How Did Dolly Parton Meet Her Best Friend, Judy Ogle?

Though Dolly Parton has a number of celebrity friends, her closest confidant stays out of the spotlight. Parton and her best friend, Judy Ogle, have been close for years. Ogle has been a companion for Parton when she’s on the road, and Parton feels that she can tell her everything. The two women are so close that some have speculated that they’re in a romantic relationship. So, how did Parton and Ogle meet?

Dolly Parton and Judy Ogle wear tan coats and walk outside at night.
Dolly Parton and Judy Ogle | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Dolly Parton never liked school

Parton was born and raised in the Smoky Mountains. She and her siblings would walk roughly two miles to their school, which fit first through eighth-grade students all in the same classroom. Parton was not a fan of her early education. Despite this, she was the first in her family to attend high school because she felt she would need it later in life. She was also never a bad student, just not a dedicated one. 

“I never failed a subject, but I was never a good student,” she told Playboy. “I never studied, I just used my own common sense to get by.”

Overall, she does not look back fondly on her school years.

“I hated it. Even to this day, when I see a school bus, it’s just depressing to me,” she explained. “I think, Those poor little kids having to sit there in the summer days, staring out the window.”

She met her best friend Judy Ogle when they were children

Though Parton didn’t like school, she got to take band class with Ogle. The pair met at school when they were children.

“Judy and I have been best friends for 64 years, since we were little kids,” she told The Sun. “Our ­parents knew each other, we grew up together, we were like ­sisters, became best friends. She was very quiet, I was very outgoing. So we made perfect friends. We went all through school together.”


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Parton shared that she immediately knew that Ogle would be an important part of her life.

“She knows everything it’s humanly possible to know about me. We met when we were around seven,” she explained, per the book Smart Blonde: The Life of Dolly Parton by Stephen Miller. “The day I walked into the schoolroom, our eyes just kinda interlocked. We were just ugly, poor little trashy kids. But that thing within me said, ‘This will be your lifelong friend. This is the one.’ She felt it too.”

Ogle recalled their time together in band class.

“We were assigned a kind of practice period in the band room before regular band practice,” she explained. “We were supposed to use the time to learn how to read music and all that, but we never did.”

Instead, Ogle would write the songs as Parton invented them. 

Judy Ogle helped Dolly Parton through a difficult time

In the 1980s, Parton’s mental and physical health began declining. She tried to keep the truth of her situation from her husband, Carl Dean, but she was open with her manager, Sandy Gallin, and Ogle.

“She makes it possible for me not to need a psychiatrist,” Parton said. 

Parton canceled concert dates and retreated from public life for a time. Throughout all of it, though, Ogle was there to support her.