“Storms make trees take deeper roots.” Only a woman as iconic as Dolly Parton could speak such wisdom. The Jolene singer is an absolute legend whose voice and confidence have made a mark across the globe. Even at the age of 77, she is a cheeky country girl at heart whose success story is remarkable and inspiring. Born to a poor farmer, Parton went on to make an unforgettable legacy.
This iconic country singer has made her name not only as a musician but also lyricist, actress, and songwriter. Her philanthropy is also remarkable, and it is clear that the Nashville Queen believes in giving back to the community. From her first album, ‘I Am Dolly,’ to all the hits she has given over her career, she is a must for all country music fans.
Even though she began her career as a pop singer, she went on to carve her name into the legends of the country genre. A woman with soft wisdom, sharp wit, and cheerful words, she has both the charisma as well as the talent that has helped her make a home in her fan’s hearts. She is also the godmother of singer Miley Cyrus.
During her career, she has earned several awards. She has received 11 Grammy Awards out of 50 nominations, with the Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also been awarded ten Country Music Association Awards and three American Music Awards; this is not even half the list. While she has been awe-inspiring at any age, here are 35 photos of a young Dolly Parton to commit to the memory of her incredible journey.
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1) Dolly, Aged 3
This picture of Dolly Parton at the age of 3 was taken at her one-room cabin in Tennessee. A reminder of the humble beginnings she comes from, this picture is a peek into her difficult yet content childhood. While a lot has changed in her remarkable life, her contagious smile has remained as it was. This is perhaps one of the earliest photos of a young Dolly Parton. The country singer grew up among eleven siblings, and some made their careers in music while others lived peaceful lives outside of the spotlight.
2) Dolly At 9
The child with beaming eyes in this picture might look ordinary, but she was the beloved Queen of Country in 1955. A year after this picture was taken, that is, in 1956, Dolly debuted in “The Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour,” a variety show. The blond icon was around nine years old at the time. She is the fourth child in a long list of eleven siblings.
3) A Diva Since 5
This photograph, taken in the year 1951, is proof that no matter how young will always find the camera. A reminder of the family she comes from, the picture is a beautiful reminder that all family photoshoots are chaotic, even if you are destined to be a star. The Queen of Country has spoken a lot about her family situation. She talked about how her father paid the pastor who helped deliver her Oatmeal. She would actually go on to write a song about the pastor.
4) The Partons
The iconic singer grew up with 11 siblings. Safe to say she came from a large family. She has talked about her humble beginnings and her family on several occasions. It is clear from the picture that even though her childhood was anything but easy, she grew up with love and support. Even when the family was always cramped living in a one-bedroom cabin, they had each other’s back.
5) The Timeless Smile
A fourteen-year-old Dolly Parton beams in this picture as she is photographed at her school, Sevier County High School, in 1960. She skipped the awkward teenager phase, looking radiant as ever in this picture. One of the many photos of a young Dolly Parton, this one is evidence that her jovial self has always been there.
6) The First Performance
In the year 1959, at the age of thirteen, Dolly performed on the stage for the first time. Her first Grand Ole Opry performance with her Uncle Bill received three encores. Her uncle introduced her as a little girl from up in East Tennessee.
Whose daddy’s listening to the radio at home, and who’s gonna be in real trouble if she doesn’t sing tonight? Little did they know that she was destined to become one of the most legendary singers ever to hit the world. She recalled being in awe of the arena as her uncle introduced her.
7) Dolly In Her Yearbook
While many people are embarrassed by their yearbook pictures, and rightfully so, the Nashville Queen looks absolutely adorable in hers. Taken in 1962, this is Dolly’s photograph from her sophomore year. Three years later, she would go on to sign a contract with Monument Records, but right now, she is posing for her yearbook alongside her classmates—once just another student in a yearbook, now a legend in the field of music.
8) Big Hair Debut
Photographed in 1965, this picture has Dolly Parton showing off her signature high hair. Bigger the hair, the closer to god. While Dolly did not write this, she has lived it. This year she signed her first contract as a pop star with Monument Records. While she is best known as a country singer, she did not debut as one. At this point, she was singing pop songs and writing for other artists. Later she would convince Monument Records to record her album and release it two years later.
9) Studio Sophistication
In 1966 this photo showed Dolly Parton recording in her studio. The sophistication of her outfit here is unmatched. She looks both effortless and elegant. She will depart from this subtlety in the future and go on to rock more dramatic outfits, rocking both styles equally. Around the 70s, her style was very laid back and effortless, while the early 60s saw her relish in more bohemian fashion. Her signatures were yet to fully emerge.
10) Debut on Porter Wagoner Show
In 1967, Dolly got her big break as she made her debut on the Porter Wagoner Show and joined their cast. She was at the time replacing Norma Jean, a well-known country singer with a following among fans of traditional country music. This was made possible due to Wagoner’s admiration for her after he heard her perform ‘Dumb Blonde.’
The fans were actually not happy with her appearance due to their love for Norma Jean. This was because there was a stark difference in the music of both women and their voices, with Parton having a certain vibrato in hers. Norma Jean also dressed more conservatively than the ‘Jolene’ singer. Despite odds, she appeared on the show on September 5 and performed ‘Dumb Blonde.’
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11) With Porter Wagoner
Her music partnership with Porter Wagoner would turn out to be one of the most important of her life. They will go on to work together for about seven years. They were photographed together on the set of The Porter Wagoner Show. Wagoner’s daughter Debra described Dolly Parton as someone who rejuvenated her father’s career. She wrote I Will Always Love You as a tribute to him as they ended their partnership.
12) Dolly in The 70s
Around the 1970s, her style started to emerge into what is popular today. With large hoops, her signature blonde curls, and a casual-country style outfit, it just does not get more Dolly Parton than that. A total hit, her fashion sense remained in many ways true to her roots. Funky sweatshirts, large curls, and big hoops, her style came to be more defined during this era.
13) Dolly In 1972
In 1972, Dolly’s style began to shape. She began to make some gorgeous appearances. Her famous sunshine yellow dress was a result of this time too. At the same time, she was photographed in her iconic red dress in California. It was the same. She started making her evergreen hits like the famous Jolene.
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14) Dazzling Dolly
In 1974 Dolly was photographed in what would come to be known as one of her best looks. Wearing a pair of wide-leg pants with a top that had a butterfly bedazzled on it, she was a diva all envied. With hits like “Jolene” and “Coat of Many Colors” under her belt, she would go on to sing “I Will Always Love You,” which would become the number hit in the Country.
15) Parton For Playboy
Parton was invited to make an appearance on the cover of Playboy in 1978. This was rather unusual since the magazine would display sexual material and female nudity. Parton had a few conditions if she were to make this appearance. In sharp contrast to the magazine’s style, she appeared on the cover fully clothed, boasting a pair of bunny ears, a bow tie, and her ever-so-lovely grin. Not in Line with the expectations, it did quite well, and Dolly had yet another glamorous outfit to show.
16) Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris with Dolly Parton
Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris joined Dolly Parton on her short-lived show ‘Dolly!’. While the show only went for about 26 episodes, it was one of the ways in which Dolly was experimenting with her talents. Joined by the two famous artists, they went on to serenade the audiences no matter how few.
17) Performance At the Bottom Line
In 1977 Dolly Parton performed at Bottom Line, an ultra-popular club at the time. She performed songs from her New Harvest…First Gathering. This was her first number-one album as a solo artist. As she performed that day, icons like Mick Jagger and John Belushi came to witness her talent. She hit the milestone in, of course, the classic Dolly attire of pink clothes and blonde curls.
18) The Gift
Even as Dolly Parton made her fortune, she never forgot her roots. With a strong desire to provide for her family, she went on to gift cars to both her parents. Her father received a blue truck and her mother a Cadillac, both cars that the parents dreamt of. While both her parents have now passed on, she cherishes the cars due to the memories they possess. In this photo of a young Dolly Parton, she sits inside that very Cadillac.
19) From Studio 54
Studio 54 was a bar notorious for bad celebrity behavior. Once she rose to fame, the young Dolly was too invited to the famous location. In 1978 the New York City bar held a memorable soirée in Dolly’s honor. It was complete with haystacks and farm animals to honor Dolly’s county heritage. The photograph is of Dolly with one of the horses brought to the club.
20) Queen of Nashville Meets The Queen Of England
Dolly Parton had the honor of meeting the late Queen Elizabeth in the year 1977. This happened following a show in Glasglow as the queen was on her tour of Scotland. Featured here is a young Queen with young Parton, along with “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along” star Shari Lewis and singer-actor David Soul.
21) Fourth Annual American Music Awards
Dolly Parton appeared at the Fourth Annual American Music Awards wearing one of her most iconic outfits ever. Parton sported a baby pink piece with a silk scarf in her hair and, of course, her signature smile. This outfit is a fan favorite. The bedazzlement of the jacket with its Country meets city vibe was perfect for the time.
22) Icon With An Icon
1977 became a blessed year for music and fashion when Dolly Parton collaborated with Cher. Dolly paired up with Cher in 1978 for the ABC special, “Cher… Special.” It was her lucky day. For this performance, Dolly received her first Emmy nomination for outstanding continuing performance by a supporting actress in variety or music.
23) Dolly and Carol
This photograph features Dolly Parton alongside comedian Carol Burnett. They teamed up together for the TV special Dolly & Carol in Nashville. This was done to promote Parton’s album “Heartbreaker.” This television feature was shot at The Grand Ole Opry. The special was broadcasted on CBS on ironically Valentine’s Day in 1979. It was here they performed the memorable No One Likes A Nashville Picker.
24) Parton Meets The President
Photographed here is Dolly Parton, in true fashion, hugging President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter. This picture was taken on October 2, 1979, during an event in Washington, D.C., celebrating country music. This moment is proof of truly how contagious Dolly’s Joy is. Even the president is a victim of it.
25) First Grammy Nomination
In 1970 Dolly Parton received her first Grammy Nomination. She appeared in a pink outfit that made us realize once again why she is called “The Backwoods Barbie.” She was the life of the carpet in signature wide-leg pants and blond curls that evening. At the same time, she would not win the Grammy that year.
Her efforts will be accounted for as she would go on to win the prestigious award in 1979 for Best Female Country vocal performance for “Here You Come Again.” This was one of the most memorable photos of a young Dolly Parton. No wonder she is the Country Barbie.
26) The Cast of 9 to 5
This picture features not one but three legends, including Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. Dolly Parton starred in her movie debut in 1980 for the show ‘9 to 5’, a comedy about three secretaries who kidnap their boss. Jane Fonda once spoke about the positive changes that the blond bought to the movie crew. This 1980 film was a hit. It also inspired a popular Broadway musical. She received three Golden Globe nominations for her work in the comedy as well as an Oscar nomination for the track 9 to 5.
27) Dolly and Her Brother
This is a 1980 picture of Dolly Parton and her songwriter brother Floyd. A talented songwriter, Floyd penned several songs for his sister, including Rockin’ Years,” “Nickels and Dimes,” and “Waltz Me to Heaven” in Rhinestone. Floyd, Parton’s younger brother, died in 2018 at the age of 61. His contribution to the Patron legacy is unparalleled.
28) With Larry Gatlin
Larry Gatlin and Dolly Parton came to the premiere of ‘The Best Little Wh***house In Texas”. A photograph from July 1982 has the two stars appearing together in Opryland. In this movie, she starred as brothel madam Mona Stanley opposite Burt Reynolds. The movie earned her her second Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical Film. Several iconic numbers came from this movie, including The Aggie Song, Hard Candy Christmas, 20 Fans, and The Sidestep.
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29) At The Premiere of Rhinestone
Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone appeared together at the premiere of Dolly’s third feature film Rhinestone. She starred as Jake Farris, a country singer opposite Stallone, who played the role of a cabbie. The film, despite the very famous cast, was not successful. It was considered a flop among the audiences.
Despite that, this was the very film that earned them both their spots in the Hall of Fame. All the original music of the film was performed by Dolly herself. Three of her siblings — Randy, Floyd, and Stella Parton — also contributed to the soundtrack. Even though the film itself was not a hit, the music and soundtrack gained popularity over time.
30) Star Guests
In 1987 Dolly Parton took another stab at headlining a variety show called ‘Dolly’ on ABC. She hosted several guests on her show, including some of the biggest stars from the world. However, this particular guest duo was extra special. In this specific episode, her guests were her parents. This was a special Thanksgiving episode. Most of her family was featured in this episode. Much like the special before this, this show also lasted about 22 episodes, but this was one of the most heartwarming moments on television.
31) Dollywood Opens
In 1986 the Nashville Queen opened up her themed park titled 1986. At present, it has completed over thirty-three seasons. This is a picture from October 24, 1988, when Dolly Parton paid a visit to Dollywood. It is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and is also the home of Dolly Parton’s Stampede. Stampede is a theatre dinner experience where the members of the Parton family often perform. It was expanded to include a water park called Dollywood’s Splash Country. In 2019 a new section of the park also opened up Wildwood Grove.
32) Mr. And Mrs. Claus
Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton were long-time collaborators. They teamed up to work several times and were long-time friends, just as they were musical partners. On August 9, 1984, they dressed up Mr. and Mrs. Claus for a promotional photo shoot for their 1984 Christmas special, “Kenny & Dolly: A Christmas to Remember.” That same year they collaborated again and created the album “Once Upon A Christmas.”. The album featured hits like The First Noel, Silent Night, Touch Your Woman, and of course, the namesake Once Upon A Christmas.
33) Marrying Hulk Hogan
In the 1980s, Dolly Parton saw a circulating tabloid claiming that she had fallen in love with the pro wrestler Hulk Hogan. She had her share of fun with this rumor. The blonde diva ended up writing a spoof song about the circumstance, “Headlock of My Heart.” She also ended up conducting a fake marriage with the wrestler on her variety show. This was all in good fun only, as she has been happily married to her husband, Carl Dean, since 1966. What a couple they made, indeed!
34) Ethereal Beauty
This was an incredible photoshoot conducted for the album cover of her album. Now an iconic photo, Dolly Parton looks like an absolute dream in this dress. From the pink frills to the fantastical blonde hair, everything about this shoot was perfect. The Backwoods Barbie was a vision, and the background of the shoot was the cherry on top. This became the cover of her Heartbreaker album featuring. Everything from the pink chiffon of the dress to her ballet-inspired footwear was a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
35) White Glamour
Parton was photographed for her variety show that aired from 1987 to 1988. Although the variety show lasted only some 22 episodes, it featured some very iconic moments, like the time she was accompanied by an actual parrot on the show. One of the many such moments was this shoot, where she wore a glamorous white outfit. In true Dolly fashion, the outfit featured sequins and glitter.
Satin and shoulder pads made the outfit more sophisticated without sacrificing the lovable eccentrics of the blond singer. While she has many beautiful outfits, the glamour of this one is unparalleled. This is one of the best photos of a young Dolly Parton.
These photos of a young Dolly Parton are an ode to her incredible life. From living in a single-room cabin with eleven siblings to buying dream cars for her family, the Leading lady of Country has made herself immortal in the hearts of music lovers. Over the years, Dolly Parton shared several of her stories, from her family life to her personal philosophies to her struggles.
An admirable woman, she remained true to her roots. A loving wife, a legend, and a caring godmother, her story is that of success. It has been rightly said you can take the girl out of the Country but not the Country out of the girl. In one of the most important events of her life, her face was immortalized in her hometown of Sevierville—a true honor. Anyone who comes to Sevierville will know that a star was born here.
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