Inside Dolly Parton’s mysterious open marriage to husband Carl Dean as she dresses up as Playboy Bunny for his birthday
DOLLY Parton has been with her husband Carl Dean for 55 years – and celebrated his recent birthday by dressing as a sexy Playboy bunny.
The 75-year-old Jolene singer bared her cleavage in a low cut black top and matching bunny ears, similar to the outfit she wore for the Playboy cover 43 years ago.
In a video shared on Instagram, Dolly said: "Remember some time back I said I was gonna pose on Playboy Magazine when I was 75?
"Well, I’m 75 and they don’t have a magazine anymore, but my husband always loved the original cover of Playboy, so I was trying to think of something to do to make him happy.
“He still thinks I’m a hot chick after 57 years and I’m not gonna try to talk him out of that. And I hope he agrees. What do you think?”
She added: “Happy birthday my love!”
Despite Dolly's superstardom, Carl – who used to own an asphalt business – keeps a much lower profile.
Here we look at their love story and inside their "open" relationship…
Love outside the laundromat
Dolly has been with Carl Thomas Dean for more than 55 years.
The pair met outside their local laundromat in Nashville on the first day the singer moved to the famous music city in 1964.
Dolly was 18 while Carl was 21 at the time.
“We actually met the first day I moved to Nashville,” Dolly told TV talk show Home & Family. “I was 18 years old, 1964.
“I had taken some dirty clothes in a rush to get to Nashville. I was down at the Wishy Washy laundromat. I had put my clothes in the laundry in this machine and I was all new in Nashville to stay.
“I was walking around on the street and this good looking guy drove by and he said something to me like ‘Hey, you gonna get sunburned out there,’ or something. I said ‘What’s it to you?’ or something like that.”
She continued: “He pulled over and we started talking. I was actually babysitting at the time and so we talked. I told him where I was staying. I said ‘Well, you come buy tomorrow and we’ll talk.’
“So he came by a couple of days, we sat out on the fire escape where I was babysitting the little boy and we had a first date.
“He took me home to his mama very first time.”
And it was love at first sight for Carl.
“My first thought was I’m gonna marry that girl,” he said on Dolly's official website, recalling the meeting.
“My second thought was, ‘Lord she’s good lookin.’ And that was the day my life began.”
Desperate to marry
The couple tied the knot two years later on May 30, 1966 in Ringgold, Georgia, shortly before Dolly released her first album.
Dolly planned to have a big wedding but it didn’t turn out that way, and her mother was the only witness.
Her record label wanted her to wait a year before getting married since it was just starting to invest in her career, but Dolly was adamant.
The couple went across the Tennessee state line and found a little Baptist church where they were married in a small ceremony.
“My mother made me a little white dress, a little bible with a little flowers,” said Dolly. “Brother Don Duvall was the reverend then, he’s passed away now. We go back to Ringgold every year on our anniversary, as a rule.”
An 'open' relationship
Dolly has admitted she and Carl have an "open" relationship – although never in a sexual way.
And she insists she's never been with anyone else but her husband.
In Dolly on Dolly, Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton, the country star explained: "Men are my weakness.
"Short, fat, bald or skinny – I’ve had crushes on some very unusual men but Carl knows I’ll always come home and I’m not having sex with these people – I’m just flirting and having fun.
"He’s not jealous and I’m not jealous of him. He knows I flirt. He flirts too."
She continued: "Yes, it’s an open relationship, but not sexually and I would kill him if I thought he was doing that.
"He would shoot me too. At the end of the day we love each other madly."
In fact, one of Dolly's famous songs, Jolene, was about a woman who flirted outrageously with Carl – and she says he spent a "little too much time" with her so she had to put an end to it.
Renewing their vows
Dolly eventually got the big wedding she dreamed of in 2016, when the pair marked their 50th wedding anniversary.
"We're going to get married again!" Dolly gushed to People ahead of their vow renewal.
"I'll have a beautiful wedding dress, 'cause I didn't have a big long wedding dress when we got married, and we've got a suit for him, so we're going to dress up and take a bunch of pictures."
Keeping out of the limelight
A key to Dolly and Carl’s enduring relationship is that they keep their relationship out of the limelight.
And Carl – who is now retired – rarely accompanies his wife to events.
In fact, he’s only ever seen Dolly perform a few times over the years as he “gets nervous” watching her.
"No, he doesn't like to do that," Dolly told Ellen DeGeneres. "He gets nervous seeing me perform.
“It's almost like seeing your kid in a recital. He's afraid I'll mess up.”
She continued: “Actually, he has seen me a time or two and it did relax him a little.
“He saw that I do mess up and it's OK because people are not going to punish me for it."
No children and no regrets
Dolly and Carl never had any children – despite the fact that they did both want them.
In 2014, she confessed: “Early on, when my husband and I were dating, and then when we got married, we just assumed we would have kids.
“We weren't doing anything to stop it. In fact, we thought maybe we would.
“We even had names if we did, but it didn't turn out that way.”
However, she’s now happy she never got the chance to become a mum.
She added: “Now that Carl and I are older, we often say, ‘Aren't you glad we didn't have kids? Now we don't have kids to worry about.’”
And in 2017, the country singer – who is godmother to Miley Cyrus – said: “God has a plan for everything. I think it probably was his plan for me not to have kids so everybody's kids could be mine.
“And they are now.”
What a lovely relationship Dolly and Carl have…
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