Country queen Dolly Parton and her husband Carl Dean are one of the longest relationships in country music. The couple celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary in 2020. What's their key to success? Parton says that Carl loves her just the way she is and that's a solid foundation for any successful relationship.
"We've been together most of our lives," she tells People. "I always joke and laugh when people ask me what's the key to my long marriage and lasting love. I always say 'Stay gone!' and there's a lot of truth to that. I travel a lot, but we really enjoy each other when we're together and the little things we do."
Parton met Carl Thomas Dean when she was 18 at the Wishy Washy laundromat in Nashville, Tennessee. The year was 1964, and it was love at first sight. During their 50th Wedding Anniversary, Dean told ET that his first thought after seeing Dolly for the first time was that he wanted to marry her.
"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."
The two had a sweet courtship after that first day that was extremely low key, while Parton's music career was on the rise. To this day, the couple prefers to take date nights and local favorites instead of any hot spots that would lead to getting recognized.
"When I met my husband, he wanted to take me out to dinner. He pulled up to the drive-in window and got our food at McDonald's," she told People. "We know a few little places we can go without being bothered. He only likes to go places where he can be comfortable!"
Two years later they were married, despite protests from her record label that it would affect her music career. The "Jolene" singer was ready, and that's all that mattered. Her mother made a little white dress, and in front of just her mother and pastor, Don Duvall, and his wife, the couple said 'I do' in a little Baptist church in Georgia.
That same year, the couple went to an industry event for Parton's first big record, and it was the first and only time Dean went out in the spotlight. He decided to stay out of the music biz despite how happy he was for Dolly and her success. And honestly, it worked for the two of them. She was able to build her career the way she wanted to, and he was able to maintain the semblance of a normal life.
"He wants to be mostly around the house," Dolly told People in a 2015 interview. "He knows I'm just the opposite. I can't go enough places. I can't do enough things. He loves that. He's independent. He doesn't need me in his face, and it's the same with me."
For their 50th Anniversary, Dolly decided she wanted to have the wedding she never had when they were young, and they renewed their vows in a small ceremony at their home in Nashville. Though the couple never had children of their own, Parton is Godmother to Disney star and singer-songwriter, Miley Cyrus.
The singer continues to keep busy and most recently, has been hitting Hollywood by storm. She produced a Netflix original film, Dumplin' starring Jennifer Aniston and confirmed that there will be a reboot to her classic film, 9 to 5. More recently she released the new Netflix original series Dolly Parton's Heartstrings where each episode is based on one of her classic songs. Dean tends to steer clear of the limelight.
You really won't see him at red carpet events or concerts at Dolly's Dollywood theme park but we know he's his wife's biggest fan behind the scenes. Their love story continuing to inspire fans of all ages.
This article was originally published in 2019.