Dolly Parton has the Midas touch! This summer, the Queen of Country’s new perfume, Dolly: Scent From Above, sold out faster on HSN than any other fragrance in the past decade. But that’s not all. Dolly, with an estimated fortune of $350 million, also recently secured a spot on Forbes’ list of the wealthiest self-made women in the world!
Although Dolly has amassed quite a fortune, that doesn’t mean she is foolish with her cash. “I really like to earn money, and I love to spend it, too,” she confides. “But I spend it on things that I feel that’s needed. I’m not the kind of person that will go out and spend, like, three or four thousand dollars on a coat or one outfit.”
So, what does Dolly splurge on? Well, business expenses like sparkling costumes and her beloved wigs are at the top of the list. “I don’t even know how many wigs I have — I wear one almost every day, so I must have at least 365,” says Dolly, who turns to her hairdresser Cheryl Riddle to make each hairpiece by hand. (Custom wigs made from human hair can cost as much as $5,000 each!).
Dolly doesn’t buy her stage clothes off the rack either. “She loves her clothes, and most are custom-made,” confides a friend. “That is probably where she splurges on herself the most.”
However, the clothes that Dolly typically wears around the Brentwood, Tennessee, estate she shares with husband Carl Dean are more modest. It’s the memory of growing up poor with 11 brothers and sisters that keeps Dolly from wild indulgences. “I know I look like a material girl, but I’m really not. I’ve got clothes that I’ve worn for years,” she insists. “I always think of my daddy or my mama … They could have fed a family of 12 on what I would pay for a coat.”
Dolly made headlines last year by donating $1 million to fund research efforts that led to the Moderna vaccine. “I just felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money that will hopefully grow into something great and help to heal this world,” she said. And that’s not the only investment she’s made that’s benefited others.
“Dolly has always been about giving back, helping the less fortunate,” says the friend, pointing to her work in funding children’s literacy programs and environmental conservation. She has also started several college scholarships for young people living in Sevier County, Tennessee, where she grew up. “She quietly takes care of people,” says the friend, who adds that Dolly’s also very generous with her large family. “She pays for education, schools and tuition, also medical costs of loved ones. She would never reveal who she provides for, but, trust me, she shares her wealth.”
Dolly makes no apologies for having money. She’s proud that she worked hard for every dime, but she also thinks of money as something you use to make the world better rather than something you just keep for yourself. “Money is like the tide: It rolls in and it rolls out. If you clutch it, you are not going to keep it,” she reasons. “With the first money I ever made, I bought my mommy and daddy a car and helped them fix their house up. It seems like the more I give, the more I get, and that is the way it is supposed to go in life.”