Dolly Parton confession: Country legend rejected husband Carl Dean before first date

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The Country legend, who celebrated her 75th birthday this week, made a sweet request for people to be “kind” to one another in an open letter to fans online. Parton has composed over 3,000 songs during nearly six decades in the music industry, including Jolene, I Will Always Love You and 9 to 5. But one aspect that has fascinated fans for years is the singer’s relationship with her “extremely private” husband.

Parton has been married to Mr Dean, an asphalt road-paving businessman, for nearly 55 years yet little is known about him because he has no interest in being in the public spotlight. 

Disbelief over her relationship status led to a conspiracy theory to emerge online that her husband was “imaginary” and had never ever existed.

Last year, the Tennessee-born star addressed the false claims during an interview with Entertainment Tonight and admitted she found it amusing.

Parton said: “A lot of people have thought that through the years because he does not want to be in the spotlight at all. It’s just not who he is. 

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“He’s a quiet, reserved person and he figured if he ever got out there in that, he’d never get a minute’s peace and he’s right about that.”

Parton has “always respected” his decision and tried to “keep him out of the limelight as much” as possible.

She recalled: “He said, ‘I didn’t choose this world, I chose you, and you chose that world. 

“‘But we can keep our lives separate and together.’ And we do and we have.”

However, in a rare disclosure about their relationship, Parton explained the story behind their first date in 1964.

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Parton was 18 at the time, three years younger than Mr Dean, when he “hollered” at her in his pickup truck.

In 1976, she revealed to The New York Times that she politely declined his request to go on a date with her – but shortly after she changed her mind.

Parton invited him to her family home while she babysat her nephew the following day. 

She said: “He came up every day that week and we sat out on the porch. I wouldn’t even take him in the house.

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“Then my aunt got a day-off and she could keep the kid and that was my first chance to go anywhere with Carl.”

In a surprisingly forward move, Dean drove her “straight to his folk’s house and introduced her” to his parents. 

Parton recalled: “He said, ‘He knew right the minute he saw me that that’s the one he wanted.’”

In 2016, Mr Dean gave a rare interview and revealed: “My first thought was, ‘I’m gonna marry that girl’. My second thought was, ‘Lord, she’s good looking!’

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“And that was the day my life began. I wouldn’t trade the last 50 years for nothing on this earth.” 

Two years after their first date, Parton and Mr Dean married – despite protests from her record label that she should wait at least one more year. 

His rejection of fame continued and was best-highlighted by a comment he made to Parton after they attended a BMI event together in 1966.

The singer was particularly excited about the formal dinner because that year she had released her “first big record”, which was announced as BMI’s Song of the Year.

In 2011, she told attendees of the Marty Stuart Jam country event: “So Carl and I got dressed up, he was in a tux, and we drove to the dinner.

“We got out and walked up the red carpet and went inside and sat through dinner and the awards.

“After the dinner, Carl turned to me and said, ‘Dolly, I want you to have everything you want and I’m happy for you, but don’t you ever ask me to go to another one of them dang things again!'”

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