Today is the 75th birthday of Dolly Parton. She is a national treasure. The world is a better place because she is in it.
NAME: Dolly Parton
OCCUPATION: Actress, Songwriter, Musician, Singer
BIRTH DATE: January 19, 1946
PLACE OF BIRTH: Locust Ridge, Tennessee
GRAMMY Best Country Vocal Performance, Female, for Here You Come Again (1978)
GRAMMY Best Country Song, for 9 To 5 (1981)
GRAMMY Best Country Vocal Performance, Female, for 9 To 5 (1981)
GRAMMY Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, for Trio (with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris) (1987)
GRAMMY Best Country Collaboration With Vocals, for After The Gold Rush (with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris) (1999)
GRAMMY Best Bluegrass Album, for The Grass Is Blue (2000)
GRAMMY Best Female Country Vocal Performance, for Shine (2001)
HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME 6712 Hollywood Blvd.
COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME 1999
SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME
NASHVILLE SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME
BEST KNOWN FOR: Singer and musician Dolly Parton is a beloved cultural icon whose powerful voice, songwriting and personality have won the hearts of country and pop music fans for decades. She has also appeared in an array of screen projects.
Country music icon and actress Dolly Rebecca Parton was born on January 19, 1946, in Locust Ridge, Tennessee. Parton grew up poor in rural Appalachia. She was one of 12 children, and money was always an issue for her family. Her first exposure to music came from family members, including her mother, who sang and played guitar. At an early age, she also learned about music while performing in church.
Parton received her first guitar from a relative and soon began to pen her own tunes. At age 10, she started performing professionally, appearing on local television and radio shows in Knoxville. Parton made her Grand Ole Opry debut three years later. Set on a career in music, she then moved to Nashville after finishing high school.
Parton’s singing career really started to take off in 1967. Around this time, she partnered with Porter Wagoner on The Porter Wagoner Show. Parton and Wagoner became a popular duo and the pair recorded a slew of country hits together. Much was made of her shapely curves, petite stature and warm personality, which to some belied a thoughtful, visionary artist with a strong business sense. Since her early career, Parton has protected the publishing rights to her catalog of songs, which has earned her millions in royalties.
Parton’s work with Wagoner also helped her land a contract with RCA Records. After having had several charting singles, Parton scored her first number 1 country hit in 1971 with “Joshua,” a bluegrass-inspired track about two solitary figures who find love. More number 1 hits followed in the mid-’70s, including “Jolene,” a haunting single in which a woman begs another beautiful woman not to take her man, and “I Will Always Love You”—a tribute to Wagoner as the two parted ways professionally. Other country hits from this era included the ethereal “Love Is Like a Butterfly,” the provocative “The Bargain Store,” the spiritual “The Seeker” and the rollicking “All I Can Do.” For the range of her compelling work, she won the Country Music Association award for female vocalist in 1975 and 1976.
In 1977, Parton had her first crossover smash with the bouncy, bittersweet ode to a returning lover, “Here You Come Again.” The song reached the top of the country charts as well as number 3 on the pop charts, and also marked the singer/songwriter’s first Grammy Award, specifically for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female. More emotionally driven number 1 country hits followed including “It’s All Wrong, But It’s Alright,” “Heartbreaker” and “Starting Over Again,” a ballad written by disco star Donna Summer.
Parton perhaps reached the apex of her mainstream success in the 1980s. She not only starred with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the 1980 hit comedy 9 to 5, which marked her film debut, but also contributed to its soundtrack. The title song, with one of the most memorable opening lines in popular music history, proved to be another number 1 hit for Parton on both the pop and country charts and earned her an Academy Award nomination. Parton next starred with Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in 1982, which helped to introduce a new generation to her song “I Will Always Love You.” The following year she scored another major smash with “Islands in the Stream,” her duet with Kenny Rogers.
I look just like the girl next door . . .if you happen to live next door to an amusement park.
Around this time, Parton branched out in a new direction. She opened her own theme park called Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in 1986. The amusement park remains a popular travel destination to this day.
Over the years, Parton has enjoyed many other successful collaborations. She recorded the Grammy Award-winning album Trio with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt in 1987. In 1992, her song “I Will Always Love You” was recorded by Whitney Houston for the film The Bodyguard. Houston’s version catapulted Parton’s song into a new stratosphere of popularity, with the single sitting atop the pop charts for 14 weeks and becoming one of the bestselling singles of all time. “When Whitney did it, I got all the money for the publishing and for the writing, and I bought a lot of cheap wigs,” she told Anderson Cooper when he asked her how she spent her royalties from the song. Then in 1993, Parton teamed up with Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette for Honky Tonk Angels. Parton revisited her now signature song, “I Will Always Love You,” in 1995 as a duet with Vince Gill.
Parton explored the music of her Appalachian roots with The Grass Is Blue (1999) with a little help from such talents as Alison Krauss and Patty Loveless. The record won a Grammy (Parton’s sixth) for best bluegrass album in 1999. Parton was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and won another Grammy the following year for the song “Shine” off the 2001 album Little Sparrow.
In 2006, Dolly Parton received special recognition for her lifetime contributions to the arts as one of five artists feted at the annual Kennedy Center Honors. The performer has forged her own place in country music history, esteemed as one of the genre’s most popular artists. She also picked up a second Academy Award nomination for the song “Travelin’ Thru,” which appeared on the soundtrack for 2005’s Transamerica. Over the years, Parton has continued to work as an actress in an array of films and TV projects that include Rhinestone (1984), Steel Magnolias (1989), Straight Talk (1992), Unlikely Angel (1996), Frank McKlusky, C.I. (2002) and Joyful Noise (2012), having also hosted her own variety show in both 1976 and 1987-88. At the 50th Annual Country Music Association Awards in 2016, Parton is set to be honored as the recipient of the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award.
Continuing to write and record, Parton released Backwoods Barbie in 2008. The album featured two country singles, “Better Get to Livin'” and “Jesus & Gravity.” Parton got into a public feud with satellite radio shock jock Howard Stern around this time. She was upset after he aired a segment in which previous spoken recordings were manipulated to make it sound like she made obscene statements.
After writing so many of her own hits, Parton had penned the songs for a new musical based on her earlier hit workplace comedy, 9 to 5. The show, starring Allison Janney (who won a Tony for the role), ran on Broadway for several months in 2009.
Parton has showed no signs of slowing down. In 2011, she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and released Better Day, which fared well on the country album charts. In 2012, Parton published her book Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You. She is also the author of the memoir Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business (1994).
The TV movie Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, a biopic about the singer’s childhood, aired in 2015. It starred Alyvia Alyn Lind as young Dolly and Sugarland star Jennifer Nettles as Parton’s mother. The next year, Parton had her first number 1 country album in more than 25 years with the set Pure & Simple, supported by a North American tour. The 2016 holiday season will also see the airing of the biopic sequel Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love.
Dolly Parton has worked with charitable organizations in support of numerous causes over the years and established her own Dollywood Foundation in 1996. With the goal of improving literacy among young children, she created Dolly’s Imagination Library, a program which donates more than 10 million books to children annually. “They call me the Book Lady. That’s what the little kids say when they get their books in the mail,” she told The Washington Post in 2006. “They think I bring them and put them in the mailbox myself, like Peter Rabbit or something.”
Though many of her charitable contributions are anonymous, Parton has used her success to give back to her community by providing scholarships for children, donating thousands to hospitals and providing technology and supplies for classrooms.
Parton has been married to Carl Dean since 1966. The couple met at a Nashville laundromat, the Wishy Washy, two years earlier. On their 50th anniversary, the two renewed their vows. “My husband is not one who wants to be just thrown out there,” she has said about Dean. “He’s very private, and I’ve always respected that for him and about him.”
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Joyful Noise (13-Jan-2012) · G. G. Sparrow
The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom (4-Mar-2011) · Herself [VOICE]
Gnomeo & Juliet (23-Jan-2011) · Dolly Gnome [VOICE]
Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (11-Mar-2005) · Herself
Frank McKlusky, C.I. (27-Jun-2002)
Blue Valley Songbird (1-Nov-1999)
Jackie’s Back! (14-Jun-1999) · Herself
Get to the Heart: The Barbara Mandrell Story (28-Sep-1997) · Herself
Unlikely Angel (17-Dec-1996)
Big Dreams & Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story (22-Jan-1995) · Herself
The Beverly Hillbillies (15-Oct-1993) · Herself
Straight Talk (3-Apr-1992) · Shirlee
Wild Texas Wind (23-Sep-1991)
Steel Magnolias (15-Nov-1989) · Truvy Jones
A Smoky Mountain Christmas (14-Dec-1986)
Rhinestone (22-Jun-1984) · Jake
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (23-Jul-1982) · Mona Stangley
Nine to Five (19-Dec-1980) · Doralee Rhodes