day, "I got all dressed up in the most beautiful gown you've ever seen and dressed that husband of mine up. He looked like a handsome man out of Hollywood," Parton revealed.
The couple's enduring love inspired Parton's album "Pure & Simple." She told Rolling Stone in August 2016 that she tried to think of all the different colors of love over the years and came up with the idea to write about her relationship with Dean:
"It's just a pure and simple relationship."
Parton is happily married and said if she were to do it all over again, she would. The Tennessee native joked that she was "dragging" Dean into the next five decades:
"If I had to do it all over, I'd do it all over again, and we did. I'm dragging him kicking and screaming into the next 50 years. Wish us luck."
The "Here I Am" singer sang her husband's praises in May 2016, sharing that Dean had always been supportive of her and was an all-round brother, father, friend, husband, and a lover to her, adding, "I think he's proud that we've been in it this long!"
PEOPLE THINK PARTON'S SPOUSE IS NON-EXISTENT
In her book, "Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics," the country crooner said that she kept part of her life with Dean so private that people questioned his existence. She retold the story in an interview with Entertainment Tonight in October 2020:
"A lot of people have thought that [husband does not exist] through the years because he does not want to be in the spotlight at all."
Parton explained that her spouse is a reserved person and that he figured if word got out that he was married to her, he would never find peace. She noted that Dean was spot on about that.
The starlet shared that she respected his wishes and appreciated that about Dean. He wanted to preserve their life together while, at the same time, she got to experience life in the limelight, and it has worked out for the couple.
"Our joke about the fact, when people ask me why it's lasted this long, I say, 'Because I stay gone," said Parton, adding that being away gave her and Dean a chance to take a breather as husband and wife.
But they have a lot of respect and admiration for each other, have a great sense of humor, and have fun. The couple celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary in May 2022, and Dean has allowed Parton to shine while he supported her from the sidelines throughout her music career.
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