Who Is Dolly Parton's Husband Carl Thomas Dean? Everything You Need to Know About the Singer's Reclusive Partner of 50 Years

Dolly Parton's longtime husband Carl Thomas Dean famously keeps out of the spotlight

Photo: Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns/Getty


Despite 50 years of marriage to one of America’s most famous – and recognizable – women, Dolly Parton‘s husband is still somewhat of a mystery.

The 73-year-old has been by Parton’s side since 1964 – the year he met the then-18-year-old at Nashville’s Wishy Washy Laundromat. Now, with 50 years of marriage under their belt, Dean will make a public appearance so the couple can renew their vows.

But who is Parton’s reclusive, rarely photographed husband? Before the pair says ‘I do’ – again – here’s everything you need to know.

1. They’re complete opposites!

Opposites really do attract – just ask Dolly.

While Parton, 70, and Dean obviously have enough common ground to last 50 years, the “Jolene” singer still insists their personalities are quite different.

“I married a really good man, a guy that’s completely different from me,” Parton told Parade last year. “He’s not in show business. He’s not resentful of any of that. He loves to hear about the things I do. I love to hear about the things he does. So we enjoy each other’s company. We get along good.”

She also told PEOPLE last March, “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.”

2. He’s a loner.

Parton’s husband likes a life of solitude – even though his wife commands the world stage.

“My husband is a loner,” she told PEOPLE. “He doesn’t particularly care about being around anybody but me. He’s just always asked me to leave him out of all this. He does not like all the hullabaloo.”

But that doesn’t mean Dean’s not supportive of his wife’s so-called “hullabaloo.” She told Parade that Dean’s “very secure within himself,” and never gets jealous of Parton’s stardom – and rotating cast of handsome co-stars.

“This is his statement: ‘Well, hell, I know it’s not easy out there. I’d feel less about any man that didn’t fall in love with you,’ ” she shared.

3. He and Dolly have fun on wheels.

Dean isn’t one for touring, but he does enjoy a life of anonymity on wheels. Parton previously told PEOPLE that they own an RV, a vehicle that allows them to “just be simple.”

While Parton admitted that Dean is somewhat of a homebody, she said he “loves” short escapes.

“We drive through these little drive-through restaurants,” Parton told Parade of the RV adventures. “We sightsee all of Tennessee and Kentucky, the areas that we can get back home from at night. Sometimes we’ll stay over at a Days Inn [motel] where we can just pull up and sneak me in. We don’t care, as long as the bed’s clean and there’s a bathroom. That’s how we live.”

Dolly Parton Dishes on Why Opposites Attract

4. He ran an asphalt-laying company.

For years, Dean ran an asphalt-laying company in Nashville, operating the pavement business as far back as 1977.

At the time, PEOPLE reported that Parton and Dean lived outside of Nashville in a 23-room house – with a mobile home on site for her parents. And, presumably, a beautifully paved driveway.

5. He’s only seen Dolly preform a few times.

Don’t expect to see Dean front row at Parton’s shows – as of 2011, he’d only seen her perform a few times.

“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. 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 gonna punish me for it.”

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