Dolly Parton shared a cabin with 11 siblings and couldn’t even bathe on a regular basis.
Her father was illiterate, yet he nevertheless supported her and her family.
She has stayed modest and contributes millions of dollars each year.
Despite her enormous popularity and money, Dolly Parton has stayed modest throughout her outstanding career as a performer, businesswoman, and philanthropist. It’s no wonder that success has followed her wherever she’s gone.
Parton knows the hardships of poverty because she grew raised in a large household. She is now a powerful Hollywood celebrity, but despite her success, she has never forgotten her modest roots.
Dolly Rebecca Parton, whose real name is Dolly Rebecca Parton, was born on January 19, 1946, on Locust Ridge in Sevierville, Tennessee. Her birth took place in a one-bedroom cottage. She had eleven siblings.
Her father, Robert Lee Parton, was a sharecropper who could not read and supplemented his income by working in construction. Due to a lack of educational opportunities, he was unable to read or write.
Growing up in a musically inclined household, the country icon was constantly surrounded by music. Despite their challenging living conditions, they discovered joy and connection through singing.
Avie Lee Owens, Parton’s mother, was a performer who taught her daughter how to sing. She sang church songs and Elizabethan ballads that had been passed down through her family for centuries to her daughter.
Meanwhile, Jacob Robert Owens, Parton’s grandpa, was a clergyman and the author of the song “Singing His Praise.” Some of Parton’s siblings became musicians, and several joined her family band.
Parton also had an uncle named Sam Owens, who was also a musician and singer-songwriter. Her uncle liked music and was the first to discover when she was a youngster that she had the potential to become a great musician.
einsteineruploading up to get together with. Robert died in 2021 from cancer, while Larry died as a newborn.
Parton, the fourth eldest of 12 siblings, regularly assisted her parents in caring for the younger children. She shared a little house with her family.
The wood cottage had just one bedroom and one living room at the time, and there was no running water or electricity. The property is still standing today.
Parton has always been candid about her poor roots and how they shaped her outlook on life. She comes from a large family with few finances, so she understands the difficulties of poverty.
Parton recalled her background in the mountains of rural Tennessee in an interview with The Guardian in 2016. She concentrated on the early recollections that gave her the greatest delight. She stated:
“Of course, not everything was perfect, but I’d rather recall the good moments.”
She recalled spending time with her siblings, singing at church, and doing duties she didn’t particularly enjoy. She also recalled the many hours she spent laughing with her family.
Parton said that her brothers and sisters were always singing and that she would always attempt to convince them to be her backup singers on stage when she pretended to be the lead vocalist, but they were absolutely uninterested.
Parton remembered that their little house was often crammed with her brothers, resulting in a lot of mocking and arguing. Regardless all the turbulence, they always remained a family.
She went on to say that they spent a lot of time outside because the cabin was too tiny for her and her siblings to be comfortable. The outside area was used as an extension for eating, entertaining, and playing games.
Parton stated that her family was thankful for food and a roof over their heads. It wasn’t exactly what they wanted, but her parents soon pointed out that other families had endured far more than they had. She remembered:
“We were impoverished, but I was never poor.”
Parton’s enthusiasm and musical aptitude would eventually lead her to become one of the most popular and adored country music performers of all time, despite her family’s humble beginnings.
Childhood in Poverty
Parton explained that, while she had happy recollections of her upbringing, growing up in poverty means living in difficult circumstances. She shared a hut with her 14-member family. They have little access to basic amenities like bathing facilities.
She told writer Lawrence Grobel in a March 1978 Playboy magazine interview that she was only eight years old when she first saw a toilet and bathroom in her aunt’s home and was attracted by them.
Parton added that she and her brothers were terrified to use the toilet because they thought it would suck them in, which made her laugh at how dumb and uneducated they were at the time. “That was just incredibly strange,” she said.
Bathing every day was not something Parton and her family could afford. They frequently made their own soap and would occasionally get into the truck and go to the river to wash in its waters.
There was a brook nearby, but the river was their favored bathing location because it was like a “big bath” for all of them. When their handmade soap trickled down the river, they would swim together and wash each other’s hair.
Parton recalled making a joke about how filthy they were, claiming that their river bath would have created a ring around the Little Pigeon River and comparing it to a “bathtub.” For them, bathing in the river was a midsummer rite.
Throughout the winter, the entire family would wash as much as possible in a pan of water. When Grobel asked Parton how often she and her family bathed during the winter, she replied:
“Well, as the adage goes, we showered once a week whether we needed it or not.”
Parton began to value bathing more as she approached high school. Because of her younger siblings’ unsanitary nighttime habits, she would take a bath every night. She disclosed:
“Every night, the kids peed on me. Three and four of us slept in the bed. Every night, I would wash my clothes. And as soon as I went to bed, the kids would wet on me, and I’d have to do it all over again in the morning.”
Unafraid to express her feelings, Parton added that, while getting peed on may seem disgusting to some, she believed the urine was their source of warmth in the cold.
She remembered how cold it was at home when she lived in the mountains, and she even stated it was almost a joy to be peed on because the room was as cold as the outside. She said they’d all wrap up and go to bed.
Giving Away Millions
Parton has described her family as joyful and wealthy in other ways, despite their poverty. Being up humbled her, and even when she amassed millions, she never ceased caring for those in need, as her family did some time before. She stated:
“My family will always be my first and greatest passion. That often gets lost in the shuffle, but there’s a familial element in everything I do.”
She noted that her family influenced her music and that her theme park, Dollywood, and Dixie Stampede—one of the park’s shows—are designed to allow families to spend time together and have fun.
Parton’s net worth was predicted to be $375 million in 2022 by Forbes, making her a self-made millionaire. Her financial success was mostly due to her ownership of music publishing rights and a theme park.
She owns approximately 3,000 songs, including the well-known “I Will Always Love You,” which she refused to share with Elvis Presley in the 1970s. This choice paid off when Whitney Houston recorded the song in the 1990s.
Parton has also gotten a publishing fee for her songs that have been utilized in films, aired, or sold. According to Forbes, her songs are worth $150 million, and she has made $6 million to $8 million in royalties.
The music icon’s immense riches, however, stems from her famed theme park, Dollywood, which is one of Tennessee’s most popular tourist destinations and reputedly takes in $3 million each year.
In 1968, the country singer invested in Pigeon Forge, a tourist park in Tennessee. She then changed the name to “Dollywood,” a pun on the term “Hollywood.” The park features a hotel as well as a water park.
Doggie Parton, a pun on her renowned moniker, has lately started a new firm called Doggy Parton. Her passion of animals motivated her to start her own firm, which makes dog toys and apparel lines.
Parton’s upbringing in poverty taught her the value of sharing her accomplishment with others. Parton, a musician and entrepreneur, is also involved in a number of humanitarian and social issues. She now gives millions of dollars to individuals in need.
Parton collaborated with a group of musicians in 2016 to collect $13 million for survivors of the East Tennessee wildfires that ravaged Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
Other well-known performers that performed at the “Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund” event were Chris Stapelton, Kenny Rogers, Lauren Alaina, Alison Krauss, Reba McEntire, Cyndy Lauper, and Chris Young.
Parton donated $1 million to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville in 2017 after her niece was treated there for leukemia.
Parton made a big contribution to the healthcare industry by generously contributing a huge amount of money, in addition to offering financial support to individuals afflicted by natural catastrophes.
She made news in 2020 after donating $1 million to vaccine research during the COVID-19 epidemic, which affected people all around the world. Her contributions aided in the development of the Moderna vaccine.
Parton is also well-known for her lifetime commitment to encouraging early childhood literacy. Every month, she sends free books to nearly one million children through her non-profit organization, Imagination Library.
Parton and her father, Robert Lee, established a non-profit foundation to help youngsters learn to read and write in 1995. Due to a lack of educational possibilities in his adolescence, her father was illiterate.
Her father served as the primary inspiration for the program. The non-profit began in eastern Tennessee, but it has now expanded to assist children in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
She and her father’s literacy program spread to Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Parton visited the Library of Congress in 2018 to commemorate the program’s 100 millionth book distribution.
Parton had no idea her campaign would be so successful since she only wanted to assist her father and her hometown. “But then it simply took its own wings, and I think it was meant to be,” she smiled.
Before passing away in 2000, her father was able to see the rewards of their effort. Parton noted before his death that her father took tremendous delight in making a significant contribution to something worthy.
Nevertheless, her goals for the Imagination Library are lofty. She acknowledged to having high goals and aspires to give out a total of a billion books, maybe during her lifetime.
Even though Parton had a difficult upbringing, she never lost the value of family and community. She utilized her fame to give back, contributing millions of dollars to philanthropic organizations such as education, health, and disaster relief each year.
Her impoverished background taught her the importance of hard work, persistence, and the ability of music to unite people. Yet, when she reflects on her life, she recalls the pleasure, laughter, and love that filled her childhood home, as well as the family that stood with her every step of the way.