“Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition…” Even if you aren’t a fan of country music, there’s no doubt you’ve probably heard of the legendary country artist Dolly Parton. As one of the most recognizable entertainers in the industry with her oversized bust and petite frame, the self-proclaimed “Backwoods Barbie” has been a singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, author and businesswoman for over five decades.
But just how successful is the “9 to 5” crooner? The Recording Industry Association of America has awarded the 70-year-old songbird with 25 platinum, multi-platinum and gold awards in additional to an impressive 25 chart-topping singles on the Billboard country charts, a feat that no other female country artist has ever achieved. Adding her starring roles in films like 9 to 5, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Rhinestone and Steel Magnolias and it’s no surprise that the 46-time Grammy nominee has amassed a jaw-dropping net worth of over $450 million.
Coming a long way from her humble beginnings as one of 12 children, Parton was born in Sevierville, Tennessee and often claims her family was “dirt poor” despite her father working as a tobacco farmer. With so many kids in the family, there wasn’t any money left over to splurge on extra things, which is one of the reasons why Parton has done so much to help children throughout her adult life. And, while everyone knows she has plenty of money with her sparkling costumes, blonde wigs and frequent trips to the plastic surgeon where she says, “If I see something sagging, bagging or dragging, I’ll get it nipped, tucked or sucked,” Parton is the most giving and brutally honest person alive even at home.
Married to Carl Dean since May 30, 1966 shortly after meeting at the Wishy-Washy Laundry Mat, Parton and Dean are proof that opposites attract, which is part of what has fueled their marriage over the last 50 years. Despite Parton owning 16 homes around the country, Dean has maintained his “down-to-earth” lifestyle as a retired asphalt paver even though Parton is happy to provide more than he could ever want or imagine. However, out of their 16 homes spanning the east to west coasts, one home remains the couple’s favorite and it’s not the New York city apartment or the $1.395 million estate in Hollywood that once belonged to Natalie Wood and is now what the “Jolene” singer refers to as her “whimsical oasis.” So which one is it?
Parton’s home in Brentwood, Tennessee is her and Dean’s absolute favorite, the only one they refer to as “the home place.” When Parton is busy traveling the world on tour and making guest appearances, Dean prefers to spend his time there where he feels the most at home. During an interview with Closer magazine, Parton summed up their relationship and their love of the home perfectly. “[Dean’s] happy staying home and I’m happy traveling. Once, many, many years ago, he went with me to Hawaii and he enjoyed that, but he never wanted to go anywhere else. We’re both pretty much old mountain goats.”
What exactly makes the Brentwood home so spectacular that Dean never wants to leave? Formally named “Willow Lake Plantation,” the estate is a stylish country mansion that sits among 63 gorgeous acres on Crockett Road, Route #1. With more than enough room for the bedazzled Barbie and her quiet husband, the house boasts 23 rooms decorated in Parton’s signature country style with the grounds offering a tennis court, swimming pool and plenty of rolling hills for their dogs and horses to roam. For the sake of both privacy and comfort, there’s a front gate and fence that surrounds the entire property as well as a separate guest house for the huge Parton clan.
Although Parton and Dean never had any children of their own, she raised five of her siblings and was later named as Mylie Cyrus’ godparent. Admitting that she always wanted children in her autobiography Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, Parton says taking birth control in her younger days caused her to have infertility problems. While many have also questioned her marriage to Dean over the years since he’s only attended one red carpet event, Parton is quick to stand by her man as he gives her plenty of freedom and she gives him his. Celebrating 50 years of marriage this year, Parton says, “We’re really proud of our marriage. It’s the first for both of us. And the last.”
Still managing to build her wealth thanks to her business venture as the owner and operator of the Dollywood Company and its dozens of theme parks throughout Tennessee as well as its business venues in Missouri, South Carolina and Florida, the 70-year-old is still going strong today and just might be busier than ever before. After spending the last half-century paving her way straight to the spotlight, the 10-year-old girl with a big voice on the radio has transformed into a bedazzled star who has left a lasting impression on the world with memorable hits like “I Will Always Love You,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “Jolene” and “Islands in the Stream.” This Backwoods Barbie tells it like it is and, because of that and her talent, is a true gem in the world of country music who refuses to forget her roots and just so happens to proudly call Tennessee her home.