An internationally renowned superstar, the iconic and irrepressible DOLLY PARTON has contributed countless treasures to the world of music entertainment, penning classic songs such as “Jolene,” “Coat of Many Colors,” and her mega-hit “I Will Always Love You.”
Making her film debut in the 1980 hit comedy 9 to 5, Dolly earned rave reviews for her performance and an Oscar nomination for writing the title tune, along with her second and third Grammy awards. Roles in Steel Magnolias, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Rhinestone, and Straight Talk followed, along with two network television series, made-for-television movies, network and HBO specials, and guest-starring roles in series television. In 2006, Dolly earned her second Oscar nomination for “Travelin’ Thru,” which she wrote for the film Transamerica.
Born January 19, 1946 on a farm in Sevier County, Tennessee, Dolly is the fourth of twelve children. Her parents, Robert Lee and Avie Lee Parton struggled to make ends meet in the impoverished East Tennessee hills. This hard rural life was the foundation of Dolly’s career, as she began singing almost before she could talk, according to her father. By age 10, Dolly was performing on local television and radio shows in nearby Knoxville, Tennessee.
Dolly left for Nashville the day after her high school graduation. On her first afternoon there, she met a young man, Carl Dean, who would become her husband. Two years later, in May 1966, they were married. “He’s good for me, cause he’s so different in nature from me,” she smiles.
In 1967, Dolly’s career took off when country music superstar Porter Wagoner began featuring her on his popular syndicated television show, attracting the attention of record executives at RCA. Dolly and Porter had 14 Top-10 hits together, and Dolly quickly blossomed into one of the best-selling country artists in music history. By 1974, Dolly ended her working relationship with Wagoner. She was voted the Country Music Association Female Artist of the Year two years in a row, and in 1978, Dolly was named the CMA Entertainer of the Year.
In 1974, “I Will Always Love You” topped the charts and did so again in 1982, when it was revived in the movie Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, making Dolly the first artist to earn a No. 1 record twice with the same song. In 1992, the song was recorded by Whitney Houston for the movie The Bodyguard and went on to sell in excess of 4 million copies, topping the charts once again.
Dolly saw a cherished dream become a reality in 1986 with the opening of her own theme park, called Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains.
In 1988, she began the Dollywood Foundation to inspire children in her home community to dream more, learn more, do more, and care more. Currently the foundation funds the Dolly Parton Imagination Library across America and in Canada, giving preschool children a book each month until the child reaches kindergarten.
Long respected for her instinctive business savvy, Dolly established Velvet Apple Music (BMI) early in her career and owns the copyrights and the publishing for her vast songwriting empire. She owns her own successful record label, Blue Eye Records.
Dolly Parton transitioned her flair for making hit music into producing hit movies and television shows when she established Sandollar Productions with former manager, Sandy Gallin. A film and television production company, Sandollar has produced feature films such as Father of the Bride I and II, Straight Talk, Sabrina, Shining Through, IQ, and the Academy Award-winning (for Best Documentary) Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, along with Fox television shows Babes and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Her 1994 autobiography was aptly titled My Life and Other Unfinished Business.
Dolly Parton is the most honored female country performer of all time. Achieving 25 RIAA certified gold, platinum, and multi-platinum awards, she has had 25 songs reach No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts, a record for a female artist. She has 41 career Top-10 country albums, a record for any artist, and she has charted 110 singles over the past 40 years. She has garnered seven Grammys, ten Country Music Association awards, five Academy of Country Music awards, and three American Music awards, and is one of only five female artists to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year Award.
In 1999, Dolly Parton was inducted as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. She has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and became a member of the National Academy of Popular Music Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2004, the U.S. Library of Congress presented her with their Living Legend Award for her contribution to the cultural heritage of the United States. This was followed in 2005 with the National Medal of Arts.
In December 2006, Dolly was honored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for her lifetime of contributions to the arts. In June 2007 Dolly was named the recipient of the Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. In February 2011, Dolly received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Yet with all of the national and international recognition given her, Dolly Parton calls the bronze statue of her that stands on the courthouse lawn in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee, her “greatest honor, because it came from the people who know me.”
Always dreaming and always looking forward, Dolly is busier than ever. She is wrapping up filming for Joyful Noise, a movie in which she co-stars with Queen Latifah. In July 2011, Dolly embarks on the Better Day World Tour, and is playing shows in the United States, Europe, and Australia while supporting her fourth album on her own Dolly Records: Better Day, released in June 2011.