She was born in the poor community of Locust Ridge, Tennessee. One of 12 children. Started singing on a radio station at age 11. Moved to Nashville upon graduating from high school, and became a big star. All that sounds like a country song, doesn’t it? But it’s the early biography of Dolly Parton.
Dolly’s big break came at the age of 21 when Porter Wagoner wanted a female singer for his syndicated TV show. He chose Dolly, and it wasn’t long before her overwhelming talent made Wagoner look like the journeyman he was. Their partnership did have one long-lasting benefit: It inspired the number-one hit “I Will Always Love You,” which Dolly supposedly wrote for her former partner.
During her career, Dolly has achieved a lot of superlatives. She’s recorded 41 albums that made the top 10. And twenty-five of her songs have gone to number one, including “Jolene” (1973), “Here You Come Again” (1975), “9 to 5” (1980), and “But You Know I Love You” (1981).
Of course, the Dolly Parton success story goes beyond her singing. She’s an accomplished songwriter, and a surprisingly good actress. As a businesswoman she created Dollywood, one of America’s most popular theme parks. She co-owns a film production company that produced Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Father of the Bride movies, among others. And as a philanthropist, she’s donated millions of dollars, primarily to healthcare and literacy causes.
Dolly has won so many awards and honors that space here doesn’t permit a complete listing. The highlights: Seven Grammy Awards, two Academy Award and one Tony Award nomination, Kennedy Center Honors, CMA Entertainer of the Year, a member of four halls of fame, AND… she was the first individual to receive the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Seriously.