After decades of a news-making career, Dolly Parton turns 75 on Jan. 19, 2021. In honor of the legend's big birthday, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at Dolly's life in pictures. Keep reading to see the highlights from her life caught on camera…
Dolly Rebecca Parton (pictured at age 3 circa 1949) was born in a one-room cabin in Pittman Center, Tennessee, on Jan. 19, 1946. The future star — the fourth of 12 children born to a poor farmer and his wife — honed her musical skills at the church where her grandfather served as pastor.
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Dolly Parton posed for a portrait in Tennessee circa 1955. The following year, she made her television debut on "The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour" variety show.
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One super-sized happy family! Dolly Parton (standing upper right) posed with her parents and 10 of her 11 siblings on Christmas in 1960. (The 12th Parton child, Larry, passed away just four days after his birth in 1955.) Many of Dolly's siblings went on to have careers in entertainment, though some have done just fine away from the limelight.
Dolly Parton posed for a Sevier County High School yearbook photo in 1960, the year after she made her Grand Ole Opry debut with her uncle, Bill Owens, who was instrumental in kick-starting her career. It was the first time the singer met Johnny Cash, who introduced her that night.
In 1965, the same year she signed with Monument Records as a pop singer, Dolly Parton posed for a portrait in Nashville, where she moved to pursue her career after graduating from high school the previous year. When she first arrived in Music City, she signed almost immediately with Combine Publishing as a songwriter and began churning out hits for other artists. But singing pop music and writing country songs for other stars wasn't enough to satisfy the future star, who eventually convinced Monument Records to allow her to record her own country songs. In 1967, she released her debut studio album, "Hello, I'm Dolly."
In 1967, Porter Wagoner offered Dolly Parton a regular spot on his eponymous syndicated TV show. The duo, who went on to release several chart-topping duets, are pictured together on the set of "The Porter Wagoner Show," on which she appeared until the mid-'70s, circa 1967.
Dolly Parton and collaborator Porter Wagoner posed alongside Roy Clark and Merle Haggard during the Country Music Association Awards on Oct. 1, 1970. The duo — who collaborated so much during the late '60s and early '70s that he actually owned nearly half of the music publishing company that Dolly launched with her uncle — took home the award for vocal duo of the year that night. That same year, Dolly earned her first Grammy nomination for their duet "Just Someone I Used to Know." Also in 1970, Dolly scored her first hit single as a solo artist with her cover of Jimmie Rodgers' "Mule Skinner Blues," for which she earned her first Grammy nomination as a solo artist in 1971 — the same year she released "Joshua," her first No. 1 single as a solo artist.
Now with hits "Jolene" and "Coat of Many Colors" under her belt, Dolly Parton posed for a portrait circa 1974, the year she left Porter Wagoner's show and truly branched out on her own. Also that year, she released a song inspired by their relationship: "I Will Always Love You," which hit No. 1 on the country charts.
In 1976, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris joined Dolly Parton for a performance on her short-lived syndicated variety show, "Dolly!" The series spanned just 26 episodes over the course of a year.
Dolly Parton — along with "Lamb Chop's Play-Along" star Shari Lewis and singer-actor David Soul — met Queen Elizabeth II following a variety show in Glasgow during Her Majesty's Silver Jubilee tour of Scotland on May 17, 1977. A few months later, Queen Dolly released her 12th studio album as a solo artist, "Here You Come Again," which became her first album to sell more than a million copies.
Dolly Parton teamed up with Cher for the "I Got You Babe" singer's 1978 ABC special, "Cher… Special." Dolly earned her first Emmy nomination (for outstanding continuing or single performance by a supporting actress in variety or music) for her efforts.
Dolly Parton enthusiastically embraced President Jimmy Carter as his wife, Rosalynn Carter, looked on during an event celebrating country music at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 2, 1979. That same year, she won her first Grammy: best female country vocal performance for "Here You Come Again."
Dolly Parton made her feature-film debut as Doralee Rhodes alongside Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in 1980's "9 to 5." She earned three Golden Globe nominations for her work in the comedy: best actress in a comedy or musical film, best new female film star and best original song for the movie's eponymous anthem. She also earned her first Oscar nomination for best original song for the "9 to 5" track.
Music runs in the family: When Freida Parton wanted to record an album, she enlisted sisters Stella Parton and Dolly Parton to lend a hand (or voice). The trio recorded at Bearsville Studios in Hollywood on Jan. 15, 1981.
Dolly Parton's brother and frequent collaborator Floyd Parton was also on hand during the 1981 recording session at Bearsville Studios in Hollywood. He died on Dec. 6, 2018, following an unknown illness.
Dolly Parton starred as brothel madam Mona Stangley opposite Burt Reynolds as Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd in her second feature film, 1982's "The Best Little Wh***house in Texas." She earned her second Golden Globe nomination (best actress in a comedy or musical film) for her work in the musical comedy.
Dolly Parton's third feature film, 1984's "Rhinestone," didn't fare as well with critics as her first two efforts. The musical comedy, in which she starred opposite Sylvester Stallone as a country singer in a New York City nightclub tasked with transforming a cabbie into a honky tonk performer, racked up Razzie Award nominations including two for worst original song and one for worst original score. Dolly performed and produced all of the original music for the movie. Three of her siblings — Randy, Floyd and Stella Parton — also contributed to the soundtrack, which, it should be noted, also spawned two hit country singles. Indeed, it wasn't all bad for Dolly and Sly…
"Rhinestone" co-stars Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton were honored with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on June 14, 1984.
On Aug. 9, 1984, Dolly Parton and longtime friend and collaborator Kenny Rogers, who've performed together countless times over the years, dressed up as Santa and Mrs. Claus during a promotional photo shoot for their 1984 Christmas special, "Kenny & Dolly: A Christmas to Remember." That same year, they released the Chrismas album "Once Upon a Christmas."
Dolly Parton posed for a portrait with longtime pals and collaborators Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris in Los Angeles on March 12, 1987, the same month their No. 1 album "Trio" hit shelves. More than a decade later, they teamed up for another hit album: 199's "Trio II." Dolly also had success as part of another threesome: She, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette released the hit album "Honky Tonk Angels" in 1993.
Dolly Parton took another stab at headlining a variety show with ABC's "Dolly" in 1987. Though she hosted many of the world's biggest stars, her best guests were her very own parents. She caught up with them outside the one-room cabin where she grew up during a special Thanksgiving episode, on which most of her family appeared. Like its predecessor, the series proved to be short-lived: It lasted just 22 episodes over the course of one year.
On Oct. 24, 1988, Dolly Parton paid a visit to Dollywood, the theme park she launched two years earlier in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. In 2001, the resort — which is also the home of Dolly Parton's Stampede, a dinner theater experience in which members of the Parton family often perform — expanded to include a water park, Dollywood's Splash Country. A new section of the park, Wildwood Grove, is due to open in 2019.
Dolly Parton starred as beautician Truvy Jones in 1989's "Steel Magnolias," an adaptation of the 1987 play of the same name. The hit ensemble dramedy also stars Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Julia Roberts and Daryl Hannah. Julia won a Golden Globe and earned an Oscar nomination for her work in the film as Shelby, while Sally Field earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance as her mother, M'Lynn.
In 1992, Dolly Parton starred as a radio host in "Straight Talk," which was produced by Sandollar Productions, the production company she co-founded with her longtime former manager, Sandy Gallin. The company also produced the film "Father of the Bride" and "Sabrina," as well as the hit TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." She currently produces under her Dixie Pixie Productions banner.
Dolly Parton released her autobiography, "Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business," in 1994. She attended a book signing in Los Angeles that Nov. 28. Since then, she's released two children's books, a cookbook and an inspirational collection of life lessons, 2012's "Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You." She also released a collection of poetry back in 1979.
Dolly Parton celebrated the 10th anniversary of Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in 1995, the same year she launched her Imagination Library, a literacy program for underserved children, through her Dollywood Foundation. The Imagination Library has since expanded to several countries across the globe.
Dolly Parton performed during the 1999 Country Music Association Awards, during which she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, on Sept. 22.
Dolly Parton — who's written thousands of songs for herself and other artists over the years — was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame during its 32nd annual award ceremony in New York City on June 14, 2001.
Dolly Parton got up close and personal with a bald eagle during the opening of a bald eagle refuge exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., on July 2, 2003. The American Eagle Foundation, a rehabilitation program launched in 1995, is located at and sponsored by Dollywood.
Dolly Parton looked pretty in pink during the 78th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles on March 5, 2006. She was up for best original song for "Travelin' Thru" from the dramedy "Transamerica." In addition to her second Oscar nomination, the song also helped her earn her fifth Golden Globe nomination.
In 2006, Dolly Parton made her debut as Aunt Dolly on "Hannah Montana." She popped up on a handful of episodes of the Disney Channel series to support her real-life goddaughter, Miley Cyrus. Miley's dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, asked the country superstar to serve as his daughter's godmother after they toured together in 1992, the year Miley was born. Dolly collaborated with Brother Clyde, Billy Ray's country super-group, on their 2010 track "The Right Time" from their self-titled debut album, and she collaborated with her goddaughter on the song "Rainbowland" from Miley's 2017 "Younger Now" album.
Dolly Parton and fellow honorees Smokey Robinson, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Steven Spielberg and conductor Zubin Mehta posed with President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush during a reception for the 29th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 3, 2006.
Dolly Parton wrote the music and lyrics for "9 to 5: The Musical," which opened on Broadway in April 2009, and earned a Tony Award nomination for her efforts. Her sister, actress Rachel Dennison, joined her backstage following the performance at the Marquis Theatre in New York City on April 13, 2009. After "9 to 5" was a movie but before it was a Broadway musical, it was an ABC sitcom. Rachel actually starred as Doralee (the character Dolly played in the movie) on the show from 1982 to 1988.
Dolly Parton posed with her sister, singer-actress Stella Parton, at a special screening of "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors" in Los Angeles on Dec. 2, 2015. Stella had a role in the NBC made-for-TV movie based on the Parton clan's humble beginnings, which Dolly narrated and executive produced.
On Nov. 2, 2016, the Country Music Association honored Dolly Parton with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award during the 50th Annual CMA Awards at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.
"Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors" was such a huge hit, NBC ordered a Christmas-themed sequel: 2016's "Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love." The country superstar didn't just executive produce the second installment, which earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding television movie — she also appeared in it as The Painted Lady, a prostitute whom young Dolly (Alyvia Alyn Lind) befriends.
An extremely rare sighting! Dolly Parton and Carl Thomas Dean, whom she met when she was just 18 years old, tied the knot in Ringgold, Georgia, on May 30, 1966. But they're almost never seen together in public. The super-private pair, who renewed their wedding vows in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary in 2016, were spotted visiting the country singer's doctor in Beverly Hills on Jan. 4, 2017.
The ladies of "9 to 5" have reunited several times over the years. Most recently, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda met up to present an award during the 2017 Emmys on Sept. 17. That same month, the singer-actress released her 47th solo studio album: "I Believe in You," a children's album.
Dolly Parton joined Kenny Rogers onstage during his concert event "All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers' Farewell Concert Celebration" at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 25, 2017.
Dolly Parton read a copy of her "Coat of Many Colors" children's book — the 100 millionth book donated by her Imagination Library — to kids at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 27, 2018.
Dolly Parton sang as Linda Perry played guitar during a luncheon celebrating the Netflix comedy "Dumplin'" in Beverly Hills on Oct. 22, 2018. The duo collaborated on several new songs for the film's soundtrack, including "Girl in the Movies," for which they earned a Golden Globe nomination — Dolly's sixth overall.
Dolly Parton performed with her brother, singer-songwriter Randy Parton, and his daughter, Heidi Parton, at Dollywood's "Smoky Mountain Christmas" celebration in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, on Nov. 9, 2018. (Heidi, also a singer, released her debut album in late 2017.)
Dolly Parton proved she's still got it when she performed on "The Talk" on Dec. 7, 2018, wearing black curve-hugging leather pants and a floral-print jacket at 72!
The 2019 Grammys featured an iconic tribute to Dolly Parton. And instead of sitting back and watching other stars commemorate her biggest hits, Dolly graced the stage right along with them! The legend was joined by Kacey Musgraves, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Maren Morris and Little Big Town to sing her tunes "Here You Come Again," "Jolene," "After the Goldrush," "Red Shoes" and "9 to 5."
"9 to 5" the musical is back! The beloved stage show opened in London's West End in February 2019. To the audience's delight, Dolly Parton herself popped up on stage for a performance later that month.
In late 2018, it was announced that the country music legend was executive producing a new show called "Dolly Parton's Heartstrings" for Netflix. Each one of the eight hour-long episodes tells the story of one of her biggest hits, starting with "Jolene." The actresses who signed on for the project include Kathleen Turner, Melissa Leo, Ginnifer Goodwin, Julianne Hough and many more including Dolly herself, who's seen here at the series' premiere event in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, on Oct. 29, 2019.
In October 2019, Dolly Parton was honored after reaching her 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. NBC was on hand to record a TV special featuring major country music artists including Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, Toby Keith, Emmylou Harris, Hank Williams Jr. and more performing the icon's biggest hits. Dolly is seen here at a press conference in Nashville celebrating the event called "Dolly Parton: 50 Years at the Grand Ole Opry."
Just a month shy of her 75th birthday, Dolly Parton earned another accolade in December 2020: Goddaughter Miley Cyrus presented her with the Hitmaker Award, which "recognizes a songwriter whose compositions have impacted the culture in a crucial way," during the Billboard's annual Women In Music event in December 2020. The honor came months after Dolly donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center amid the coronavirus pandemic to help fund COVID-19 research. The center's Dr. Naji Abumrad — who forged a friendship with the music star after he treated her following a 2013 car crash — told The Washington Post that "her funding made research toward the [COVID-19] vaccine go 10 times faster than it would [have gone] without it."