(CONTINUED FROM PAGE 41)
1964, as “special rare gifts.” She says: “They knew me before
I became a star. They still see me as me.”
After Parton and Dean married, they took in five of Dolly’s
younger brothers and sisters. The couple never had children
of their own, though not for lack of trying. “It wasn’t meant to
be,” Parton shrugs. “Me and Carl are each other’s children.”
Parton and Ogle, her personal assistant, have been best
friends since the third grade. “We’re absolutely, totally hon-
est, open, and comfortable with each other,” Parton says.
“We’ve been accused of being lovers. We do love each other,
but we’ve never been like that.” Ogle tours with Parton, since
Dean, retired from the construction business, stays home.
That, in part, is key to the longevity of their marriage.
“We’re not together enough to get on each other’s nerves,”
Parton jokes. In all seriousness, she adds, “Carl has always
been proud of me. As long as I don’t drag him into my work,
he’s fine and lets me do what I want to do.
“I know we’ll never divorce,” she says. “He always knows
I’m coming home.”
Trust Your Gut
In 1974 Dolly Parton parted ways with mentor Porter Wagoner, the country music performer who had introduced her
to a national television audience. She has never looked back,
and she has been a brilliant guardian of her career. (In fact,
Elvis Presley wanted to record “I Will Always Love You,”
which she wrote as a farewell to Wagoner, but Parton said
no when his manager demanded they share royalties. That
decision alone has made her millions.)
Parton says she inherited her savvy from her father, who
never had any formal education. “He had that good old com-
mon horse sense,” she says. “Daddy could look at a person
across the yard and tell if they were honest and sincere or a
crook. I’m like that, too.”
David Dotson, president of the Dollywood Foundation,
says his job interview with Parton consisted of a ten-minute
chat in the back of a van, followed by her pronouncement: “I
like you.” He’s been in the position for ten years now.
“Dolly is, in my opinion, canny about life and people,” says
Jane Fonda, who has stayed in touch with Parton since they
costarred in Nine to Five in 1980. “She is extremely smart.”
One recent example: Last year Parton spent roughly
$1 million to launch her own label, Dolly Records, when the
industry wasn’t willing to support her. “I thought, ‘It’s an
investment in myself,’” she says. “If it pays off, great. If not, I’ll
count it as a tax loss.” With the release of Backwoods Barbie,
Dolly Records recouped its start-up costs in three months.
“The music business is not what it used to be,” says
Parton. “After you reach a certain age, they think you’re over.
Well, I will never be over. I’ll be making records if I have to
sell them out of the trunk of my car. I’ve done that in the past,
and I’d do it again.” (CONTINUED ON PAGE 68)