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Dolly Parton, who turns 76 on Jan. 19, 2022, has spent the majority of her life as a global celebrity. The country singer began her rise to success in 1967 with the release of her debut studio albumHello, I’m Dolly. Since then, practically all her adult birthdays have passed with Parton as a famous singer. She shared that in her favorite birthday memory, however, she hadn’t quite reached this level of success. She hadn’t even moved to Nashville. Parton described why turning 18 is her favorite birthday memory.

Dolly Parton wears a white shirt with silver jewels and holds her hands above her head.
Dolly Parton | Tabatha Fireman/Redferns via Getty Images

Dolly Parton’s parents paid the doctor who delivered her with cornmeal

Parton grew up in a small community in the Smoky Mountains. They were so far from the nearest hospital that a missionary doctor had to come to their house whenever anyone needed medical attention.

“We didn’t have roads where people could come in and out, and no hospitals nearby,” she told USA Today. “We had a missionary doctor that had been sent to the Smoky Mountains to take care of the poor mountain people.”

When Parton was born, her parents couldn’t afford to pay the doctor, so they gave him what they had on hand. Like many of their neighbors, they made payments with goods instead of money.

“Mama was having problems with me, so Daddy had to run out and get (the doctor),” she said. “They came back on horseback and Daddy paid him with a sack of cornmeal, and I’ve always joked and said that I’ve been raking in the dough ever since.”

She shared her favorite birthday memory

All throughout her childhood, Parton dreamed of becoming a singer. She began writing songs from a young age and would perform impromptu concerts on the porch for anyone who would listen. When she was 10, Parton’s Uncle Bill took her to Knoxville to audition for the Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour. Her performance went over so well that she sang the same song more than once for the cheering audience. She would ultimately score a spot on the show.

“I think they like me,” she told her uncle, per the book Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics. “I think I might could be a star.”

This was the beginning of Parton’s career as a musician, but she knew she had to move to Nashville to really make it big. This is why she looked forward to her 18th birthday.

“Probably the best birthday I ever had was when I turned 18, because I had been traveling back and forth to Nashville all those years before, and I knew my Daddy would send a posse after me if I left before I was 18,” she wrote on her official website.

After her 18th birthday and high school graduation, Parton moved to Nashville to pursue music full-time.

Dolly Parton recreated her Playboy cover shoot for her husband’s birthday

Years later, Parton celebrated her husband Carl Thomas Dean’s birthday in spectacular fashion. She recreated her iconic 1978 Playboy photoshoot for Dean, who always liked the pictures. She dressed up in the Playboy Bunny outfit and gifted Dean a photo of the 1978 cover next to the recreation.


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“I was trying to think of something to do to make him happy,” Parton said. “He still thinks I’m a hot chick after 57 years and I’m not gonna try to talk him out of that.”