Who Is Dolly Parton’s Husband? He ‘Wouldn’t Trade The Last 50 Years For Nothin’
Tennessee’s Smoky Mountain Songbird is known to millions worldwide, but what about Dolly Parton’s husband? Her name is synonymous with country music, and she’s a global icon whose career spans over six decades. But while many are familiar with her kind heart, show-stopping looks, and impressive discography, most fans know very little about the man who’s been by her side through it all: Carl Dean.
Parton first arrived in Nashville in 1964, a wide-eyed 18-year-old from Locust Ridge, Tennessee, dreaming of making it big in the music industry. On her first day in the city, Parton crossed paths with Carl Dean outside a local laundromat. Dean, three years older than her, was instantly captivated by Parton.
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“I was at the laundromat, the Wishy‐Washy. I’d come to Nashville with dirty clothes. I was in such a hurry to get here—and after I’d put my clothes in the machine,” Parton told The New York Times in 1976. “I started walkin’ down the street…and this guy hollered at me, and I waved. Bein’ from the country, I spoke to everybody. And he came over and, well, it was Carl, my husband.” Dean would go on to be Parton’s first and only husband, remaining with the singer for nearly six decades—and counting!
Who is Dolly Parton’s Husband?
Dolly Parton has been married once. Her first and only husband is Carl Dean.
Carl Dean: 1966 to Present
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Carl Dean, a Nashville native and an asphalt businessman, has been Parton’s one and only husband since 1966. Unlike his famous wife, Dean has always preferred a life away from the limelight, standing as a quiet pillar of support behind Parton’s bustling career.
The pair’s seemingly random encounter at the laundromat was the beginning of a lifelong romance. Dean’s greeting marked the first interaction between the two, paving the way for a lifelong connection. “He came up every day that week and we set out on the porch,” Parton told The New York Times of their simple yet romantic courtship. “I wouldn’t even take him in the house. Then my aunt got a day off, and she could keep the kid and that was my first chance to go anywhere with Carl and he drove me straight to his folks’ house and introduced me to his mother and daddy. Cause he said he knew right the minute he saw me that that’s the one he wanted.”
Dean opened up about his initial feelings for Parton in a rare statement to Entertainment Tonight. “My first thought was ‘I’m gonna marry that girl,” he said. “My second thought was, ‘Lord she’s good lookin.’ And that was the day my life began. I wouldn’t trade the last 50 years for nothing on this earth.”
Early on, the pair would spend hours on the porch, sharing stories and dreams under the Nashville sky. Just two years after their chance meeting at the laundromat, Parton and Dean decided to tie the knot. They married on May 30, 1966, in a private ceremony held in Ringgold, Georgia. It was an intimate affair with only Parton’s mother and the pastor and his wife in attendance.
Their private wedding
The decision for a private ceremony was driven by concerns about media attention, as Parton’s music career was starting to take off. The couple wanted to keep the public’s prying eyes away from their relationship. They would continue to keep their time together as private as possible over the years, even through to today: Dolly Parton’s husband keeps to himself and cheers his wife on at home as her popularity continued to skyrocket.
The pair have been happily married ever since. Parton, in a 2015 interview with Parade, painted a picture of her husband as a good man with a great sense of humor, someone who relished her success without any hint of resentment. “I’m happy when I’m on stage, I’m happy when things are going great in the business, but I’m also very happy when I’m home with him and we do our little things together,” she said.
Dean has even influenced Parton’s music over the years. Their relationship has been a constant source of inspiration for Parton, especially in songs like the ballad “From Here to the Moon and Back” from Parton’s album Joyful Noise. In the lyrics, Parton pledges her unwavering love for Dean. Speaking to The Boot in 2012, Parton revealed that she wrote the song with Dean in mind. She wanted to create a “beautiful” love song that reflected how she truly felt about him.
“I picked my husband, who I love, and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll write some beautiful song about him,’” she admitted. “It was about my husband in the movie, played by Kris Kristofferson, so I thought in order to make it really real and really touching, I would write it about my real, true emotions about someone I really do love and have loved for more than half of my life.”
As of today, the couple’s love story continues to evolve. Even though they’ve chosen to live a private life away from the public eye, their enduring love story is one that’s stood the test of time. The title of “Dolly Parton’s husband” could have been a difficult one for some men to shoulder, but for Dean, it appears that’s all he’s ever aspired to be since he met the Backwoods Barbie.
Related: Dolly Parton’s Net Worth Includes $10M From This Song Alone
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