Dolly Parton's Net Worth and Her Rise to Superstardom
Dolly Parton may be small stature, but she's big in business, entertainment and charity. As one of the most well-loved celebrities in the world, she has touched countless lives.
Dolly Parton's net worth is also extremely high. Not only has she made money from music, but she's also an accomplished, actress, author, theme park owner and soon-to-be fashion mogul.
Her rags-to-riches story is amazing, and she continues to inspire the world.
Dolly Parton Grew Up Poor
When Dolly was born in 1946, it is said the doctor who delivered her was paid for his service with a sack of cornmeal. She was one of 12 kids and grew up in Tennessee without heat, indoor plumbing, electricity or running water.
Her clothes and toys were homemade hand-me-downs.
Her Parents Were a Big Influence on Her Music and Charitable Nature
Dolly’s parents married young and while they didn't have a lot, they impacted how Dolly would see the world.
"I get a lot of my spirituality and my music from my mom," Dolly said. "But I’ve got my daddy’s nerve and determination and work ethic."
She Started Performing at an Early Age
Dolly began entertaining audiences at just 8 years old and was performing on Knoxville radio and TV by the time she was 10.
By the time she was 13, she appeared at the Grand Ole Opry, where she met Johnny Cash, who encouraged her to follow her dreams.
After High School, She Left for Music City
The day after graduation in 1964, Dolly left for Nashville. On her her first day in the city, she met Carl Dean, who she's now been married to for almost 60 years.
Dolly also became a songwriter. She and her uncle, Bill Owens, wrote hits for county stars Bill Phillips and Skeeter Davis. Kitty Wells and Hank Williams Jr. also recorded her songs.
Dolly's first single, "Dumb Blonde," reached number 24 on the country charts and her second, "Something Fishy," went to number 17.
One of her first first royalty checks from writing songs was a whopping $1.02.
Meeting a Country Legend Changed Her Life
County Icon Porter Wagoner offered Dolly a spot on "The Porter Wagoner Show" and in his touring band. She was also signed to RCA Victor as a solo artist, but her first single was with Wagoner.
"The Last Thing on My Mind" went to the top of the country charts in January 1968. This was the start of a six-year string of hits for the duo.
Venturing Out on Her Own
By the early 1970s, Dolly wanted to branch out on her and began severing career ties with Wagoner. As a goodbye to the man who jump-started her career, she wrote "I Will Always Love You."
Elvis Presley wanted to record the song, but his management wanted her to sign over half the publishing rights, and she declined.
She Wrote Two Iconic Hits in One Night
Both "Jolene" and "I Will Always Love You" were at the top of the country charts in 1974.
Dolly discovered a cassette with both songs on it years later and realized she had written both on the same night.
Dolly Is a Prolific Songwriter
Dolly has written at least 3,000 songs but only 450 of them have been recorded. She even has a "secret song" locked away at her DreamMore Resort that no one will hear until 2045.
"I had dreamed of the resort for many years before it became real," she said. "They try every year to come up with something that will draw the interest of the press. They thought up the idea of a vault-like box that people could see as they walked by. They asked me to write a song to put in there. It would be a song that will never be heard until thirty years from the time we opened."
She Became a Crossover Star in the 1970s
Dolly expanded into the pop charts after leaving Wagoner.
In the 1970s and 80s she cranked out chart topping classics such as "Islands in the Stream (with Kenny Rogers), "Working 9 to 5," "Here You Come Again" and "Two Doors Down."
In the 1980s, She Recorded with Other Music Legends
She, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt recorded the album "Trio," released to critical acclaim in 1987.
It spent five weeks at the top of Billboard's Country Album's Chart and was in the top ten of Billboard's Top 200 Albums. "Trio" produced four Top 10 country hits, including a cover of "To Know Him Is to Love Him."
The album won a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
Her Biggest Chart Topper Was Not Recorded by Her
Just as Dolly made the switch to bluegrass in the 1990s, Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You" became one of the biggest singles of all time.
"I Will Always Love You" has since sold over 20 million copies.
Dolly's Outspoken When It Comes to Her Beliefs
Dolly has never been one to stay quiet when it comes to her values. She was an outspoken supporter of feminist causes early on.
Her 1968 single "Just Because I’m a Woman," which points out the double standard between the sexes, became a feminist anthem.
She Has a Big Heart and Loves to Give
Dolly will happily donate millions to a good cause. She raised over $9 million for victims of the Great Smoky Mountains wildfires in 2016.
In the 1990s, she launched the Imagination Library. The organization mails a book a month to children until they begin school. So far, it has sent out over 150 million books to children in the US, Canada, Australia, Ireland and Great Britian.
She's a Successful Author
Not only is Dolly a songwriter, she has written several books on various topics.
They include books about her life ("Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics" and "Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business"), children's books ("Coat of Many Colors", "I Am a Rainbow"), books on her personal philosophy ("Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You") and even cookbooks ("Dolly’s Dixie Fixin’s").
Her latest book, "Run Rose Run," came out in early March 2022.
Dolly Has Her Own Theme Park
Dollywood made its official debut in 1986 and has more than doubled in size since then. Over 2.5 million people visit the park each year. It has over 50 rides, entertainment, Southern-style cuisine, and local artisans.
Dolly will make an appearance at the park every so often, but you won't see her on any rides. She has terrible motion sickness.
She's Dabbled in Film and on Broadway
Dolly made her acting debut in 1980's "9 to 5" with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. In 2008, she created a musical based on the film, which ended up getting four Tony nods.
She's also starred in hit movies such as "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and "Steel Magnolias."
Dolly Parton's Net Worth Is Nothing to Sneeze At
With a net worth of over $600 million, Dolly is one of the wealthiest musicians alive today. She's made her money in music, film and Dollywood.
She also announced her own fashion line in 2019 and has a perfume line.
She Lives in a Modest Home
Unlike other artists of her stature, Dolly and her husband live in a modest home in Brentwood, Tennessee. She bought the 3,324 square feet home 1999 for just $400,000.
The property has multiple structures (including a chapel) and has a swimming pool and tennis court.
Dolly Is a Multiple Award Winner
Throughout her career, Dolly has been awarded multiple times for her contributions to entertainment. She's won 11 Grammys and 51 nominations, an Emmy, and has been awarded titles such as Entertainer of the Year and Top Country Female Artist from various organizations.
She is also the Country Music and Songwriters Hall of Fame and has been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
She Is a Guinness World Record Holder
Dolly has had hits in every decade from the 1960s through the 2010s. She is the first person in music to have achieved this.
She also has had the most number 1 hits on the Hot Country Songs chart (at 25) and most hits overall (109) by a female.
She Owns Hundreds of Wigs
Dolly is said to have more than 300 wigs. She says it keeps her from ever having a bad hair day.
Dolly Is a TV Veteran
She has made more the 400 guest appearances on TV. She's been seen on everything from talk shows to "Hannah Montana." (Well, she is Miley Cyrus' godmother, after all.)
Like Most Successful People, Dolly Is an Early Riser
Dolly Parton gets up at 3 a.m. to start her day. During this time, she meditates and answers emails.
She's Been Honored by the U.S. Government
The U.S. Library of Congress honored Dolly with its Living Legend Award in 2004. Just two years later, she received a prestigious Kennedy Center Honor.
Dolly Parton Has Literally Saved Lives
Did you know the Dolly has had a hand in the creation of COVID vaccines? She donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University, which helped researchers create Moderna's MRNA vaccine.
"When I donated the money to the COVID fund I just wanted it to do good and evidently, it is. Let’s just hope we can find a cure real soon," she said.
She Declined Her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nomination, But the Organization Isn't Taking No for an Answer
In early 2022, Dolly was nominated for entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While she said she was "flattered," she declined the nod, saying, "I don't feel I have earned that right."
The Rock Hall disagreed and issued a statement: "Dolly’s nomination, along with the other 16 artists for the class of 2022, was sent out to our 1,200 general ballot voters, the majority of whom are artists themselves, for consideration for induction at our ceremony. We are in awe of Dolly’s brilliant talent and pioneering spirit and are proud to have nominated her for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."
She May Have a Rock Album in Her Yet
Nirvana producer Steve Albini has offered to produce a rock record for Dolly. Just after she declined the Rock Hall nomination, he tweeted, "Dolly Parton do you like analog recording?"
This may be the collaboration of the decade. Stay tuned.