Dolly Parton + Carl Dean — Country’s Greatest Love Stories
Dolly Parton is larger than life. She's a superstar through and through, with a radiant personality, flashy style and penchant for always looking camera ready -- and her husband, Carl Thomas Dean, is the exact opposite.
In fact, Dean "doesn't like to be seen," Parton told Ellen DeGeneres in 2011 (hence why the photo to accompany this story is of Parton only). Knowing that, Dean and Parton sound like an absolute mismatch, but their love story is as unique as the singer herself.
On May 30, 1966, Parton and Dean walked down the aisle in Ringgold, Ga., just two years after they met. And they met ... at the Wishy Washy Laundromat. Parton had moved to Nashville that day and was doing her laundry when Dean drove by in his white Chevy pickup truck -- and then drove by again for a second look.
The couple was young when they married: She was 20, and he was 23. And more than half a century later, they are still together.
"They say that opposites attract, and it's true," Parton tells People. "We're completely opposite, but that's what makes it fun. I never know what he's gonna say or do. He's always surprising me. "
Though she's a self-proclaimed flirt, Parton attests to her deep commitment to marriage.
“He knows I’m a flirt and a tease, but it’s harmless,” says the "Jolene" singer. “I’ve never met the man that would take his place.”
Parton has talked openly about her love for travel and excitement, while Dean prefers staying out of the limelight and settling in at home.
"People always wanna know the secret. I always say, 'I stay gone! Stay apart.' You can’t be in each other’s face all the time," Parton jokes. "Actually, I think that has been the best formula for us, the fact that we appreciate each other when we are together. We don’t have to be together all the time."
Parton and Dean are both very independent people, and they're also, quite simply, best friends, which Parton believes "is the key to most all relationships that last a long time. You’ve gotta be great friends."
Though Parton is the world's entertainer, Dean is his wife's personal entertainer.
"He's a deep person, but he has a great and warped sense of humor," she says. "He makes me laugh and entertains me. He's very secure within himself."
Dean has only seen his wife in concert a time or two, and after attending an event with her early on in their marriage, he decided he never wanted to repeat that experience.
Parton and Dean are certainly opposites in many ways, but their 50-plus years together prove that something's working. It's unconventional, but then again, so is Parton.
In 2016, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, Parton and Dean renewed their wedding vows with a ceremony in Nashville -- the wedding they didn't have the first time around. Parton offered the photos from the event up to the highest bidder, with the money going to children's charities.