Dolly Parton Has Been Married to Her Husband for 55+ Years and Is Super Low-Key About It

Country music legend Dolly Parton and her husband Carl Thomas Dean have been together for over a whopping 50+ years, and if that news doesn’t make you believe in love then I simply don’t know what will!

Though Dolly and Carl have an adorable history, they’re actually hardly ever seen out and about IRL, and pretty much all of their existing photos can only be sourced from Dolly’s personal collection (no seriously, try looking them up on Getty Images, lol). Luckily for you, it’s our mission to be nosy AF get all the facts so you can have *all* the deets on the famous couple—YW! Without further ado, scroll down to see Dolly Parton and her husband Carl’s relationship timeline in full:


The theme is love at first sight here, people! Dolly and Carl met outside the Wishy Washy Laundromat in Nashville, Tennessee when she was 18 and he was 21. And because these two are quite possibly the only ones who could get me to believe in fate, *of course* it just so happened it was the singer’s first day in the city (she had just moved from her native Sevierville, Tennessee to pursue singing).

According to a New York Times interview, Carl drove by in his pickup truck, saw Dolly, and “hollered” at her. And though she initially turned down his request for a date, she did invite him over while she was babysitting her nephew the following day.

A post shared by Dolly Parton (@dollyparton)

“He came up every day that week and we sat out on the porch. I wouldn’t even take him in the house,” she recalled. “Then my aunt got a day off, and she could keep the kid and that was my first chance to go anywhere with Carl and he drove me straight to his folks’ house and introduced me to his mother and daddy. ‘Cause he said he knew right the minute he saw me that that’s the one he wanted.”

Years later, Dolly added more context about just what happened after their meet-cute: “When I met my husband, he wanted to take me out to dinner,” she told People about their first few years of dating. “He pulled up to the drive-in window and got our food at McDonald’s. He only likes to go places where he can be comfortable.”

May 30, 1966

Though Dolly’s record label had initially asked her to wait a year before getting married as a strategic career move, love prevailed and the couple wound up tying the knot in Georgia so it wouldn’t be reported in the Tennessee press.

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“It was just my mother and Carl and me,” she dished to CMT of the ceremony in 2016. “We went across the state line to Ringgold, Georgia. My mother made me a little white dress and a little bouquet and a little Bible. But I said, ‘I can’t get married in a courthouse because I’ll never feel married.’ So we found a little Baptist church in town, and went up to Pastor Don Duvall and said, ‘Would you marry us?’ We got pictures on the steps right outside the church.”

Also in May 1966

It was a red carpet event for the books…since it’s most notably the only one Dolly and Carl ever attended together 👀. When she was 20 years old, Dolly received her first songwriting award for “Put It Off Until Tomorrow” and won BMI’s Song of the Year Award. However after walking the red carpet and staying for dinner, it seemed that the whole thing wasn’t really Carl’s M.O.

“After the dinner, we walked back out, and they brought us our car—I don’t even remember what we were driving then—and we got in it and headed for home. Carl turned to me and said, ‘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 them dang things again!'” the country artist dished at the Marty Stuart Jam in 2011, per The Boot. @ Dolly, if you’re ever looking for a plus one, I’m always avail—call me!

September 1969

Carl appeared on the cover of Dolly’s fourth album, My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy, which wound up reaching No. 6 on the U.S. Top Country Albums charts. Talk about a good luck charm!

^ I mean, it’s giving lumberjack chic!

October 1973

Dolly released one of *the* most iconic songs to date: “Jolene.” And though we all know the TL;DR version of the song, here’s exactly what inspired it, from the singer herself: “[A bank teller] got this terrible crush on my husband…and he just loved going to the bank because she paid him so much attention. It was kinda like a running joke between us—when I was saying, ‘Hell, you’re spending a lot of time at the bank. I don’t believe we’ve got that kind of money.’ So it’s really an innocent song all around, but sounds like a dreadful one.”

And if you thought I wouldn’t use this as an excuse to plug Dolly’s v famous goddaughter’s version of the song, you’re outta your mind. Take it away, Miley:


“From Here to the Moon and Back”—an ode to Carl—was released on Dolly’s Joyful Noise soundtrack album, which was a project done in collaboration with the musical film of the same name. Later on, Dolly would go on to record the track as a duet with fellow country musician Willie Nelson.

“I needed to write a beautiful love song,” Dolly mused during an interview with The Boot. “I picked my husband, who I love, and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll write some beautiful song about him.’ It was about my husband in the movie, played by Kris Kristofferson, so I thought in order to make it really real and really touching, I would write my real, true emotions about someone I really do love and have loved for more than half of my life.” S’cute!

May 30, 2016

The couple renewed their vows in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary, and it was all types of tender. But let’s allow Dolly to set the scene: “I got all dressed up in the most beautiful gown you’ve ever seen and dressed that husband of mine up. [Carl] looked like a handsome dude out of Hollywood….We had a few family and friends around. We didn’t plan anything big at all because we didn’t want any kind of strain, any kind of tension, any kind of commotion, so we planned it cleverly and carefully. We just had a simple little ceremony at our chapel at our place.”

A post shared by Dolly Parton (@dollyparton)

Also in honor of the special day, Carl released his first public statement (!!) about their ‘ship: “My first thought was, ‘I’m gonna marry that girl. My second thought was, ‘Lord she’s good lookin’.’ And that was the day my life began. I wouldn’t trade the last 50 years for nothing on this earth.”

October 2020

Dolly addressed a lot of the speculation that she’s observed claiming Carl doesn’t *actually* exist. “A lot of people have thought that through the years, because he does not want to be in the spotlight at all,” she revealed to Entertainment Tonight. “It’s just not who he is. He’s like a quiet, reserved person and he figured if he ever got out there in that, he’d never get a minute’s peace and he’s right about that.”

“I’ve always respected and appreciated that in him and I’ve always tried to keep him out of the limelight as much as I can. He said, ‘I didn’t choose this world, I chose you, and you chose that world. But we can keep our lives separate and together.’ And we do and we have. We’ve been together 56 years, married 54,” Dolly concluded. IDK about you, but I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, she’s doing something right here!

July 2021

One of *the* most iconic videos of the singer is uploaded to Instagram to celebrate her husband’s birthday:

A post shared by Dolly Parton (@dollyparton)

Dolly mentions that Carl had always loved her original 1978 Playboy cover, so to “make him happy” on his birthday, she decided to replicate the ensemble and set up her own photo shoot.

“Today is July 20, it’s my husband Carl’s birthday,” she said in the cheeky vid. “My husband always loved the original cover, so I was trying to think of something to do to make him happy. He still thinks I’m a hot chick, after 57 years, and I’m not gonna try to talk him out of that. And I hope he agrees.”

The singer then showcased framed side-by-side shots of the original cover and her 2021 recreation. “In the first one, I was kind of a little butterball,” she said. “Well, I’m string cheese now. But he’ll probably think I’m cream cheese, I hope.” Obsessed!

November 2021

Last holiday season, while we were trying to curate the #perfect IG caption for our Thanksgiving pics, Dolly blessed us with a cute throwback snap of herself and Carl looking absolutely amazing. The duo wore elegant ‘fits while smiling at the camera:

A post shared by Dolly Parton (@dollyparton)

March 2022

It is revealed that though Dolly initially wanted to turn down her nomination for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Carl actually encouraged her to go through with making an album geared towards the genre. “Even though I am extremely flattered and grateful to be nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I don’t feel that I have earned that right,” she announced in a statement at first. “I really do not want votes to be split because of me, so I must respectfully bow out….This has, however, inspired me to put out a hopefully great rock ‘n’ roll album at some point in the future, which I have always wanted to do! My husband is a total rock ‘n’ roll freak, and has always encouraged me to do one.”

How-ev-er!! In an interesting turn of events, the association actually would up declining the singer’s request to be removed from the ballot, saying, “In addition to her incredible talent as an artist, her humility is another reason Dolly is a beloved icon by millions of fans around the world.”


Soon after (aka the following month), Dolly confirmed she actually *would* accept the honor if she were to be voted in, dishing to NPR’s Morning Edition, “I’ll accept gracefully. I’ll just say ‘thanks’ and I will accept it because the fans vote.”

November 5, 2022

Surprise, surprise! After successfully being voted in this past May, Dolly was inducted at a ceremony in Los Angeles just a few weeks ago.

Thank you, Carl!

Aaaaaand that’s pretty much all the cuteness on these two! But rest assured, there will likely be more to come since I plan to continue stalking Dolly’s IG until the end of time ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

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