Dolly Parton Has Finally Opened Up About Her 53-Year Marriage

Have you heard the story of Dolly Parton and her husband? No? Well, you’re probably not alone. After all, chances are that you might not even have known that Parton has a husband. And that’s because the outspoken country rarely talks about her private life with Carl Dean, a man who’s every bit as quiet and reclusive as his wife is confident and loud. Yet the pair have been married for over 50 years – and what Parton has to say about the love of her life might just come as a surprise.

Dolly Parton always wanted to be on stage, of course. And while the young Parton undoubtedly had plenty of talent, she had a remarkable amount of luck as well. Just 24 hours after she graduated from high school, for instance, the ambitious teen packed her bags for Nashville – and it was a good thing she did.

The would-be star then quickly made Nashville her new home. And it wasn’t long before she ran into a man named Carl Dean outside the Wishy Washy Laundromat. It was the classic unexpected romantic encounter – because affairs of the heart were the last things that Parton had on her mind at that point. Still, she fell for Dean immediately.

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In 2014, in fact, Parton recalled the moment that she first encountered Dean. “I was walking down the street to the laundromat, and he stopped me,” she explained. “He said, ‘Hey, you’re going to get sunburned out here!’” The following conversation turned out to be one of the most important of Parton’s life, too.

Parton has also revealed more about these early stages of the relationship on her website. “I was surprised and delighted that while he talked to me, he looked at my face (a rare thing for me),” she said. “He seemed to be genuinely interested in finding out who I was and what I was about.”

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The young pair – Parton was aged just 18, while Dean was 21 – then started to go on dates. And as it happened, they were a match made in heaven; their seemingly opposing personalities fit together perfectly. And so, after two years as boyfriend and girlfriend, the couple decided that it was time to get married.

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But Parton’s record label wasn’t happy with the idea of her walking down the aisle. In fact, the label requested that she delay the nuptials for a while. Parton wasn’t having any of that, however. Showing the independent spirit that would make her a music legend, the singer simply eloped to Georgia with her fiancé.

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The wedding was a very small one as a result. In fact, the only guests present to witness the union were the preacher, the preacher’s wife and the bride’s mother, Avie Lee Parton. But as you might expect, the happy couple were nonetheless beaming on the day.

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Parton’s wedding was also non-traditional in another respect: she didn’t publicly take her husband’s name. So, although her passport changed to read Dolly Parton Dean, the star remained known to her fans as Dolly Parton. “I didn’t change names because I already had a record deal. It made no sense,” she told The Guardian. “[Dean] never asked me to.”

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Back in those days, you see, the couple couldn’t have known for certain that Parton was going to make it as a singer. They certainly didn’t know that she’d become a world-famous one. But by the mid-1970s the young blonde was topping the charts with hits such as “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You.”

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Yet one of her other hit tunes – as diehard Parton fans will know – was actually written for her husband. Yes, “From Here to the Moon and Back” is all about her relationship with Dean. Throughout the track, in fact, the lyrics state, “Love everlasting, I promise you that, from here to the moon and back.”

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Sadly, though, a sudden thrust into the spotlight has spelled the end of many a relationship. Yet fame and fortune did not break the bond between Parton and Dean. In fact, he was a reclusive businessman in the paving industry with no desire whatsoever for celebrity. But he nonetheless stood by his wife through it all.

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Dean even had to put up with affair rumors. In the ’80s and ’90s, specifically, there were whispers that Parton’s marriage to Dean was a front for a relationship with her pal Judy Ogle. But in 1991 Parton firmly told Vanity Fair, “She’s not my lover. She has never been my lover. If we were lovers, I would not be ashamed of it, I’d just say there’s a great love between us – so there.”

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In fact, Parton was adamant throughout that whole period that neither party in her marriage was worried about affairs. She told Rolling Stone in 1980, “My husband likes the freedom as much as I do. He’s got his own work to do, and he’s glad when I’m gone a certain amount of time. We’re not afraid that one of us is gonna run off with somebody else, because we couldn’t find in nobody else what we found in each other.”

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So the decades passed, and the pair remained bonded by marriage. It was seemingly a blissful union too. When the pair hit 50 years together, then, they decided to celebrate – by renewing their vows in a private ceremony. The May 2016 event was so exclusive, in fact, that no images have ever been released.

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But even though there are no public photos, Parton was happy to paint a picture of the marriage with her words. “He really is my best friend,” she told Closer in March 2017, finally speaking to the world about her most treasured but private of relationships. “If I had it to do all over, I’d do it all over again. And we did.”

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“I’m dragging him, kicking and screaming, into the next 50 years!” Parton joked to the publication. And the star had another little treat for her loyal fans, too. The couple’s wedding outfits – Parton’s dress and Dean’s suit – went on display at the Dollywood theme park in July 2017.

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With so very little known about her relationship, though, it’s in some ways refreshing to hear Parton opening up about it. On the star’s official website, for example, it’s stated that the couple have faced “many of life’s obstacles” and “plenty of unique challenges.” But we may never know the exact details for certain.

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Yet we do know the most important thing: the pair love each other very much. “Nearly every aspect of Dolly and Carl’s personalities compliment one another,” Parton’s website reads. “While one would think Dolly would be the most entertaining of the two, she often says that it’s Carl’s unique sense of humor which keeps her laughing.”

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Parton’s sister Stella thinks the couple are perfect for each other as well – even with Dean being as private as he is. “When it’s important stuff family-wise, he’s there – weddings, births, and funerals. But he doesn’t care a thing about all the public stuff. It’s not his bag at all, and we respect that,” she told Closer.

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In the press release for the vow renewal ceremony, however, Dean did answer one question about his relationship. When asked what it was like the first time that he saw Parton, he replied, “My first thought was, ‘I’m gonna marry that girl.’ My second thought was, ‘Lord, she’s good looking.’ And that was the day my life began. I wouldn’t trade the last 50 years for nothing on this Earth.”

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Parton shared some of the secrets of her relationship to People in 2018, too. She said, “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.”

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Some of those little things are as simple as eating fast food. Parton remembered, “When I met my husband, he wanted to take me out to dinner. He pulled up to the drive-in window and got our food at McDonald’s. We know a few little places we can go without being bothered. He only likes to go places where he can be comfortable!”

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Parton said her husband also “knows [she’s] always going to kind of be fixed up for him because [she doesn’t] believe in going home and being a slouch.” But the star added that Dean doesn’t mind if she doesn’t look 100 percent all the time. She said, “He doesn’t care what I wear as long as I’m happy. He loves me the way I am.”

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About her vow renewal ceremony, Parton said, “I never really felt like I had the wedding that we really wanted. He got all dressed up, and I got all dressed up. Fifty years is a long time for anything, and I felt that we needed to do something to commemorate this. It’s been a good 50 years, and I don’t know how many more years we’ll have left.”

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After all, in February 2019 Parton shared a slightly shocking secret: her husband doesn’t particularly like her music. This is despite the fact that Parton has won multiple awards, including nine Grammys, three American Music Awards and seven Academy of Country Music Awards, among others. Apparently, though, her songs just aren’t to his taste.

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Appearing on the show Good Morning Britain to advertise 9 To 5: The Musical, Parton explained, “He’s not necessarily one of the biggest fans of my music.” Dean also tends not to watch her perform her songs live on stage. However, this is for another reason – and a touching one, at that.

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Parton told the Good Morning Britain host, “For years and years, he would never come to the shows because he felt like he’d get nervous if I messed up. So he never wanted to watch it. The first time he saw me perform and that I was in control of the stage, he was okay.”

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Dean has now seen his wife perform on stage “maybe a couple or two” times, according to Parton. She said, “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.”

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But despite that, Dean has nothing but pride in her many accomplishments, Parton claimed. As she explained on Good Morning Britain, “He’s proud of me. And he loves that I love what I do. I think it’s just… it’s a touchy subject. I’m like his little girl, I think. He just worries about that.”

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That same month, Parton also discussed her life and marriage with British tabloid The Sun. The interviewer brought up the old rumors about Parton and her friend Judy Ogle, and once more she firmly denied them. She said, “People love to talk – but sometimes that’s your best publicity. I don’t care what they say as long as they don’t hurt other people I love.”

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Though The Sun mentioned that Parton and Dean might have had an “open and free relationship” at one point, Parton herself said nothing about this rumor. She only said of her husband, “He’s a good man. It is a true love story, and he’s my best buddy. He’s crazy, he’s funny.”

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Parton went on, “So I think laughter has been a big part of our relationship. We both have a lot of fun. And we’re not in the same business. He doesn’t care about that. He’s pretty much a homebody, loves staying around home. We live out on a farm. He likes to mow the fields and work on his tractors.”

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The Sun also brought up the subject of children. That’s because Parton had a hysterectomy at the age of 36 and thought that a family of her own probably “wasn’t meant to be.” She does have a famous goddaughter, though: pop star Miley Cyrus. Parton is friends with her father, Billy Ray.

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The Sun asked Parton whether she thought she’d have been as successful if she and Dean had had children. She answered, “Chances are, not. I look at everything like it happened the way that it was supposed to. I’m pretty sure if I’d had kids I would not have done as much. I always think, ‘Well, maybe God didn’t mean for me to have children, so everybody’s children could be mine.’”

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Yet there are a lot of members of Parton’s family; she was one of 12 kids born to her parents. But she doesn’t necessarily feel like she or Dean missed out. She told The Sun, “My husband feels the same way. Now that we are older, we’re almost kind of glad that we don’t have a bunch of grandkids driving us crazy.”

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Later on in 2019 Parton released a new show for Netflix called Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings. The show is an anthology about the inspirations behind some of the singer’s most popular songs, such as “Jolene” and “Two Doors Down.” And naturally, people asked about Dean while she was promoting it.

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On the red carpet for the premiere of the show, for instance, Parton told People, “[Dean is] always supporting me as long as I don’t try to drag him in on it. He’s always been my biggest fan behind the scenes, but he’s at home. I don’t think they’re probably showing much of this on TV and if they do, he might see it.”

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Parton added of her husband, “But anyway, he’d never come dragging around. I’d rather bring somebody else with me, you know? He’s never jealous of that either.” For the Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings premiere, in fact, the singer ended up bringing designer Steve Summers, plus an assortment of pals and relatives.

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So while the relationship between the international megastar and the humble businessman may not be very public – or even particularly conventional – it seems to have worked out extremely well. And from the way both of them have spoken of each other, something has become evident. That’s to say, the Parton-Dean marriage might be one of the healthiest in showbiz.

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Yet it’s not unusual for celebrity couples to come under increased scrutiny. For instance, Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman seem to go together like a horse and carriage. But despite the fact that Urban and Kidman have been married for over ten years, rumors still persist about the health of their relationship. It was highlighted again at 2017’s Emmy Awards when many claimed Urban was annoyed by his spouse kissing her co-star. Now, though, the couple have made a momentous decision – one that should put to rest any whispers and speculation. And it may just take you by surprise…

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Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban first met in 2005 at the G’Day USA gala. It proved to be love at first sight – for Kidman at least. She said on Ellen in 2013, “I’m like, ‘You didn’t love me at first sight, you didn’t notice me,’ and he’s like, ‘Yes I did, but I just didn’t let on.’ But we kind of met and then about four months later he called me.”

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And the call from Urban certainly went well, as the pair quickly become infatuated with each other. So much so, in fact, that they got engaged in the spring of 2006. After just a short time knowing each other, then, Kidman and Urban were getting ready for their big day.

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Speaking to Elle in 2014, Kidman reminisced on the speedy engagement. She said, “I kind of like getting married and then getting to know each other; I know that it sounds incredibly strange, but to me, it’s a more natural process.”

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So on June 25, 2006, the couple said their vows and got married. The ceremony took place in Kidman’s adopted homeland of Sydney, Australia, and featured many celebrity figures at the wedding. Among them were the likes of Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.

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However, shortly after the big occasion, Urban went through some personal trials. Indeed, in October of that same year, he checked himself into the Betty Ford Center to tackle his alcohol abuse problems. He had previously entered treatment for a cocaine problem in 1998.

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Devoted to her new husband, then, Kidman flew back from a promotional trip to offer Urban her full support. However, Urban said his demons weren’t easy to overcome. Speaking of his problems with alcohol, he told People magazine in 2007, “I was going to lose it all.”

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He continued, “You can choose life or you can go the other way… It’s not a matter of all the intricate stuff in between. It’s just life or no life.” He also spoke about how difficult it was for his spouse, saying, “It was very, very hard to have to have her go through that.” Ninety days after first arriving, Urban checked out of the rehab facility.

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On the road to recovery, Urban began to concentrate on family matters with Kidman. And on July 2008, the couple had a baby. Yes, the two lovebirds brought their first child together – a girl named Sunday Rose Kidman Urban – into the world.

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Then in 2010, they brought another addition into the family via a surrogate: Faith Margaret Kidman Urban. And perhaps Kidman’s not done just yet when it comes to children. The star told Elle in 2014, “My grandmother had her last at 49. Every month, I’m like, ‘I hope I’m pregnant!’”

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So after all of the ups and downs that have transpired during their ten-plus years together, rumors still abound about the state of their marriage. Indeed, the gossiping began again earlier in 2017 after Kidman gave her Big Little Lies co-star Alexander Skarsgård a kiss on the lips at the Emmy Awards.

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Some have speculated that her actions have caused a rift in the relationship, with one source coming forward to speak about Urban’s displeasure regarding the smooch. The person even told Woman’s Day that he felt she was “disrespecting and humiliating him.”

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However, Kidman later addressed the kiss when she appeared on The Graham Norton Show. She told the chat show host, “I’ve got an amazing, supportive, gorgeous husband who I love more than anything in the world, and I gave Alex a congratulatory kiss, and he’s like a mannequin.”

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And now, in a new twist to events, it seems that the two celebrities are ready to renew their marriage vows. The revelation comes by way of In Touch, which claims the pair are preparing to say their “I do’s” one more time.

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It’s certainly a big decision for the glamorous couple to make, but it’s one which an insider claims is vital for the both of them. The source told In Touch that Urban “has realized that he can’t live without Nicole and has asked her to renew their vows. Nicole thinks it’s a great idea.”

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Unlike their first ceremony, however, the source asserts that this time they want the event to be more muted. The pair “want to keep their special day as private as possible, so only their closest family and friends will be invited,” they said. “It’s going to be very low-key and very romantic.”

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As to where it will be taking place, the insider claims to know this, too. “They’re secretly organizing an intimate beach ceremony for this winter in Hawaii, where Nicole was born,” they said.

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The couple’s touching plan to renew their vows would certainly reaffirm their love for one another. And after years of rumors, it may also offer the perfect opportunity to quash any further tabloid speculation. Symbolically, too, the couple would appear to be leaving behind the problems of the past and moving forward into greener pastures.

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Together, though, they’ve empowered each other ever since they first met. Kidman told Vanity Fair in 2007, “I think we were two lonely people. I would probably say that two very lonely people managed to meet at a time when they could open themselves to each other. We were a mixture of frightened and brave.”

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But perhaps Urban put it best in his 2007 interview for People magazine. “She said early on that she wanted to be brave with me,” he stated. “I feel there was something else at work, bringing us together and then just continuing to watch over us.” Whatever it is, long may it continue to watch over them.

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