How does Dolly Parton, who’ll turn 75 on Jan. 19 keep up her energy? Aside from eating well and staying fit, “She likes to say a good outlook keeps her young,” a source tells Closer Weekly exclusively, on newsstands now. She also relies on the grounding support of her husband of 54 years, Carl Dean. “Carl is quiet,” the insider shares. “He balances the bigness of her life.”
Sitting on her comfy bed, surrounded by ivory pillows and wearing sky-blue pajamas, Dolly reads stories to kids in her “Good Night With Dolly” YouTube series.
“I love the kids, and when COVID hit and everybody was confined to their homes, I thought, what a wonderful way to read to them and it might relieve their parents a little bit,” Dolly says. “They can [have a] coffee while I’m readin’ to the kids!”
Leave it to Dolly, 74, to offer comfort and support during tough times. Never one to sit still, the legendary country superstar recently gifted $1 million to a COVID-19 research fund, sent out books through her Imagination Library project that’s put 142 million books in the hands of children, and wrote a song, “When Life Is Good Again,” about finding hope in dark days.
“When all this hit and we were all holed up in our houses, I thought, well, I’m not going to sit home and just be afraid,” says the Brentwood, Tennessee–based singer. “It’s not a panicdemic, it’s a pandemic. So I just started being creative and doing what I do best.”
What Dolly does better than most is trust her heart — and her smarts. “I’ve always had a lot of faith. My mother was very strong in her beliefs and my grandpa was a preacher, so I took great nuggets from the Bible like, ‘through God all things are possible,’” Dolly says. “I just stay strong in my faith and in my work ethic.”
That fierce combination has not only made her the female artist with the most No. 1 singles on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart (she’s had 25) — it’s also led her to become a thriving business mogul with a theme park, an Emmy-nominated Netflix series (Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings) and an upcoming line of goods with Williams Sonoma that kicks off this fall — and so much more.
“Dolly always wants to be relevant and up to date,” the insider tells Closer of her constantly evolving projects. “Her desire has always been to span generations.”
She credits her father for inspiring and teaching her. “Even though my daddy didn’t get an education, [he] was really smart in making deals,” Dolly says. She may have also gotten some of her endless energy from her sharecropper dad — and she has no intention of slowing down. “As the Scripture says, ‘To whom much is given, much is required,’” Dolly notes. “I expect it of myself, and I think people expect it of me.” To that end, her philanthropic and entertainment efforts keep on coming. A new album, A Holly Dolly Christmas, featuring duets with Willie Nelson and Michael Bublé, comes out October 2, with a Netflix movie, Christmas on the Square, premiering shortly after.
Dolly’s talent and energy has brought her success, but it’s her big heart that speaks to fans that span generations and the political spectrum. “Everyone sees her as theirs,” says Jad Abumrad, host of the podcast “Dolly Parton’s America.” And Dolly wouldn’t have it any other way. “If I can be an inspiration, then I want to be. That makes me feel good,” she says. “I’m honored that I’m still around. I honestly feel like I’m just getting started!”
Lisa Chambers, with reporting by Rick Egusquiza
For more on David, pick up the latest issue of Closer magazine, on newsstands now.