Dolly Parton: False Facts Everyone Believes About Her

Country music star Dolly Parton has had so many rumors about her spread in the tabloids and online. All of the gossip probably comes from the fact that Parton has been famous for a really long time, and, throughout her career, she's been close with many other celebrities — namely men. But it also may come about because, although she has a huge stage personality, Parton is a relatively private person, keeping her personal life pretty quiet.

Some of the rumors you've heard about Parton are, in fact, true: She really did lose a Dolly Parton lookalike contest to a drag queen once, and she actually did have an emotional affair with a man that left her feeling suicidal. But most of what you hear about this country singer is totally made up. Here are some of the many false facts that everyone believes about her. Spoiler: There's a lot of false information out there.

Her arms are covered in tattoos

Chances are good that, at some point, you have heard the rumors that Parton is covered in secret tattoos, especially on her arms, which she covers up by wearing long-sleeved shirts and dresses all the time. In 2014, Jezebel even wrote an article about it that was full of photo "evidence." This is one rumor that Parton has addressed many times. In an interview on Today, Savannah Guthrie asked Parton if she wore sleeves all the time to cover up her tattoos, to which Parton answered, "No, I don't." She added, "I do have a few little tattoos, but they were mostly done to cover scars cause I'm so fair. ... So it started with that, so I'm not really one to have tattoos, but I do have a few but they're not where you can see them."

In an interview with Vanity Fair, she said, "I don't really like to make a big to-do of [the tattoos] because people make such a big damn deal over every little thing." She noted that she has a few, mostly pastels, and that she's "not trying to make some big, bold statement" by getting inked.

Her husband doesn't actually exist

Diehard Parton fans know that the singer has been married to her husband, Carl Dean, for over 50 years now. Dean is an extremely private person, and he is never seen with Parton at red carpet appearances, awards shows, or concerts. It's also almost impossible to find a photo of him and Parton together. Because of this, many believe that he doesn't actually exist. But around the time of their 50th anniversary, Parton and Dean shared their love story on the singer's official website, revealing that they met in 1964 outside of a laundromat in Tennessee. They even shared an old photo of themselves together. 

Dean also opened up about Parton in a rare public statement obtained by Fox News, saying, "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." See! He really does exist! 

She has cheated on her husband many times

One of the most popular rumors about Parton is that she has cheated on her husband a lot. This could be because people rarely see him, or it could be because Parton works with men quite often and has an outgoing personality — or maybe it's a mix of both. Parton has addressed the rumors before, and, while she has admitted to having an emotional affair, that's about it. In an interview with The Guardian, she said she has "flirtations," adding, "My husband knows I'm always coming home." But she also said, "I wouldn't tell you if I had," saying, "Maybe I did. Maybe I didn't. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. And it's none of your damn business!" 

She said something similar in an interview with ABC News, stating, "I've... been accused of being involved with every man I'm ever seen with or worked with." She went on, "Maybe I have, maybe I ain't. I never tell if I have. But you know people always saying that." It's hard to tell what's true when it comes to Parton! 

She is secretly a lesbian

Another rumor about Dolly Parton that won't go away — no matter how many times she denies it — is that she's a secret lesbian. People specifically believe that Parton has been having a very long lesbian affair with her good friend Judy Ogle, who always seems to be by her side. In an interview with ABC News, Parton compared her friendship with Ogle to Oprah Winfrey's close friendship with Gayle King. She said, "They just think that you just can't be that close to somebody," adding, "Judy and I have been best friends since we were like in the third and fourth grade... We still just have a great friendship and relationship and I love her as much as I love anybody in the whole world, but we're not romantically involved."

Parton has been careful to say that she has nothing wrong with anyone who is gay, it's just not a word that describes her. She told Pride Source, "I am not gay, but if I were I would be the first one running out of the closet."

She wishes she had children

Parton may have been married for over 50 years, but she and Dean never had kids of their own. A lot of people seem to think this is something Parton regrets, but she's discussed it, and it doesn't seem to be something she would change. In an interview with ABC News, she admitted that, while she does sometimes think about what her kids would look like if she and Dean had them, she doesn't have regrets. She explained, "God didn't let me have kids so everybody's kids could be mine," noting, "I can keep my nieces and nephews and then when I'm sick of them, I can say, 'Hey, come get these kids, they're driving me crazy.' I'm a Great Aunt Granny, is what they call me." 

She also told The Guardian that, while she thinks she would have made "a great mother," she knows it would have meant giving up some of her career. She elaborated, "Because I would've felt guilty about that, if I'd have left them [to work, to tour]. Everything would have changed. I probably wouldn't have been a star." 

She's the mother of two stars' babies

While many people think Parton wishes she had had children at some point, there are a whole slew of other people who believe she actually has had children — just not with her husband. There are rumors that Parton is a secret mother to kids she had with two other male celebrities, and there's a good chance these rumors came from the same people who believe she's had multiple affairs. 

In an interview with The Mirror, Parton said that the craziest thing she ever heard about herself was, "I think once I had Elvis's baby. And Burt Reynolds'." She seems pretty good-natured about it, joking, "There was a picture of me and my dog, a little Boston terrier bulldog, in the papers and my husband said to me, 'Is that yours and Burt Reynolds' baby?' People say everything, but I just take it tongue-in-cheek." It appears this is one rumor that is definitely not true. 

She's always high maintenance

Parton comes off as a high-maintenance star: Her hair and makeup is always done, and she is always wearing some sort of fabulous, glitzy outfit. There are even rumors that she has a bunker on the grounds of her Nashville home that contain all of the thousands of dresses she's ever worn (according to The Guardian, this is true). But is Parton really that high-maintenance? In an interview with The Mirror, she insisted that she is "pretty low maintenance," saying that, whenever she's backstage, all she asks for is some tissues, crazy glue to fix any broken nails, "a little flat mirror" to check her appearance, and water. She added, "I spend my hour and a half getting ready for the show, doing the make-up, the hair, the glitter and all that, but for the most part, I'm pretty low maintenance." 

She noted just how low-maintenance she is in a 2015 interview with People, when she said that, on her dates with Dean, she loves to just hang out in their RV in her "comfy" clothes.

She's very fake inside and out

Many people assume Parton is also a very fake person, a rumor that has probably come about because of her big hair, her use of makeup, the plastic surgery she's gotten, and the attention she puts into her appearance. But in an interview with The Guardian, Parton made it clear that she's very genuine, saying, "I've been around a long time. Long enough for people to realize that there's more to me than the big hair and the phoney stuff." She added, "The magic with me is that I look completely false when I'm completely real." 

Most people who meet Parton seem to agree. In a post about meeting her on his website, Roger Ebert wrote, "Dolly Parton spent about half an hour shaking everybody's hand and leaving behind a wake of people telling each other, 'Gee, she's really nice,' as if, well, as if somehow she shouldn't have been." Turns out she actually has a great reputation in Hollywood!

She had an affair with Kenny Rogers

Although Parton has been linked to many famous men, one of the celebrities a lot of people believe she had an affair with is Kenny Rogers, someone with whom she's recorded a few songs. It doesn't help that the two are good friends who have great chemistry and often joke around about that "affair" on their own. In an interview with Today, they both addressed the rumors. Rogers joked, "I'm a believer that tension is better if you keep it than if you satisfy it. And then secondly, she said no to me." Parton added that she thinks of them as brother and sister, saying, "And it would almost be like incest. So we just never went there."

She also addressed the rumors in her interview with The Guardian, saying, "We could've gone down that road. And a lot of people do. And we probably have with other people. But Kenny's like a brother to me."

She wrote Jolene about an affair her husband had

Even if you don't listen to Dolly Parton's music on a regular basis, you likely know the song "Jolene." It's one of her most popular songs, without a doubt, and it's played quite often. "Jolene" seems to be a song about Parton's husband cheating on her with a woman named Jolene and Parton begging the woman to leave her man alone. But in reality, there's a different story behind it. 

According to NPR, Parton got the idea for the song because of a redheaded bank teller who had a little bit of a crush on Parton's husband, Dean. She explained, "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." She also said that the name "Jolene" came from a redheaded girl she met at an autograph signing, noting that her name sounded "like a song." 

She's a feminist

In an age where many female celebrities have publicly announced if they are a feminist or not, it's no wonder people are curious about how Parton identifies. She has never explicitly said that she's a feminist, but many people assume she is because of her general attitude and her previous work in movies about strong female characters. 

But when she was asked if she was a feminist during an interview with The Guardian in February 2019, Parton supposedly wrinkled her nose, and said, "I don't think ... I mean, I must be if being a feminist means I'm all for women, yes. But I don't feel I have to march, hold up a sign or label myself. I think the way I have conducted my life and my business and myself speaks for itself. I don't think of it as being feminist. It's not a label I have to put on myself. I'm just all for gals." 

She supports just one political party

Another rumor people may believe about Parton regards where her political views lie. There are two thoughts out there: one is that Parton is a Republican, probably because of the fact that she's a country music star from the South, and the other is that Parton is a liberal Democrat, mainly because of her open acceptance and embrace of the gay and drag queen community. But, as it turns out, Parton won't identify with either political party. 

In an interview with The Guardian, Parton said, "I don't really like getting up on TV and saying political things. I don't even want to make a deal out of it, but I want people to know I'm my own individual self." She explained that she's watched a lot of her friends ruin their careers by speaking out on political issues, which has caused her to shy away from doing so herself. She added, "I've got as many Republican friends as I've got Democrat friends and I just don't like voicing my opinion on things." Basically, she's not going to pick a side because she doesn't want to potentially alienate half of her audience. 

She had stomach cancer

Around 2015, a lot of tabloid reports started coming out with claims that Parton was suffering from stomach cancer. The announcement was, of course, met with shock and grief from her fan base and anyone who believed it. In fact, the rumors got so bad that Parton herself had to address them. In a statement obtained by Billboard, Parton said, "There is absolutely no truth at all that I have stomach cancer," noting, "I love and appreciate everyone's concern."

However, she was suffering from another gastrointestinal-related illness. In the same statement, Parton said, "It is true that I had kidney stones," explaining, "I had them removed three weeks ago and I am doing just fine!" Since 2015, it seems like Parton's health has been all good, which is a relief. There haven't been rumors that she's sick or feeling unwell, and there have been no reports of hospital stays or anything like that. Thankfully, it appears to have just been a one-time thing. 

She got together with Burt Reynolds

Another very popular rumor about Dolly Parton is that she's had an affair with Burt Reynolds. The two worked together in the past, and, when he died in late 2018, she wrote a tribute to him on Instagram, stating, "I know we will always remember his funny laugh, that mischievous sparkle in his eyes, and his quirky sense of humor. You will always be my favorite sheriff, rest in peace my little buddy and I will always love you, Dolly." 

She addressed the rumors in an interview with The Mirror, saying, "Burt and I were a good ol' boy and girl, and I was very sad when he passed away –- we were really very much alike." She also joked about the rumors about her having an affair with Reynolds. "I couldn't wait to jump into bed with Burt Reynolds," she joked. "In the movie, not in real life." She explained that they were like "brother and sister," so it appears that the relationship between them was totally innocent.