What Dolly Parton’s Husband Carl Dean Thought of Her Moving to Hollywood

Article Highlights:

  • Dolly Parton reflects on the day she met her husband, Carl Dean
  • In 1981, Parton and Dean were “in a good place”
  • Dean was growing to like Hollywood better
Dolly Parton at the 78th Annual Academy Awards in a pink dress
Dolly Parton | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Dolly Parton met her husband, Carl Dean, on her first day in Nashville. When the “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” singer was interviewed by Playgirl Magazine in 1981, she was asked how their relationship was faring since she started spending more and more time in Hollywood, and less and less time in Nashville. Here’s what she had to say.

The day Dolly Parton met Carl Dean

Parton reflected on the day she met Dean. It was her very first day in Nashville.

“I was at the Laundromat, which was the first one I had ever been to in my life,” she said, as recorded in the book Dolly on Dolly. “I brought dirty clothes from home because I left home the day after I graduated from high school. While my clothes were being washed, I just walked around outside thinking how I was in Nashville and what was I going to live on and this and that. . . and Carl just drove by. He saw me; I guess he liked what he saw. He must have, he married me. He just hollered and waved. And I hollered and waved.”

Parton said it was love at first sight. For their first date, Dean brought Parton over to his mother’s house. They dated for two years before getting married. They’ve been together ever since.

In 1981, Dolly Parton and Carl Dean hadn’t yet spoken about the singer spending more time in Hollywood

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By 1981, Parton was spending a great deal of time in Hollywood. She’d filmed 9 to 5 and had an apartment on the west coast. Even so, she told Playgirl that she and Dean hadn’t discussed her spending more time in Hollywood.

“No, we don’t talk about it,” she said. “Sometimes people muster up stuff before it’s time. We’re in a good place now as far as my career is concerned. It’s almost like we’ve retired in a way. We spend months together out here in the wintertime, then he goes home in the spring when the weather breaks. I don’t demand a lot from Carl, therefore he feels free to give a lot. He doesn’t demand a lot from me, so it excites me to give. We don’t feel obligated, and we never burden each other.”

How Carl Dean felt about Hollywood in 1981

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Initially, Dean was wary of Hollywood. But he became more open to it the more time he spent there.

“He feels better about it because he actually did come on the set [of 9 to 5], and he met a lot of nice people,” said Parton. “It’s so easy to think that everybody in Hollywood is screwed up. Well, that’s not the truth. There are lots of screwed-up people and Hollywood has its share, but there are respectable, family people too. Everybody’s not shattered. And Carl trusts my judgment. He knows I ain’t gonna get in somethin’ I can’t get out of, and he knows that I ain’t gonna get in somethin’ I don’t like, ’cause I won’t stay.”