Dolly Rebecca Parton (born January 19, 1946) is an American singer-songwriter, author, multi-instrumentalist, actress and philanthropist, best-known for her work in country music.
In the four-and-a-half decades since her national-chart d?but, she remains one of the most-successful female artists in the history of the country genre which achieved her the title of 'The Queen of Country Music', with twenty-five number-one singles, and a record forty-one top-10 country albums. She has the distinction of having performed on a top-five country hit in each of the last five decades and is the only artist to score a number-one country single in each of the past four decades.
She is known for her distinctive soprano, sometimes bawdy humor, flamboyant dress sense and voluptuous figure.
Dolly Parton was born in Sevierville, Tennessee, the fourth of twelve children born:
Willadeene Parton (a poet, b. 1940)
David Parton (b. 1942)
Denver Parton (b. 1943), who named his first daughter Dolly Christina Parton
Dolly Rebecca Parton
Robert Lee "Bobby" Parton Jr. (b. 1948)
Stella Parton (a singer, b. 1949)
Cassie Parton (a singer, b. 1951)
Randel Huston "Randy" Parton (a singer and businessman, b. 1953)
Larry Parton (b. 1955, d. 1955)
Floyd Parton (a singer-songwriter) and
Freida Parton (a singer) - twins (b. 1957)
Rachel Dennison (an actress, b. 1959)
Her family was, as she described them, "dirt poor". She described her family's shortness of money in her song "Coat of Many Colors" They lived in a rustic, dilapidated one-room cabin in Locust Ridge, Tennessee, a hamlet just north of the Greenbrier Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains of Sevier County, a predominantly Pentecostalist area.
Music formed a major part of her early church experience. She once told an interviewer that her grandfather was a Pentecostal "holy-roller" preacher. Today, when appearing in live concerts, she frequently performs spiritual songs.
Parton began performing as a child, singing on local radio and television programs in the East Tennessee area. By age nine, she was appearing on The Cas Walker Show on both WIVK Radio and WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee. At thirteen, she was recording on a small Louisiana label, Goldband Records, and appeared at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. It was at the Opry where she first met Johnny Cash who encouraged her to go where her heart took her, and not to care what others thought. The day after she graduated from high school in 1964, Parton moved to Nashville taking many traditional elements of folklore and popular music from East Tennessee with her.
Parton's initial success came as a songwriter, writing two top ten hits with her uncle Bill Owens, Bill Phillips's "Put it Off Until Tomorrow" and Skeeter Davis' 1967 hit "Fuel to the Flame". She also wrote a minor chart hit for Hank Williams Jr during this period. She had signed with Monument Records in late 1965, where she was initially pitched as a bubblegum pop singer, earning only one national-chart single, "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby," which did not crack the Billboard Hot 100.
The label agreed to have Parton sing country music after her composition, "Put It Off Until Tomorrow," as recorded by Bill Phillips (and with Parton, uncredited, on harmony), went to number six on the country-music charts in 1966. Her first country single, "Dumb Blonde" (one of the few songs during this era that she recorded but did not write), reached number twenty-four on the country-music charts in 1967, followed the same year with "Something Fishy," which went to number seventeen. The two songs anchored her first full-length album, Hello, I'm Dolly.
On May 30, 1966, she and Carl Thomas Dean were married in Ringgold, Georgia. She had met Dean at the Wishy-Washy Laundromat two years earlier on her first day in Nashville. His very first words to her were: "You're gonna get sunburnt out there, little lady."
Dean, who runs an asphalt road-surface-paving business in Nashville, has always shunned publicity and rarely accompanies her to any events. According to Parton, he has only ever seen her perform once. However, she has also commented in interviews that, although it appears they do not spend much time together, it is simply that nobody sees him. She has also commented on Dean's romantic side claiming that he will often do spontaneous things to surprise her, and sometimes even writes her poems.
The couple partly raised several of Parton's younger siblings at their home in Nashville, leading her nieces and nephews to refer to her as "Aunt Granny"; she has no children of her own.
The couple are also the sole guardians of a family friend?s son, whose parents died within two years of each other. Although keeping to the secretive nature of the family not much is known.
1967?1976: Country-music success
In 1967, Parton was asked to join the weekly country-music, syndicated-television program The Porter Wagoner Show, hosted by Porter Wagoner, replacing Norma Jean, one of the most popular country female vocalists at the time, who was newly married and semi-retiring.
Initially, Wagoner's audience was reluctant to warm to Parton and chanted for Norma Jean, but with Wagoner's assistance, she was accepted. Wagoner convinced his label, RCA Victor, to also sign Parton. The label decided to protect their investment by releasing her first single as a duet with Wagoner. The duo's first single, "The Last Thing on My Mind," reached the country Top Ten early in 1968, launching a six-year streak of virtually uninterrupted Top-Ten singles.
Parton's first solo single, "Just Because I'm a Woman", was released in the summer of 1968 and was a moderate hit, reaching number seventeen. For the remainder of the decade, none of her solo efforts ? even "In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)," which would later become a standard ? were as successful as her duets. The duo was named Vocal Group of the Year in 1968 by the Country Music Association, but Parton's solo records were continually ignored. Wagoner and Parton were both frustrated by her lack of solo success, because he had a significant financial stake in her future ? as of 1969, he was her co-producer and owned nearly half of the publishing company Owepar.
By 1970, both Parton and Wagoner had grown frustrated by her lack of solo chart success, and Porter had her sing Jimmie Rodgers' "Mule Skinner Blues," a gimmick that worked. The record shot to number three on the charts, followed closely by her first number-one single, "Joshua." For the next two years, she had a number of solo hits ? including her signature song "Coat of Many Colors" (number four, 1971) ? in addition to her duets. Though she had successful singles, none of them were blockbusters until "Jolene" reached number one in early 1974. Parton stopped traveling with Wagoner after its release, yet she continued to appear on television and sing duets with him until 1976.
She stayed with the Wagoner Show and continued to record duets with him for seven years, then made a break to become a solo artist. In 1974, her song, "I Will Always Love You" (written about her professional break from Wagoner), was released and went to number one on the country-music charts. Around the same time, Elvis Presley indicated that he wanted to cover the song. Parton was interested until Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, told her that she would have to sign over half of the publishing rights if Presley recorded the song (as was the standard procedure for songs he recorded). Parton refused and that decision is credited with helping to make her many millions of dollars in royalties from the song over the years. It was decisions like these, in fact, that caused her to be called "The Iron Butterfly" in show-business circles. She also claims to have made enough from Whitney Houston's cover version of this song to "buy Graceland", Presley's mansion.
1977?1986: Branching out into pop music
From 1974 to 1980, she consistently charted in the country Top 10, with no fewer than eight singles reaching number one. Parton had her own syndicated-television variety show, Dolly! (1976?1977), and by 1977 had gained the right to produce her own albums, which immediately resulted in diverse efforts like 1977's New Harvest ... First Gathering. In addition to her own hits during the late 1970s, many artists, from Rose Maddox and Kitty Wells to Olivia Newton-John, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt, covered her songs, and her siblings Randy and Stella had recording contracts of their own.
Parton later had commercial success as a pop singer, as well as an actress. Her 1977 album, Here You Come Again, was her first million-seller, and its title track ("Here You Come Again") became her first top-ten single on the pop charts (reaching number three); many of her subsequent singles charted on both pop and country charts, simultaneously. Her albums during this period were developed specifically for pop-crossover success.
In 1978, Parton won a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her Here You Come Again album. Following that title track's success, she had further pop hits with "Two Doors Down", "Heartbreaker" (both 1978), "Baby I'm Burning" and "You're the Only One" (both 1979), all of which charted in the pop singles Top 40, and all of which also topped the country-singles chart. On April 3, 1978, Parton performed with Cher on television in Cher... Special in the "Musical Battle to Save Cher's Soul Medley". Parton was dressed in white and, with a team of brightly clad singers, portrayed an angelic host while punk band The Tubes, dressed in black leather and performing "Mondo Bondage", battled to send Cher's soul into eternal damnation.
Parton's commercial success continued to grow during 1980, with three number-one hits in a row: the Donna Summer-written "Starting Over Again," "Old Flames Can't Hold a Candle to You", and "9 to 5."
With less time to spend songwriting as she focused on a burgeoning film career, during the early 1980s Parton recorded a larger percentage of material from noted pop songwriters, such as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Rupert Holmes, Gary Portnoy and Carole Bayer Sager.
Parton in Honolulu, Hawaii, 1983.
"9 to 5", the theme song to the feature film Nine to Five (1980) Parton starred in along with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, not only reached number one on the country charts, but also number one on the pop and the adult-contemporary charts, giving her a triple-number-one hit. Parton became one of the few female country singers to have a number-one single on the country and pop charts simultaneously. It also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.
Parton's singles continued to appear consistently in the country Top 10: between 1981 and 1985, she had 12 Top 10 hits; half of those were number-one singles. Parton continued to make inroads on the pop charts as well with a re-recorded version of "I Will Always Love You" from the feature film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) scraping the Top 50 that year and her duet with Kenny Rogers, "Islands in the Stream" (written by the Bee Gees and produced by Barry Gibb), spent two weeks at number one in 1983.
However, by 1985 many old-time fans felt that Parton was spending too much time courting the mainstream. Most of her albums were dominated by the adult-contemporary pop songs like "Islands in the Stream," and it had been years since she had sung straightforward country. She also continued to explore new business and entertainment ventures such as her Dollywood theme park, that opened in 1986 in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Her record sales were still relatively strong, however, with "Save the Last Dance for Me", "Tennessee Homesick Blues" (both 1984); "Real Love" (another duet with Kenny Rogers), "Don't Call it Love" (both 1985); and "Think About Love" (1986) all reaching the country-singles Top 10. ("Tennessee Homesick Blues" and "Think About Love" reached number one. "Real Love" also reached number one on the country-singles chart and also became a modest pop-crossover hit). However, RCA Records didn't renew her contract after it expired that year, and she signed with CBS Records in 1987.
1987?1994: Return to country roots
Along with Harris and Ronstadt, she released the decade-in-the-making Trio (1987) to critical acclaim. The album strongly revitalized Parton's temporarily stalled music career, spending five weeks at number one on Billboard's Country Albums chart, selling several million copies and producing four Top 10 country hits including Phil Spector's "To Know Him Is to Love Him", which went to number one. Trio won the Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. In 1987, she revived her television variety show, Dolly
White Limozeen (1989) produced two number-one hits in "Why'd You Come in Here Lookin' Like That" and "Yellow Roses." Although it looked like Parton's career had been revived, it was actually just a brief revival before contemporary country music came in the early 1990s and moved all veteran artists out of the charts.
A duet with Ricky Van Shelton, "Rockin' Years" (1991) reached number one but Parton's greatest commercial fortune of the decade came when Houston recorded "I Will Always Love You" for the soundtrack of the feature film The Bodyguard (1992); both the single and the album were massively successful.
She recorded "The Day I Fall In Love" as a duet with James Ingram for the feature film Beethoven's 2nd (1993). The songwriters (Sager, Ingram, and Clif Mangess) were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song and Parton and Ingram performed the song on the awards telecast.
Similar to her earlier collabrative album with Harris and Ronstadt, Parton recorded Honky Tonk Angels (1994) with Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. It was certified a Gold Album by the Recording Industry Association of America and helped revive both Wynette's and Lynn's careers.
Since 1995: career today
In 1995 Parton re-recorded "I Will Always Love You" as a duet with Vince Gill on her album Something Special for which they won the Country Music Association's Vocal Event of the Year Award.
A second and more-contemporary collaboration with Harris and Ronstadt, Trio II (1999), was released and its cover of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" won a Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals. Parton was also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999.
She recorded a series of critically acclaimed bluegrass albums, beginning with The Grass Is Blue (1999), winning a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album, and Little Sparrow (2001), with its cover of Collective Soul's "Shine" winning a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. The third, Halos & Horns (2002) included a bluegrass version of the Led Zeppelin classic "Stairway to Heaven".
Parton released Those Were The Days (2005), her interpretation of hits from the folk-rock era of the late 1960s through the early 1970s. It featured such classics as John Lennon's "Imagine", Cat Stevens's "Where Do the Children Play?", Tommy James's "Crimson and Clover", and Pete Seeger's anti-war song "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?".
Parton earned her second Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song for "Travelin' Thru", which she wrote specifically for the feature film Transamerica (2005). Because of the song's nature of accepting a transgender woman without judgment, Parton received death threats. She also returned to number one on the country charts later in 2005 by lending her distinctive harmonies to the Brad Paisley ballad, "When I Get Where I'm Goin'".
In September 2007, Parton released her first single from her own record company, Dolly Records entitled, "Better Get to Livin'", which eventually peaked at number forty-eight on the Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.
Her latest album, Backwoods Barbie, released February 26, 2008, reached number two on the country charts. The album's d?but at number seventeen on the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart has been the highest in her career. The title track and video was released in February 2009. The title song was written as part of her score for 9 to 5: The Musical, an adaptation of her feature film Nine to Five.
After the sudden death of Michael Jackson, whom Parton knew personally, she released a video in which she somberly told of her feelings on Jackson and his death.
She is set to release her second live DVD and album, Live From London in October 2009 which was filmed during her sold out 2008 concerts at London's 02 Arena.
Parton is currently working a dance album Dance with Dolly of which she has said should be released very soon, as well as a 4-CD box set Dolly which will feature 99 songs and spans most of her career. It is to be released October 27 in America.
In concert and on tour
Parton toured extensively from the late 1960s until the early 1990s. In 2002 she returned to the concert stage; she later went on the Backwoods Barbie Tour in 2008 promoting Backwoods Barbie.
Dollywood Foundation Shows
From the early 1990s through 2001, her concert appearances were primarily limited to one weekend a year at Dollywood to benefit her Dollywood Foundation. The concerts normally followed a theme (similar to a Legends in Concert or, for example, a "fifties-music"-tribute concert). They have also included holiday shows during the Christmas season.
Halos & Horns Tour
Main article: Halos & Horns Tour
After a decade-long absence from touring, Parton decided to return in 2002 with the Halos & Horns Tour, an 18-city, intimate-club tour to promote Halos & Horns (2002). House of Blues Entertainment, Inc. produced the tour and it sold out all its U.S. and European dates (her first in two decades).
Hello, I'm Dolly Tour
Main article: Hello, I'm Dolly Tour
She returned to mid-sized-stadium venues in 2004 with her 36-city, U.S. and Canadian Hello, I'm Dolly Tour, a glitzier, more-elaborate stage show than two years earlier. With nearly 140,000 tickets sold, it was the tenth-biggest country tour of the year and grossed more than $6 million.
The Vintage Tour
Main article: The Vintage Tour
In late 2005 Parton completed a 40-city tour with The Vintage Tour promoting her new Those Were the Days (2005).
European Tour 2007
Main article: European Tour 2007
Parton scheduled mini concerts in late 2006 throughout the U.S. and Canada as a gear-up to her 17-city, 21-date European Tour 2007. Running from March 6?April 3, 2007, this was her first world tour in many years and her first tour in the United Kingdom since 2002.
The European Tour 2007 sold out in every European city and gained mostly positive reviews. It took grossed just over $16 million. The most-noted feature of the shows was that very few in attendance, despite Parton being 60, had ever seen her in concert. This, coupled with Parton's European popularity, led to a very well-received reception when she took the stage.
Backwoods Barbie Tour
Main article: Backwoods Barbie Tour
In 2008 Parton went on the Backwoods Barbie Tour. It was set to begin in the U.S. (February-April 2008) to coincide with the release of Backwoods Barbie (2008), her first mainstream-country album in 17 years. However, because of back problems she postponed all U.S. dates. The tour started March 28, 2008, with 13 U.S. dates, followed by 17 European shows.
She returned to the U.S. with a concert at Humphrey's By The Bay in San Diego, California, on August 1, 2008. She performed her Backwoods Barbie Tour on August 3, 2008, at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California, to a sold-out crowd and standing ovations. From August 1 to November 1, she has scheduled 16 dates on both the east and west coasts of the U.S.
Parton is a hugely successful songwriter, having begun by writing country-music songs with strong elements of folk music, based upon her upbringing in humble mountain surroundings, and reflecting her family's evangelical-Christian background. Her songs "Coat of Many Colors", "I Will Always Love You" and "Jolene" have become classics in the field, as have a number of others. As a songwriter, she is also regarded as one of country music's most-gifted storytellers, with many of her narrative songs based on persons and events from her childhood. Parton has listed almost 600 songs with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) to date and has earned 37 BMI awards for her material. In 2001, she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In a 2009 interview with CNN's Larry King Live, Parton indicated that she had written "at least 3,000" songs, having written seriously since the age of seven. Parton went on to say that she writes something every day, be it a song or an idea.
Compositions in films and television and covers
Parton's songwriting has been featured prominently in several films.
In addition to the title song for Nine to Five (1980), she also recorded a second version of "I Will Always Love You" for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982); the second version proved to be another number-one country hit and also managed to reach the pop charts going to number 53 in the U.S.
"I Will Always Love You" has been covered by many country artists, including Ronstadt, on Prisoner In Disguise (1975); Kenny Rogers, on Vote for Love (1996); and LeAnn Rimes, on Unchained Melody: The Early Years (1997). Whitney Houston performed it on The Bodyguard (1992) film soundtrack and her version became the best-selling hit ever both written and performed by a female vocalist, with worldwide sales of over twelve million copies.
As a songwriter, Parton has twice been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, for "9 to 5" (1980) and "Travelin' Thru" (2005). "Travelin' Thru" did win as Best Original Song award at the Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards (2005). The song was also nominated for both the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song (2005) and the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award (also known as the Critics' Choice Awards) for Best Song (2005).
A cover version of "Love Is Like A Butterfly", recorded by singer Clare Torry, was used as the theme music for the British TV show Butterflies.
American Idol appearance
The music-competition, reality-television show American Idol (since 2002) has weekly themes and the April 1?2, 2008, episodes' theme was "Dolly Parton Songs" with the nine then-remaining contestants each singing a Parton composition. Parton participated as a "guest mentor" to the contestants and also performed "Jesus and Gravity" (from Backwoods Barbie and released as a single in March 2008) receiving a standing ovation from the studio audience.
9 to 5: The Musical
Main article: 9 to 5: The Musical
Parton wrote the score (and Patricia Resnick wrote the book) for 9 to 5: The Musical, a musical-theatre adaptation of Parton's feature film Nine to Five (1980). The musical ran at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, California, in Fall 2008.
It opened on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre in New York City, New York, on April 30, 2009, to mixed reviews. The title track of her Backwoods Barbie (2008), was written for the musical's character Doralee.
Developing the musical was not an overnight process. According to a broadcast of the public-radio program Studio 360 (October 29, 2005), in October 2005 Parton was in the midst of composing the songs for a Broadway musical-theatre adaptation of the film. In late June 2007, 9 to 5: the Musical was read for industry presentations. The readings starred Megan Hilty, Allison Janney, Stephanie J. Block, Bebe Neuwirth and Marc Kudisch.
Parton plays the autoharp, banjo, drums, dulcimer, fiddle, guitar, harmonica, pennywhistle and piano. She began composing songs at the age of four, her mother often writing down the music as she heard Parton singing around the house. Parton often describes her talent as having "the gift of rhyme".
During the mid-1970s, Parton wanted to expand her audience base. Although her first attempt, the television variety show Dolly! (1976?1977), had high ratings it lasted only one season, with Parton requesting to be released from her contract because of the stress it was causing her vocal cords. (She later tried a second television variety show, also entitled Dolly (1987?1988); it also lasted only one season.)
In her first feature film she portrayed a secretary in a co-starring role with Fonda and Tomlin in Nine to Five (1980). Parton received Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress ? Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and New Star Of The Year ? Actress.
She also wrote and recorded the biggest solo hit of her career with the film's title song. It received a nomination for Academy Award for Best Song along with a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Song. Released as a single, the song won two Grammy Awards: Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song. The song also reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and in was placed number 78 on the American Film Institute's "100 Years... 100 Songs" list released in 2004. Parton was also named Top Female Box Office Star by the Motion Picture Herald in both 1981 and 1982.
Parton's second film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), earned her a second Golden Globe nomination for Golden Globe Award for Best Actress ? Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
She followed with Rhinestone (1984), co-starring Sylvester Stallone, and Steel Magnolias (1989), with an ensemble cast.
The last leading role for Parton was portraying a plainspoken radio-program host (with listeners telephoning in to share their problems) in Straight Talk (1992), opposite James Woods.
She played an overprotective mother in Frank McKlusky, C.I. (2002) with Dave Sheridan, Cameron Richardson and Randy Quaid.
Parton played herself in a cameo appearance in The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) (an adaptation of the long-running television situation comedy of the same name) and also in Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005) (the sequel to Sandra Bullock's earlier Miss Congeniality (2000)).
She was featured in The Book Lady (2008) a documentary about her campaign for children?s literacy and she was expecting to repeat her television role as Hannah's godmother in Hannah Montana: The Movie (2008) but the character was omitted from the final screenplay.
In addition to her performing appearances on the Wagoner Show in the 1960s and into the 1970s; her two self-titled television variety shows in the 1970s and 1980s; and on American Idol in 2001 and other guest appearances, Parton has also acted in television roles. In 1979 she received an Emmy award nomination as "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Variety Program" for her guest appearance in a Cher special.
She starred in the television movie Smoky Mountain Christmas (1986); Unlikely Angel (1996), portraying an angel sent back to earth following a deadly car crash; and Blue Valley Songbird (1999), where her character lives through her music.
Parton has also done voice work for animation for television series, playing herself in the Alvin & the Chipmunks (episode "Urban Chipmunk", 1983) and the character Katrina Eloise "Murph" Murphy in The Magic School Bus (episode "The Family Holiday Special", 1994).
Dolly guest starred on an episode of Designing Women (episode "The First Day of the Last Decade of the Entire Twentieth Century") as herself, the guardian movie star of Charlene's baby. She also appeared in the situation comedy series Reba (episode "Reba's Rules of Real Estate") portraying a real-estate agency owner, and on The Simpsons (episode "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday", 1999).
She also made cameo appearances on the Disney Channel as "Aunt Dolly" visiting Hannah and her family in the fellow Tennessean Miley Cyrus's series Hannah Montana (episodes "Good Golly, Miss Dolly", 2006, and "I Will Always Loathe You", 2007). The role came about because of her real-life relationship as Cyrus's godmother.
Parton's net worth has been estimated at between $520 and $600 million, making her one of the wealthiest female entertainers in the world. In 1998, Nashville Business ranked her as the wealthiest country-music star.
The Dollywood Company
Parton invested much of her earnings into business ventures in her native East Tennessee, notably Pigeon Forge. She is a co-owner of The Dollywood Company, which operates the theme park Dollywood (a former Silver Dollar City), a dinner theatre, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, and the waterpark, Dollywood's Splash Country, all in Pigeon Forge.
Dollywood is ranked as the 24th-most-popular theme park in the U.S., with about three million visitors annually. The area is a thriving tourist attraction, drawing visitors from large parts of the Southeastern and Midwestern U.S. This region of the U.S., like most areas of Appalachia, had suffered economically for decades; Parton's business investment has helped revitalize the area.
The Dixie Stampede business also has venues in Branson, Missouri, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A former Dixie Stampede location in Orlando, Florida closed in January 2008 after the business's land and building were sold to a developer.
Film and television production company
Parton is a co-owner of Sandollar Productions with Sandy Gallin, her former manager. A film-and-television-production company, it produced the Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989) which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Feature); the television series Babes (1990?1991) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997?2003); and the feature films Father of the Bride (1991), Father of the Bride: Part II (1995) Straight Talk (1992) (in which Parton also starred), Sabrina (1995), among other shows.
Briefly from 1987, Parton owned Dockside Plantation, a restaurant in the upscale neighborhood of Hawaii Kai in Honolulu, Hawaii. She also had a "signature line" of wigs from Revlon in the early 1990s. The best-selling style, "Dolly's Own", is still sold by Revlon, albeit under a new style name.
Since the mid-1980s Parton has supported many charitable efforts, particularly in the area of literacy, primarily through her Dollywood Foundation.
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library
Her literacy program, "Dolly Parton's Imagination Library", a part of the Dollywood Foundation, mails one book per month to each enrolled child from the time of their birth until they enter kindergarten. It began in Sevier County but has now been replicated in 566 counties across thirty-six U.S. states (as well as in Canada). In December 2007 it expanded to Europe with the South Yorkshire town of Rotherham, United Kingdom, being the first British locality to receive the books.
The program distributes more than 2.5 million free books to children annually.
In 2006 Parton published a cookbook Dolly's Dixie Fixin's: Love, Laughter and Lots of Good Food. The net profits support the Dollywood Foundation.
Dollywood has also been noted for bringing jobs and tax revenues to a previously depressed region.
She has also worked to raise money on behalf of several other causes, including the American Red Cross and a number of HIV/AIDS-related charities.
In December 2006, Parton pledged $500,000 toward a proposed $90-million hospital and cancer center to be constructed in Sevierville in the name of Dr. Robert F. Thomas, the physician who delivered her; she also announced plans for a benefit concert to raise additional funds for the project. The concert went ahead playing to about 8,000 people.
In May 2009, Dolly gave the Graduating Commencement Address at the University of Tennessee. Her speech was about her life lessons, and she encouraged the graduates to never stop dreaming.
Awards and honors
Parton is one of the most-honored female country performers of all time. The Record Industry Association of America has certified 25 of her single or album releases as either Gold Record, Platinum Record or Multi-Platinum Record. She has had 26 songs reach number one on the Billboard country charts, a record for a female artist. She has 42 career-top-10 country albums, a record for any artist, and 110 career-charted singles over the past 40 years. All inclusive sales of singles, albums, hits collections, paid digital downloads and compilation usage during Parton's career have reportedly topped 100 million records around the world.
Parton during a reception for The Kennedy Center honorees in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on December 3, 2006.
She has received seven Grammy Awards and a total of 42 Grammy Award nominations. At the American Music Awards she has won three awards, but has received 18 nominations. At the Country Music Association, she has received 10 awards and 42 nominations. At the Academy of Country Music, she has won seven awards and 39 nominations. She is one of only five female artists (including Reba McEntire, Barbara Mandrell, Shania Twain and Loretta Lynn), to win the Country Music Association's highest honor, Entertainer of the Year (1978). She has also been nominated for two Academy Awards and a Tony Award.
She was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording in 1984, located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California; a star on the Nashville Star Walk for Grammy winners; and a bronze sculpture on the courthouse lawn in Sevierville. She has called that statue of herself in her hometown "the greatest honor," because it came from the people who knew her.
Parton was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1969, and in 1986 was named one of Ms. Magazine's Women of the Year. In 1986, Parton was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1999, Parton received country music's highest honor, an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She received an honorary doctorate degree from Carson-Newman College (Jefferson City, Tennessee) in 1990. This was followed by induction into the National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2002, Parton ranked number four in CMT's 40 Greatest Women of Country Music.
She was honored in 2003 with a tribute album called Just Because I'm a Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton. The artists who recorded versions of Parton's songs included Melissa Etheridge ("I Will Always Love You"), Alison Krauss ("9 to 5"), Twain ("Coat of Many Colors"), Me'Shell Ndeg?Ocello ("Two Doors Down"), Norah Jones ("The Grass is Blue"), and Sin?ad O'Connor ("Dagger Through the Heart"); Parton herself contributed a rerecording of the title song, originally the title song for her first RCA album in 1968. Parton was awarded the Living Legend Medal by the U.S. Library of Congress on April 14, 2004, for her contributions to the cultural heritage of the United States.
This was followed in 2005 with the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor given by the U.S. government for excellence in the arts and is presented by the U.S. President.
On December 3, 2006, Parton received the Kennedy Center Honors from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for her lifetime of contributions to the arts. Other 2006 honorees included Zubin Mehta, Steven Spielberg, Smokey Robinson and Andrew Lloyd Webber. During the show, some of country music's biggest names came to show their admiration. Carrie Underwood performed Parton's hit "Islands in the Stream" with Rogers, Parton's original duet partner. Krauss performed "Jolene" and duetted "Coat of Many Colors" with Twain. McEntire and Reese Witherspoon also came to pay tribute.
In 2003, her efforts to preserve the bald eagle through the American Eagle Foundation's sanctuary at Dollywood earned her the Partnership Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Parton received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution at a ceremony in Nashville on November 8, 2007.
For her work in literacy, Parton has received various awards including:
Association of American Publishers - AAP Honors Award (2000)
Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval (2001) (the first time the seal had been awarded to a person)
American Association of School Administrators - Galaxy Award (2002)
National State Teachers of the Year - Chasing Rainbows Award (2002)
Parents as Teachers National Center - Child and Family Advocacy Award (2003)
On May 8, 2009, Parton gave the commencement speech at the commencement ceremony in Knoxville, Tennessee, for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville's College of Arts and Sciences. During the ceremony she received an honorary degree, a doctorate of humane and musical letters, from the university. It was only the second honorary degree to be given by the university and in presenting the degree, the university's chancellor, Jimmy G. Cheek, said, "Because of her career not just as a musician and entertainer, but for her role as a cultural ambassador, philanthropist and lifelong advocate for education, it is fitting that she be honored with an honorary degree from the flagship educational institution of her home state."
Parton has turned down several offers to pose for Playboy magazine's similar publications, although she did appear on the cover of Playboy's October 1978 issue wearing a Playboy bunny outfit, complete with ears. Breast-obsessed filmmaker Russ Meyer wanted to make movies about her 40DD breasts. The association of breasts with Parton's public image is illustrated in the naming of Dolly the sheep after her, since the sheep was cloned from a cell taken from an adult ewe's mammary gland.
On a 2003 broadcast of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Winfrey asked what kind of cosmetic surgery Parton had undergone. Parton stated that she felt that cosmetic surgery was imperative in keeping with her famous image, but jokingly admitted, "If I have one more facelift, I'll have a beard!" Parton has repeatedly joked about her physical image and surgeries, saying, "If I see something sagging, bagging, and dragging, I?m going to nip it, tuck it, and suck it. Why should I look like an old barn yard dog if I don't have to!" and "It takes a lot of money to look this cheap." Her size 40DD breasts also got her into several songs in the 1980s and 1990s, including "Dolly Parton's Hits" by Bobby Braddock, "Talk Like Sex" by Kool G Rap and DJ Polo, and "Dolly Parton's Tits" by MacLean & MacLean.
Press agent Lee Solters represented Parton and would say he knew her "since she was flat-chested".