Dolly Parton’s ‘homebody’ husband Carl has shied away from showbiz and forged his own career despite his wife’s millions – and Dolly recently bumped into the flirty bank clerk who inspired her song Jolene, though the name actually came from an eight-year-old fan
Jolene is one of Dolly Parton’s most famous songs, as the country crooner begs a mysterious red-headed woman not to “take her man”.
And it was based on a true story – Dolly has previously explained Jolene was a real clerk at a bank near to where Dolly and her husband Carl Dean lived.
She was very flirty with Carl, and a furious Dolly penned the song that would make her millions – before banning her husband from visiting that branch.
“A lot of my songs are based on some truth and Jolene was about a girl that was flirting with my husband back then,” she once explained.
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“She was working down at the bank and he was spending a little more time down there than he should. So I put a stop to that!
“I wrote the song about Jolene and I did a lot of banking after that, but not with her bank.”
But despite having been married to Carl for 55 years, the ghost of Jolene still lingers – with Dolly admitting she still checks his personal items for any signs of contact between him and her love rival.
Dolly, who turns 76 on Wednesday, told The Sun: “I was looking through his address book the night before we renewed our vows.
“I thought, I’m gonna see if he’s still got Jolene’s number.”
And since then she’s actually run into the woman herself, joking that the experience helped heal all her longtime insecurities.
“Just so you know, I did see the actual Jolene not long ago. She’s not so hot now,” Dolly said on US TV.
“She used to have that beautiful red hair, and now she’s grey. She used to have a little tight butt. Now, it’s a tight spot getting her butt through that door now.”
Laughing, she added: “She used to wear a D-cup – now she’s wearing Depends.”
As for Carl, the singer has quipped that if Jolene still wants her ageing husband, she’s welcome to him.
“Every time I look at him sleeping over there in his La-Z-Boy, snoring, that hair turning grey at the temples, I wonder if Jolene is still around. I’ll call her up and say, ‘You come and get him now!'” she teased.
But the truth is, Dolly and Carl are dedicated to each other, and she likely never had anything to worry about.
Dolly Parton Twitter)
In fact, Carl has said he knew he wanted to marry Dolly the moment he met her in a not-so-glamorous setting.
They first laid eyes on each other outside a laundromat in Nashville in 1964, and it was love at first sight for Carl.
“My first thought was I’m going to marry that girl,” Carl once said of the meeting.
“My second was, ‘Lord she’s good lookin.’ And that was the day my life began.”
Carl, then 21, caught her attention by joking that she was going to get sunburn in her revealing outfit.
The pair married two years later in a small ceremony in Ringgold, Georgia in 1966, with only Dolly’s mother as a witness.
Popperfoto via Getty Images)
Dolly’s music career was soon to take off as she signed with Monument Records soon after, going on to sell more than 100 million records worldwide.
But fame wasn’t something Carl wanted or enjoyed, and he instead chose to live a quiet life on their sprawling farm, running a paving firm until his recent retirement.
“Listen, he’s a homebody and doesn’t like to go out in public,” Dolly previously told The Mirror.
“We have a farm and he’s more than happy keeping the fields mowed, the barns painted and working away on his farm equipment.”
In fact, the singer describes her husband as a “loner”.
“He doesn’t particularly care about being around anybody but me. He’s just always asked me to leave him out of all this. He does not like all the hullabaloo,” she explained.
Redferns via Getty Images)
In an interview back in 1978, Dolly said her husband had “no desire to be in show business”.
“He don’t want to have his picture in the paper. He don’t want to go out to the supermarket and have people say, ‘That’s Dolly Parton’s husband,'” she said.
For his 79th birthday last year, Dolly famously recreated her legendary 1978 Playboy photoshoot for him, dressing up in a bunny outfit and framing a copy of the cover she graced.
Many people have tried to track the real Jolene down over the years – but Dolly has revealed she changed her name in the lyrics, making her even more elusive.
So where did she get the name Jolene from?
Dolly says it was actually from a child – an eight-year-old fan who asked her for an autograph after a show.
“She had this beautiful red hair, this beautiful skin, these beautiful green eyes, and she was looking up at me,” said Dolly.
“I said, ‘Well, you’re the prettiest little thing I ever saw. So what is your name?’ And she said, ‘Jolene’.
“And I said, ‘Jolene. Jolene. Jolene. Jolene… That is pretty. That sounds like a song. I’m going to write a song about that.'”
And Dolly laughed all the way to the bank – but not the one Jolene worked at.
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