How long has Dolly Parton been married? Relationship with Carl Thomas Dean explored as singer shares rare picture

Dolly Parton posted a rare photo with her husband, Carl Thomas Dean, on Thanksgiving (Image via Getty Images/Larsen and Talbert and Dolly Parton/Instagram)
Dolly Parton posted a rare photo with her husband, Carl Thomas Dean, on Thanksgiving (Image via Getty Images/Larsen and Talbert and Dolly Parton/Instagram)

On November 25, Dolly Parton shared a rare picture with her husband Carl Thomas Dean on Thanksgiving. The veteran country musician published a vintage photo to wish her fans the best for the festive season.

In the picture, the couple is seen exchanging smiles as they sit next to each other on a couch. Parton wore a black dress adorned with white frills while her husband donned a formal black suit.

Earlier this month, the I Will Always Love You hitmaker posted another old photograph of the pair. However, fans were quick to notice that Carl Thomas Dean’s outfit was humorously edited with a t-shirt from the new Dolly Vintage Collage Collection.

Dolly Parton and Carl Thomas Dean tied the knot in 1966. The pair have been married for over 55 years.

A look into Dolly Parton and Carl Thomas Dean’s relationship

Dolly Parton and Carl Thomas Dean has been married for 55 years (Image via Dolly Parton/Instagram)
Dolly Parton and Carl Thomas Dean has been married for 55 years (Image via Dolly Parton/Instagram)

Dolly Parton and Carl Thomas Dean have one of the longest marriages in the entertainment industry and are often considered a power couple. Despite spending nearly six decades together, the couple largely kept their relationship out of the public eye.

It was love at first sight for the couple when 18-year-old Parton met 21-year-old Dean for the first time outside the Wishy Washy Laundromat in Nashville. In a 2017 interview with The Guardian, the singer recalled how her husband struck up a conversation during their first meeting:

“I was walking down the street to the laundromat, and he stopped me. He said, ‘Hey, you’re going to get sunburned out here!’ Well, he had to say something.”

In another interview with The New York Times, Dolly Parton mentioned that although she refused to go out on a date with Dean after their first meeting, she invited him to her house while babysitting her nephew. Shortly after their initial meeting, Dean took her to meet his parents:

"He came up every day that week and we sat out on the porch. 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."

On May 30, 1966, the pair tied the knot after two years of courtship in a small wedding ceremony in Georgia. The 9 to 5 crooner told CMT that her record label asked her to delay the wedding because of her career commitments, but they failed to wait and secretly wed in the presence of Dolly Parton’s mother:

"It was just my mother and Carl and me. We went across the state line to Ringgold, Georgia. My mother made me a little white dress and a little bouquet and a little Bible. 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."

That same year, Dolly Parton won her first award for writing Put It Off Until Tomorrow at BMI’s ‘Song of the Year.’ The musician also made her red carpet debut with her husband at the event. However, it also became their last event together as Dean preferred to stay away from the limelight.


During a performance at Stuart Jam in 2011, the singer talked about the BMI event while speaking to fans:

"After the dinner, we walked back out, and they brought us our car — I don't even remember what we were driving then — and we got in it and headed for home. Carl turned to me and said, '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!'"

Last year, Dolly Parton spoke to ET about her husband’s choice on staying out of the spotlight to maintain privacy:

“He’s like, a quiet, reserved person and he figured if he ever got out there in that, he’d never get a minute’s peace and he’s right about that. He said, ‘I didn’t choose this world, I chose you, and you chose that world. But we can keep our lives separate and together.’ And we do and we have. We’ve been together 56 years, married 54.”

In 1969, Carl Thomas Dean made a surprise appearance on the album cover of Dolly Parton’s fourth studio album, My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy. In 1973, the Grammy winner released her hit number, Jolene.

Years later, she told NPR that the song was about a red-haired banker who had a crush on her husband back in the day:

"She got this terrible crush on my husband. And he just loved going to the bank because she paid him so much attention. It was kinda like a running joke between us — when I was saying, 'Hell, you're spending a lot of time at the bank. I don't believe we've got that kind of money.' So it's really an innocent song all around, but sounds like a dreadful one."

However, in another interview, Dolly Parton mentioned that the song's title was inspired by a little fan of the same name she met during one of her concerts. The multi-instrumentalist also wrote the 2012 song From Here to the Moon and Back as an ode to her husband and their love story.

Despite their 55 years of marriage, Dolly Parton and Carl Thomas Dean did not have any children. In a 2014 interview with Billboard, the musician opened up about their decision:

"Early on, when my husband and I were dating, and then when we got married, we just assumed we would have kids. We weren't doing anything to stop it. In fact, we thought maybe we would. We even had names if we did, but it didn't turn out that way. Now that Carl and I are older, we often say, "Aren't you glad we didn't have kids? Now we don't have kids to worry about."

More recently, the acclaimed record artist told Oprah Winfrey that the decision allowed the couple to have more freedom in life:

“I believe that I know what I’m supposed to, but you’ve got to make the sacrifice. Since I had no kids, and my husband was pretty independent, I had freedom. I think a big part of my whole success is the fact that I was free to work, and I didn’t have children, because I believe that God didn’t mean for me to have kids so everybody’s kids could be mine, so I could do things, like the Imagination Library.”

Dolly Parton and Dean decided to renew their vows for their 50th wedding anniversary. In May 2016, the longtime pair married for the second time. Parton told the Rolling Stones at the time:

"I got all dressed up in the most beautiful gown you've ever seen and dressed that husband of mine up. He looked like a handsome dude out of Hollywood. We had a few family and friends around. We didn't plan anything big at all because we didn't want any kind of strain, any kind of tension, any kind of commotion, so we planned it cleverly and carefully. We just had a simple little ceremony at our chapel at our place."

Carl Thomas Dean also released his first-ever official statement about the relationship during the occasion:

"My first thought was, 'I'm gonna marry that girl. 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."

That same year, Dolly Parton wrote the album Pure and Simple, featuring several love songs inspired by her relationship with her husband. In 2018, the musician jokingly revealed her husband has a crush on Jennifer Aniston.


Earlier this year, Dolly Parton recreated the look from her 1978 Playboy magazine cover for her husband’s birthday as it was his favorite photoshoot. In October 2021, the singer mentioned that the couple “doesn’t fight” and maintains a solid and healthy married relationship.

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Edited by Srijan Sen