Dolly Parton is an award-winning country artist, philanthropist, and actress.
Her hit songs "I Will Always Love You" and "Jolene" were inspired by real-life people.
Dollywood is a Parton-inspired theme park, but the singer says she's never been on the rides.
Dolly Parton didn't write "I Will Always Love You" about a romantic partner.
"I Will Always Love You," later popularized by Whitney Houston, is an iconic song in music history.
But contrary to popular belief, the lyrics center on the end of a professional relationship, rather than a romantic one.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Parton appeared with her mentor Porter Wagoner on his eponymous TV show. But when it came time for Parton to spearhead her own career, Wagoner was not happy, and a rift started forming.
"There was a lot of grief and heartache there, and he just wasn't listening to my reasoning for my going," Parton told CMT in 2011. "I thought, 'Well, why don't you do what you do best? Why don't you just write this song?'"
Parton penned "I Will Always Love You" later that day and sang it to him the next.
"He started crying," Parton told the Tennessean in 2015. "When I finished, he said, 'Well, hell! If you feel that strong about it, just go on — providing I get to produce that record because that's the best song you ever wrote.'"
Parton's smash hit "Jolene" was partially inspired by a bank teller.
The country lament "Jolene," one of Parton's biggest hits, is a tale of flirtation slightly inspired by a bank teller who set her eyes on Parton's husband, Carl Dean — who Parton said also loved the 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,'" Parton told NPR in 2008. "So it's really an innocent song all around, but sounds like a dreadful one."
In that same interview, Parton said the song's name came to her when she met a fan with red hair and green eyes, which she incorporated into the song's lyrics.
"I said, 'Well, you're the prettiest little thing I ever saw. So what is your name?' And she said, 'Jolene,'" Parton recalled. " … I said, 'That is pretty. That sounds like a song. I'm going to write a song about that.'"
She is Miley Cyrus' honorary godmother.
Back in the 1990s, Billy Ray Cyrus hit it big with "Achy Breaky Heart" and was the opener for some of Parton's shows. He also appeared in her video for "Romeo."
"We never did do a big ceremony, but I'm so proud of her, love her and she's just like one of my own," Parton told "Good Morning America" star Robin Roberts in 2009.
In addition to staying close to the pop singer, Parton guest-starred on the Disney Channel sitcom "Hannah Montana" as the titular character's godmother.
Parton rejected an offer from Elvis Presley.
Before Houston shattered records with her remake of Parton's "I Will Always Love You" for "The Bodyguard" (1992) soundtrack, the "King of Rock and Roll" wanted to sing it.
Parton said Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, once contacted her to discuss his client possibly covering the song, but the deal fell apart after Parton realized that she would have to relinquish 50% of the publishing royalties.
"I cried all night. I mean, it was like the worst thing. You know, it's like, 'Oh, my God … Elvis Presley,'" Parton told CMT in 2006. "And other people were saying, 'You're nuts. It's Elvis Presley. I mean, hell, I'd give him all of it.'"
"I said, 'I can't do that. Something in my heart says, don't do that,'" she added.
Parton said she eats pie instead of cake on her birthday.
"I don't eat much cake. I usually have pie on my birthday," Parton wrote in an email. "My favorite pie is chess pie. That is 'chess' not CHEST pie."
She once lost a Dolly Parton-lookalike contest.
Parton described herself as "flashy" and "flamboyant" during a 2019 interview with Elle, adding, "Had I not been a girl, I definitely would have been a drag queen."
But when she had the chance to embrace the glamour during a lookalike contest where she just needed to be herself, Parton lost.
"At a Halloween contest years ago on Santa Monica Boulevard where all the guys were dressed up like me, and I just overexaggerated my look and went in and just walked up on stage … I didn't win," she said in the 2009 interview with Roberts. "I didn't even come in close, I don't think."
Parton has tattoos to cover up small scars.
Parton's tattoos are something of an urban legend, with fans speculating if she had any and why she'd hide them. But in a 2020 interview with People magazine, she cleared up some of the confusion.
She said she was sick for a while, and her feeding tube and other procedures left scars that she decided to cover up with ribbon, bow, and butterfly tattoos, among others.
"I do have some tattoos, that's true. But they're tasteful. I'm not a tattoo girl," Parton said. "My tattoos are pretty, they're artful and they usually started out to cover some scar, not to make a big statement."
She can play a lot of musical instruments.
The country legend is a talented multi-instrumentalist who plays the dulcimer, banjo, guitar, piano, recorder, and saxophone, among others.
In a 2016 interview with Vogue, Parton said she plays "some of everything."
"My family's very musical, and everybody played musical instruments, so we just grabbed up anything and tried to play," she said. "Like I said, I ain't all that good at it, but I can play enough to make a show!"
Parton may have a wig for every day of the year.
Parton is known for her signature blonde tresses, and the superstar has an impressive collection of wigs to ensure that she never has a bad hair day.
And in the same Vogue interview, Parton struggled to give an accurate count of her collection.
"Oh, heavens, I have no idea. I can't really count them all," she said. "I always make a joke and say, 'I wear one almost every day, so I must have at least 365!'"
Parton has her own theme park but has never been on any of the rides.
Dollywood, which opened in 1961, is a theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, fashioned after Parton's childhood fantasies. It boasts an array of roller-coasters and water rides, but Parton has never experienced them herself.
"I don't ride the rides," she told The New York Times in 2019. "I never have. I have a tendency to get motion sickness. Also, I'm a little bit chicken."
"With all my hair I got so much to lose, like my wig or my shoes. I don't like to get messed up," she added. "I'm gonna have some handsome man mess it up, I don't want some ride doing it."
Parton said she sleeps in her makeup.
Most beauty gurus will tell you that a critical step in skin care is washing your makeup off before bed, but Parton's beauty routine flies in the face of conventional wisdom.
"You never know if you're going to wreck the bus, you never know if you're going to be somewhere in a hotel and there's going to be a fire," Parton told The New York Times in her 2019 interview. "So I leave my makeup on at night and clean my face in the morning."
Her parents paid for her birth with a sack of oatmeal.
According to Michael Williams' book "Eastern Sevier County," Parton grew up "dirt poor" in a two-room cabin with her 11 siblings and parents in Sevierville, Tennessee.
Their circumstances were so dire that her father, a tobacco farmer, paid for her birth with a sack of oatmeal.
But Parton told Entertainment Tonight in 2015 that she's never been ashamed of her upbringing or family.
"I've always loved being from where I am. I think my childhood made me everything I am today," she said. "I would trade nothing for being brought up in the Great Smoky Mountains."
Parton has earned two Guinness World Records.
In January 2018, Parton won two Guinness World Records: the most decades with a Top 20 hit on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart and the most hits on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart by a female artist for her six consecutive decades and 107 trending tracks.
"To receive these two Guinness World Records is so great," Parton said while collecting her awards. "Joining so many wonderful singers and songwriters who have been honored this way feels so special to me."
She added, "You never know when you start out with your work how it's going to turn out, but to have these two world records makes me feel very humbled and blessed!"
Parton's first crush was Johnny Cash.
As a teenager, Parton performed at the renowned Grand Ole' Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, where she laid eyes on the "Man in Black" himself.
"I was sitting in the audience and that's when I first knew about sex appeal," Parton told Nightline in 2012. "He had this tick when he moved his shoulder … and it was still sexy. It still got to me."
She said she wakes up at 3 a.m. to meditate.
In her classic song "9 to 5," Parton famously sings, "Tumble outta bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition." We can only assume all this takes place after she wakes up at 3 a.m.
"I do more work between three and seven than most people all day, because it's quiet and the energy's all low-key, except mine," she said. "I just love the wee hours."
She has spoken about following a low-carb diet.
Parton has named banana pudding, chicken and dumplings, and roast pork among her favorite foods, the latter of which she prefers a bit fatty. And she told The New York Times in 1992, "The greasier the food, the better."
But in recent years, she's spoken about being a bit more mindful of her diet.
"I'm a short little thing with a big, country girl appetite so I have to really watch it," Parton told Fox News in 2016. "... I'd be big as a house if I ate everything I wanted so I'm a big eater."
"My best bet is to stay on low carb because on a low carb you can actually eat quite a bit of food of the things you're allowed," she added.
Parton and her husband Dean have been married for over 50 years.
Parton launched a successful music career and found love in Nashville, Tennessee.
In the capital of country music, Parton met Carl Dean outside the Wishy Washy Laundromat, and they married two years later in 1966.
"We've been together most of our lives," Parton told People in 2018. "I always joke and laugh when people ask me what's the key to my long marriage and lasting love. I always say 'Stay gone!' and there's a lot of truth to that."
"I travel a lot, but we really enjoy each other when we're together and the little things we do," she added.
Parton and her bestie have been friends since childhood.
Parton's marriage is not her only enduring relationship — Judy Ogle has been Parton's closest friend for over six decades.
"Our parents knew each other, we grew up together, we were like sisters, became best friends," she told The Sun in 2019. "She was very quiet, I was very outgoing. So we made perfect friends. We went all through school together."
Parton created a library to promote literacy.
In 1995, Parton was inspired by her father's illiteracy and opened Dolly's Imagination Library in Sevier County, Tennessee, to provide an avenue for kids to learn to read.
The organization has since sent over 120 million free books to children worldwide.
"My daddy just loved it when all the little kids would call me 'The Book Lady,'" she wrote on the website. "That meant more to him than the fact that I had become a star and worked my butt off."
Dolly, the cloned sheep, was named after Parton.
In 1996, another Dolly made waves — but this one was a female sheep and the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.
Dr. Ian Wilmut, who led the team of scientists in Scotland behind the creation of Dolly, told BBC, "Dolly is derived from a mammary gland cell and we couldn't think of a more impressive pair of glands than Dolly Parton's."
And in a 2014 interview on the Scottish radio show SSE Hydro, Parton said she was flattered by the decision.
"I was told she was called after me because she had big mammary glands. She gave me a lot of competition …" Parton said. "I never met her but I always said there's no such thing as baaad publicity."
She saved her 9-year-old costar on the set of her 2020 Netflix film.
Parton appeared in the Netflix holiday film "Christmas on the Square" as an angel, which was fitting, since she saved her 9-year-old costar Talia Hill.
In a 2020 interview with Inside Edition, Hill said she was nearly hit by an oncoming vehicle on set but Parton pulled her out of the way.
Parton then reportedly told her, "Well, I am an angel, you know."
"And I was in shock. She hugged me and shook me and said, 'I saved your life!'" Hill said. "And my mom was crying, and she said, 'Yes, you did, Dolly Parton. Yes, you did.'"
Read the original article on Business Insider