After more than 50 years of marriage, Dolly Parton’s husband is still a bit of a mystery to Dolly Parton fans. He rarely appears in public and never accompanies Dolly to award shows, causing fans 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?
Carl Dean, Dolly Parton’s husband, first met his future wife when he was 21 and she was 18. At the time, Dolly was at a laundromat washing her clothes when Carl stopped by and remarked 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.”
Watch Dolly Parton’s look change over the years.
Why does Dolly Parton’s husband never 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.
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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.”
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. Who knew we never saw the man simply because he doesn’t like a camera in his face all night? And really, who can blame him?
h/t Country Living
NEXT: Scroll through to learn more about Dolly Parton’s husband.
Dolly Parton Husband Collage
Dolly Parton's husband Carl Dean is her polar opposite--shy and mysterious. Click through the slideshow to find out what we DO know about the country legend's other half.
Dolly Parton Husband Tall
He's 6 feet tall, making him a full foot taller than her.
Dolly Parton Husband Road Repair
He owns a road repair company in Tennessee.
Dolly Parton Husband Poet
He's also a poet. Dolly has described his poems as "lovely and heartfelt."
Dolly Parton Husband Wedding
The first thing he ever said to her was, "Hey, you are going to get sunburned out here." They wed two years later.
Dolly Parton Husband Fishing
He also enjoys fishing. In the spirit of teamwork, Dolly cleans the fish he catches.
Dolly Parton Husband Jolene
He was the inspiration behind Dolly's hit song, "Jolene," about a mysterious redheaded woman who stole his attention temporarily. Sounds like Dolly won big time in the end!
Dolly Parton Husband Award
To date, he has only ever attended one of her award shows, the BMI dinner in 1966, where Dolly picked up her first songwriting award. And he's only seen her perform once or twice.
Dolly Parton Husband Dollywood
But he always goes to Dollywood anonymously once every year, just to check up on the business.
Dolly Parton Husband Travel
And he does like to travel with Dolly in their RV--as long as their vacations are short.
Dolly Parton Husband Kids
He once considered having children with Dolly, and they even decided on Carla as a name if it was a girl. But now, they're glad they didn't have any.
Dolly Parton Husband Humor
He has a very "warped" sense of humor, according to Dolly. No wonder he makes her laugh!