Dolly Parton is quick to share family stories that range from humorous to heartwarming. According to her sister, Stella, not all these stories are grounded in reality. Stella shared that sometimes Parton will tell stories for good press, even if they’re not true. She shared one particular instance where Parton manufactured the truth.
Dolly Parton grew up with 11 siblings
Parton grew up in a large Tennessee family as the fourth of 12 children. The children relied on each other for fun which, for the Parton family, included music.
“Singing was like breathing at home,” Parton’s sister Rachel told People.
Because Parton’s mother, Avie Lee Owens, had her hands full with her children, she enlisted the older ones to take care of the younger ones.
“There were so many of us that we, each older one, had to take care of the others,” Parton told Home & Family. “Mom was just having one baby. There was only 18 months to two years difference in our ages. So as the kids started multiplying mom would say, ‘Well this one’s going to be your baby.’”
Because of this, the siblings had a close relationship.
Her sister Stella says Parton sometimes favors a good story over the truth
While the family is tight-knit, they weren’t without their problems. Parton’s mother and sisters would take a holiday trip every year that they would take turns planning. Parton always spoke warmly about the trips, but Stella took a different view.
“It was always a fiasco,” she said in the book Smart Blonde: Dolly Parton by Stephen Miller. “Always hated them, only survived two or three of them and then I decided not to go anymore.”
When Miller pointed out the sisters’ contradicting views on these trips, Stella explained that Parton doesn’t always tell the press the whole truth.
“Oh she’s full of crap,” Stella said. “Yeah, anybody that can write that many songs can make up a lot of stuff … she’s got an imagination that won’t quit.”
Stella went on to give an example of a time one of Parton’s stories didn’t line up with reality.
“I have read that we went shopping and I’ve seen it in Good Housekeeping that we shopped in New York and she’s never taken me to New York shopping, ever, so I called her up and I said, ‘What the heck is this? We went shopping, where’s my stuff … I mean that’s all baloney,’” she explained. “She said, ‘I’ll get it for you later. It sounds good in the press you know.’”
Stella has helped Dolly Parton with her music collection
Though Stella was quick to call out her older sister, there’s no love lost between the two. Stella explained that she took several years to help Parton organize her publishing catalog.
“I took three years out of my career to make sure that her publishing catalog, every one of her songs, was cleaned up, and all of her lyric sheets and lead sheets and the publishing and copyrighting and everything was brought up to par, because 100 years from now people may not remember me but they’ll go back into the files and they’ll find a Dolly Parton song and say, ‘This is what this woman did.’ I felt it was important that someone who knew her as well as I do and who was a musician as well, did that for her.”
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