Dolly Parton Opens Up About Faith After The "Affair Of The Heart" That Nearly Ended Her Life

Dolly Parton may be the Queen of Country music, but her road to super stardom was very rocky.

The "Jolene" singer and her family, including 11 siblings, lived in poverty in a one-room cabin in Sevier County, Tennessee.

The family was in such a bad financial situation that they weren't even able to see a doctor when one of them got sick or injured.

During a recent appearance on the Dr. Oz Show, Parton recalled the details of an accident she suffered when she was "probably about six or seven" that almost cost her a foot. Since she wasn't able to go to a hospital, her mom put cornmeal and kerosene on it then sewed the gash shut.

"They put kerosene on it for antiseptic and momma took her sewing needles — she used to make our quilts and stuff, and she literally had to sew my toes back on. But they worked and they healed and I’m still walking on them."


Despite all the hardships, Parton has previously stated that she wouldn't change a thing about her childhood because it shaped the person she is today and influenced her music.

"I think my childhood made me everything I am today," she told Entertainment Tonight. "I would trade nothing for being brought up in the Great Smoky Mountains. I've never been ashamed of my people, no matter how poor or dirty we might have been. I've always loved being from where I am, and having the folks that I've had."

While growing up wasn't a walk in the park for the country crooner, there was another struggle she encountered later in life that took an even bigger toll on her.  

In the book published in 2017 titled Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton, the ups and downs of the singer's relationship with her husband Carl Dean were discussed.

However, it was the icon admitting that she had an "affair of the heart" that took everyone by surprise.


Parton and Dean met while she was at a laundromat on her first day in Nashville when she just 18 years old.

Dean drove by in his white Chevy pickup, and stopped to tell his future wife that the outfit she was wearing would make it easy for her to get a sunburn.

"My first thought was I'm gonna marry that girl," Dean said in a statement for the couple's 50th wedding anniversary in 2016. "My second thought was, 'Lord she's good lookin'. And that was the day my life began. I wouldn't trade the last 50 years for nothing on this earth."

The pair began started dating soon after, and two years later, 20-year-old Parton and 23-year-old Dean, tied the knot in Georgia on Memorial Day 1966.

For nearly 20 years, the couple remained happy and in love, or so we thought.

According to the unauthorized book, Parton supposedly had an affair with her band leader Gregg Perry in the 1980s.

The singer was so filled with guilt and heartbreak about the situation that she "found herself eyeing her gun" to end her life.

“I was sitting upstairs in my bedroom one afternoon when I noticed in the nightstand drawer my gun that I keep for burglars. I looked at it a long time," Parton said.

She continued, "Then, just as I picked it up, just to hold it and look at it for a moment, our little dog, Popeye, came running up the stairs,” she reportedly said. “The tap-tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to reality. I kinda believe Popeye was a spiritual messenger from God.”

Country Living

The "I Will Always Love You" singer said she didn't think she would've actually gone through with it, but the power of prayer helped her come out of the dark place she was in.

"I kinda believe Popeye was a spiritual messenger from God," she continued. "I don't think I'd have done it, killed myself, but I can't say for sure. Now that I've gone through that terrible moment, I can certainly understand the possibilities, even for someone solid like me, if the pain gets bad enough."

While the affair left Parton in a weak emotional and mental state, it didn't break up her marriage. She and Dean were able to work out their differences and renew their vows  on their 50th anniversary in 2016.

"He's a deep person, but he has a great and warped sense of humor," Parton said. "He makes me laugh and entertains me. He's very secure within himself."

Country Living Magazine

The couple do not have any children, but that's a choice they made a very long time ago. In 1984, the singer underwent a partial hysterectomy and was told she'd never be able to bear children.

Patron admitted that the timing of the surgery and the affair, put her further into depression, but she was able to come out on top.

"It was a really bad time," she said. "Sometimes God just has to smack you down," she said of the message from above. "He was almost saying, 'Sit your pretty little ass down because we have to deal with some stuff!'"

Parton said that she "would have been a great mother" because she "would have probably have given everything else" to focus on raising her children. Ironically, this was also the same reason that stopped her from being a mother.

"Now that Carl and I are older, we often say, "Aren't you glad we didn't have kids?" she told Billboard. "Now we don't have kids to worry about...Everything would have changed. I probably wouldn't have been a star."


While Parton loves to gush about her husband whenever she gets the chance to, they've only been spotted in public a handful of times, and that's because of a promise she made to him after they got married.

After accompanying Parton to a red carpet event, the notoriously private Dean said on the drive home, "Dolly, I want you to have everything you want, and I'm happy for you, but don't you ever ask me to go to another one of them dang things again!"

Staying away from the media hoopla and giving each other space are just two of the secrets to their long-lasting union.

"You can't be in each other's face all the time," Parton told the Taste of Country. "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."

Their faith has also played a role in keeping them together, and now the couple have their own chapel on their farm in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Even though it hasn't been an easy journey, Parton said "If I had it to do all over, I'd do it all over again, and we did. I'm dragging him kicking and screaming into the next 50 years."

We're so glad Parton was able to recover from depression and save her marriage.

If you'd like to know more about Dolly Parton, check out:

12 Facts About Dolly Parton That Prove She's A Living Legend