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Who Is Dolly Parton’s Husband — And Why Doesn’t He Ever Appear In Public?


After more than 50 years of marriage, Dolly Parton’s husband is still a bit of a mystery to fans. He rarely appears in public and never accompanies Dolly to award shows, causing many to wonder, “Who is Dolly Parton’s husband and why do we never see him?” And, as it turns out, the answers to those questions are pretty simple.

Who is Dolly Parton’s husband?

The lucky man is named Carl Thomas Dean there seems to be even less chance of seeing him out in public than a getting glimpse of Dolly Parton without a wig.

Carl first met his future wife when he was 21 and she was 18. At the time, Dolly was at a laundromat washing her clothes. It was her first day living in Nashville when Carl stopped by and joked that she would get sunburned in her revealing outfit before accompanying Dolly back inside the building.

“My first thought was I’m gonna marry that girl,” Dean said on the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary in 2016. “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.”

And marry they did! Two years later, in 1966, Dolly and Carl tied the knot in a church in Ringgold, Georgia, with only the preacher, his wife, and Dolly’s mom in attendance. The two married in secret because they did not want the press to report the event.

“My mother made me a little white dress and a little bouquet,” Parton told CMT. “But I said, ‘I can’t get married in a courthouse because I’ll never feel married.’ So we found a little Baptist church in town, and went up to Pastor Don Duvall and said, ‘Would you marry us?’ We got pictures on the steps right outside the church.”

Why doesn’t Carl Dean ever appear in public?

It’s no secret that celebrities — especially those as famous as Dolly — live glamorous lives full of parties and paparazzi. But very early on, Carl told Dolly he wanted nothing to do with that lifestyle.

“Dolly, I want you to have everything you want, and I’m happy for you, but don’t you ever ask me to go to another one of them dang things again!” he is reported as saying.

And although Dolly probably misses having her husband around as she attends one award ceremony after another, she obviously loves him enough to listen to his wishes.

“You can’t be in each other’s face all the time,” Dolly told Taste of Country. “Actually, I think that has been the best formula for us, the fact that we appreciate each other when we are together. We don’t have to be together all the time.”

Even several of Dolly’s longtime band members admit to having never seen him at shows in a documentary called Here I Am, which you can find on Netflix.

One person who can attest to meeting the mysterious man? Dolly’s friend Jane Fonda, who got to know him while staying a night at their Nashville home. “Carl is very handsome,” Fonda says in the documentary. “And Carl cooked us breakfast — a very delicious breakfast, the first time I had fried green tomatoes. And I remember sitting at the breakfast table and I said, ‘Describe the first time that you saw Dolly.'”

He then apparently got “so worked up” while remembering the day he met his future wife that Fonda claims “he fell backwards in his chair.” Dolly has that effect on a lot of people!

With more than five decades under their collective belt, who are we to question their marriage. Obviously, they’ve found something that works for them! And just like that, all the mystery surrounding Carl Dean has disappeared.

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