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'Biography: Dolly': How Dolly Parton met her husband Carl Thomas Dean, the mysterious man behind the scenes

Carl Dean has preferred to stay out of the limelight while remaining a bedrock of support and encouragement to his free-spirited country diva wife
Carl Dean and Dolly Parton (A&E)
Carl Dean and Dolly Parton (A&E)

The A&E network recently unveiled their latest documentary on Sunday night, April 12, titled 'Biography: Dolly', which focused on the life of country music legend Dolly Parton, including some behind-the-scenes looks at what made the multi-faceted female icon so successful. One of the biggest takeaways from the documentary was the relationship that Parton shared with her elusive husband of 54 years, Carl Thomas Dean. Dean is rarely seen in the public eye, so this was a chance to get some interesting tidbits on how their mysterious relationship started out. 

Carl Dean and Dolly first met on Dolly Parton's very first day in Nashville, Tennessee. As a fresh-faced 18-year-old straight out of high school at the time, Dolly revealed that she had met Dean outside a local laundromat called the Wishy Washy Washateria. He had charmingly gone out of his way to tell her she was going to get sunburned, and they just gelled immediately and kept chatting away. Carl Dean worked as an asphalt contractor back then and revealed his initial impressions on their first meeting 50 years later: “My first thought was, ‘I’m gonna marry that girl.’ 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." 

Dolly Parton attends a press conference before a performance celebrating her 50-year anniversary with the Grand Ole Opry at The Grand Ole Opry on October 12, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee (Getty Images)

Ever the free spirit, Dolly and Dean decided to get married in secret once Dean left the army two years after they met, in 1966. Although her record label would oppose it, preferring to market her as a single gal, Dolly knew she had to follow her heart regardless. “Dolly was not looking for a husband when she came to Nashville. She was looking for a career. Her producers also did not want her to get married and she went ahead and did it anyway because when Dolly wants to do something, I think she does it,” said her biographer Lydia Hamessley. “She kept the marriage a secret for a year, but I think that was very clever because she demonstrated to her producers that she could have a marriage and still be successful.”

Meanwhile, fans can't stop gushing over the couple on social media. "This is just a straight-up great looking couple. Who wouldn't want to lock this down for 50+ years? Dolly Parton & Carl Dean," said one fan.

Another viewer posted, "Dolly Parton has the sweetest man in this world - Dolly Parton and Carl Dean are a good pair. I love Dolly Parton so much." Others tweeted, "Dolly Parton and Carl Dean! They’ve been together forever showing us what true love is." We couldn't agree more.