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5 Facts About The Incredible Life of Dolly Parton

With the massive musical and performance success that Dolly Parton has achieved, you might be surprised to learn that she began her life in poverty, with hardly anything to her name.

Having earned her place as a music legend, with hits like “9 to 5” and “Jolene,” it’s easy to deem Dolly an expert in her work. Her talent combined with her unrivaled tenacity led her to achieve feats most others only dream of. Here are some interesting facts about Dolly Parton’s life that you might be unaware of…

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Humble Beginnings

The singer grew up with next to nothing. In fact, her parents were so poor that they paid baby Dolly’s delivery doctor, who was also the town preacher, in cornmeal after helping deliver her.

Her childhood home was more of a cabin, and featured no electricity or running water. She also shared beds with each of her 11 siblings at one point or another. Perhaps as a result of surviving in such outrageous conditions, she would remain close with much of her family over the years.

Eat Up

Dolly hit the road the day after graduating high school at the age of 17. She decided to head to the country music capital, Nashville, Tennessee, but she was in for an unpleasant surprise.

Her path to stardom was anything but easy. Finding herself starving on many occasions, her creativity and desperation would have her eating from discarded plates on room service carts while staying at hotels. She even created her own kind of soup using free ketchup and mustard packets when she couldn’t afford groceries.

Silver Screen Dreams

During the 80s, Dolly found herself excelling in the very different arena of acting. Her success on film closely paralleled her achievements with her music, where she appeared in films like The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and Steel Magnolias.

In fact, her hit song “9 to 5” was written and recorded during this phase of her acting career, and is lauded by critics as one of the most influential songs to expose issues facing the working class. The song can still be heard at all types of rallies today.

It‘s also occasionally used by politicians looking to get their message to blue collar workers, and many people consider it an anthem for those facing income inequality, and unfair labor laws.

Back To Her Roots

Around the time of her acting gigs, Dolly opened a theme park in the Appalachians named “Dollywood.” The park was built across the mountain from where she was born, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.


Even throughout all her success in Hollywood, Dolly never forgot her roots, and maintained strong ties to her home state. Dollywood receives over a million visitors each year, and serves as one of the single largest employers in the entire area.

In 2016, when wildfires scorched Pigeon Forge and the surrounding areas, Dolly didn’t hesitate to donate over three million dollars to the local residents to help them rebuild.

Dolly also went on to create scholarships, as well as a book delivery service for children under five years old, to help promote literacy. Her personal inspiration for these academic gifts may have been her father, who was illiterate, but was always considered by Dolly to be “the smartest man” she’d ever known.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

21st-Century Dolly

 Although the singer’s popularity dwindled during the 90s, younger generations have begun to discover her music, and develop an appreciation for just how talented she is.

On another note, Dolly has been criticized for not revealing her political views. However, the singer insists that she’s an entertainer, not a politician, which many applaud her for. Her fanbase is made up of such diverse backgrounds that it became important to her to avoid excluding or singling out any groups.

The sheer number, and different types of people that Dolly Parton is able to bring together is incredible. Not only do people adore her music and acting, but she’s beloved for who she is as a person, as well.