Dolly Parton is definitely one of the most iconic and successful country singers of all time. Even if you’re not a massive country fan, you’ll no doubt have heard of Dolly Parton. The fabulous country music superstar is famous for pouring her heart out through her songs. Her music is known to be utterly personal.
She has always been an open book, too, having shared what feels like every part of herself and career with the public. But there’s a hugely important part of her life that Parton expertly keeps under wraps – and that’s her incredible 54-year marriage to husband Carl Dean.
Parton married Carl Dean early in her career before she had her breakthrough, and he has remained out of the limelight for years. The low-key couple is never photographed together and never give joint interviews. You will never see them walking the red carpet together.
So we’ve done some digging and found everything you need to know about Dolly Parton’s reclusive but supportive husband, Carl Dean.
He’s From the Capital of Country Music
Carl Dean was born on July 20, 1942, in Nashville, Tennessee, to Virginia Ginny Bates Dean and Edgar Henry Dean. He owned a Nashville-based asphalt-laying company since 1977 and worked on asphalt contracts.
He Has Inspired Many of Parton’s Hits
Carl Dean has played a role in his wife’s songs. The music icon famously wrote her hit-single “Jolene” after a redheaded bank teller got interested in Dean. “She got this terrible crush on my husband,” Parton said. “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.'”
The bank employee, Parton believed, had everything she didn’t, “like legs—you know, she was about 6 feet tall. And had all that stuff that some little short, sawed-off honky like me don’t have.”
Parton love songs such as “From Here to the Moon and Back,” “Forever Love,” “Say Forever You’ll Be Mine,” and “Tomorrow is Forever” were also written for Carl Dean. Later, in 2016, the notoriously private Dean served as the inspiration for Parton’s 46th studio album, Pure & Simple.
“I was just trying to think about all the different colors of love through the years,” Parton explained during her Rolling Stone interview. “I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to write about mine and Carl’s relationship. It’s just a pure and simple relationship,’ so it started with that and then I thought, ‘Well why don’t I just write a whole album of love songs?'”
But He’s Not That Fond of Her Music
Fans love Parton’s music all around the world; however, it doesn’t get the same reaction closer to home. She revealed that although Carl Dean has been by her side for the entirety of her career, he is not necessarily one of the biggest fans of her music
The country superstar admitted, “He likes hard rock, he likes Led Zeppelin and bluegrass music, so my music is somewhere in between…. he doesn’t dislike it, but he doesn’t go out of his way to play my records, let’s put it that way.”
Still, Parton said Dean has always supported her in his own way. “He’s proud of me,” she said. “And he loves that I love what I do.”
He Is Quite A Loner
“My husband is a loner. He doesn’t particularly care about being around anybody but me. He’s just always asked me to leave him out of all this. He does not like all the hullabaloo,” Parton said.
You can’t expect to see Dean sitting front row at Parton’s shows. He’d even only seen her perform a few times. “He doesn’t like crowds,” the singer told Huffington Post. “And I respect his privacy. I respect the fact that he loves to be out of the limelight. That’s one of the reasons I think we’ve lasted so long.”
In fact, the only way Carl Dean agreed to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows in a glamorous Nashville ceremony was that “it was a great opportunity for us to raise money for some very worthy causes.”
The couple sold their vow renewal photos to benefit the singer’s literacy charity, the Imagination Library. Dolly Parton’s husband, who is notoriously press-shy, even gave his first interview ever to accompany the photos; fans have submitted questions, and Parton did the asking. Parton’s wedding dress and Dean’s suit have also been displayed at Dolly’s Chasing Rainbows Museum at Dollywood.
He Made It Clear He Wanted To Stay Away From Her Celebrity Lifestyle
Parton brought Carl Dean to a BMI dinner in 1966, where she received her first songwriting award for penning the Bill Phillips hit “Put It Off Until Tomorrow.”
However, during the car ride home, Dean turned to her 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!” And she never did.
Ever since then, Carl Dean cheered her on behind the scenes. “He’s always supporting me as long as I don’t try to drag him in on it,” Parton later told PEOPLE. “He’s always been my biggest fan behind the scenes.”
Carl Dean Is A Fan of Jennifer Aniston
In 2018, Parton appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote the Netflix film Dumplin’, the soundtrack of which is made up of Parton songs. But the country icon discussed much more than that. She revealed that her husband is a fan of the Dumplin’ star Jennifer Aniston.
“My husband is crazy about her, and he was more excited that I was going to do a movie with her than he was that I got the chance to write all this music,” she said.
Carl Dean and Dolly Parton definitely have a unique marriage, but they make it work because they love and respect each other, and when they are together, they have a grand time!