Dolly Parton’s £400million fortune laid bare in stark rags-to-riches tale

Dolly Parton sends her support to the people of Ukraine

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‘Queens of Country: The Hits and the Heartbreak’ will air on Channel 5 tonight as American country music is celebrated. The show features a mix of live performances, rarely seen archive material and videos by Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Lorretta Lynn, Shania Twain and Taylor Swift. Along the way, there are fascinating facts and surprising connections, including the country star who ended up marrying her British coach driver. Dolly Parton is arguably the most iconic name in the world of country thanks to hits such as ‘9 to 5’ and ‘Jolene’.

But Dolly’s greatness was achieved through a lot of struggle, as shown by her testing childhood.

She grew up poor in rural Appalachia. She was one of 12 children, and money was always an issue for her family.

The singer has previously described her family as being “dirt poor”.

For six or seven years, Dolly and her family lived in a one-bedroom cabin.

Dolly even revealed that, growing up, she didn’t have a full working toilet.

She said: “My aunt in Knoxville had a toilet in the bathroom and we were so fascinated. We were afraid to use it.

“I just thought it was going to suck us right down. She also had the first television we ever saw.”

In fact, just to get clean, Dolly and her 11 brothers and sisters would simply jump into the nearby river to bathe themselves.

She explained: “That was like a big bath, and we’d all go in swimming and we’d wash our hair, wash each other’s hair.

“Soap was just flowing down the river and we were so dirty we left a ring around the Little Pigeon River.”

However, things would change for Dolly in 1967 when she was 23 years old.

Her breakthrough came on the television series The Porter Wagoner Show – Porter, a flashy-dressing traditional country singer, was looking to replace his duet partner Norma Jean.

As a team, Porter and Dolly became immediate audience favourites.

Fast forward to 2022, Dolly’s long career has handed her a fortune estimated at £400-450million.

Aside from creating more than 40 top ten country albums, Dolly has also enjoyed success in the film industry.

She earned $10million (£7.6million) in the early Nineties from Whitney Houston’s cover of the song ‘I Will Always Love You.’

Dolly also owns several entertainment properties, including Dollywood, hotels and resorts and live-action shows.

She also owns several entertainment properties besides Dollywood — these include the DreamMore Resort and Spa, Smoky Mountain Opry and cabins in the Smoky Mountains.

Despite her huge wealth, Dolly and her husband still live in their Brentwood, California home which they purchased in 1999 for $400,000 (£304,000).

Earlier this month, Dolly reflected on her success while appearing on Apple Music Country’s ‘The Kelleigh Bannen Show’.

She revealed that her mother’s financial advice to her was: “Always keep something back for you.”

The country star added: “You can give what you’ve got, but don’t give it all away.

“I pray also that God will, you know, give me enough to share and enough to spare when it comes to my money, but also to myself.

“Let me share everything I can, but let me keep me.”


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Dolly has also used her fortune for good – she helped fund Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine research, donating $1 million (£724,000).

She told Absolute Radio Country in August last year about what motivated her to support the vaccine research.

Dolly said: “When the pandemic came out, I just felt led to do something because I knew something bad was on the rise and I just wanted to kind of help with that, so I donated to help with that.

“Mine was a small part of course, but I probably get a lot more credit than I deserve but I was happy to be part of that and to be able to try to stop something in its tracks that’s really become such a monster for all of us. I was happy to do that.”

The 10-time Grammy winner also said the guidance has shaped her career, particularly in the beginning, when she was learning how to connect with audiences.

She continued: “Even in the early days, a lot of people told me I should change my look or

nobody’s going to ever take me serious.

“I thought, ‘Yeah, they will, when they see [the talent] I’ve got.’”

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