Dolly Parton’s Family Was ‘Treated Like Crap’ After She Became Successful

To many, Dolly Parton is considered something of a national treasure. Her warmth and humor draw in a wide-ranging group of fans, and she continues to work on projects that bring in more admirers. At one time, though, Parton was the subject of many rumors that brought her hurtful comments. What she found more upsetting, though, was the fact that her parents and siblings were the target of similar treatment. Her sister explained that they were treated poorly by the public, and even people in their hometown, after Parton’s success.

Dolly Parton grew up in Tennessee

Parton was one of 12 children who all lived together in their family’s one-bedroom home. The family was poor – her parents paid the doctor who delivered Parton with cornmeal – but they were happy. The family spent a good deal of time in their grandfather’s church, where Parton and her siblings honed their musical ability.

“I have – there’s 12 of us kids, six girls and six boys, and we all sing and write and play,” she told NPR. “It’s just that I think I’ve taken it farther. I don’t know that I’m near as good as some of the others, but I’ve been more willing to sacrifice and work a little harder than some of the others might have been willing, you know, to do just because they wanted to have a family and do other things.”

Her family said that people in their hometown treated them poorly after she became famous

Parton hit her big break when she became a regular on The Porter Wagoner Show. She recorded music and performed with him, making her a rising star in country music. With that newfound success came disparaging comments about her in the media. While this happens to many celebrities, Parton’s family also began to be targeted.

“We’ve been treated like crap … by the public, especially people in my hometown, other poor people who are jealous and think we have it made so they make our lives harder,” Parton’s sister Stella said, as reported in the book Smart Blonde: Dolly Parton by Stephen Miller.

According to Miller, Parton’s parents began receiving threats and phone calls passing on lies about Parton and her siblings getting hurt or killed in accidents. They also dealt with break-ins. After a while, they began to feel nervous whenever an unfamiliar vehicle approached their home.

Dolly Parton’s family is very important to her

Parton found this treatment particularly disturbing because she is so close with her family. Parton tried to give back to her parents as much as she could as a way to thank them for raising her. She’s also formed bonds with her nieces and nephews, as well as their children.

“I grew up in a big old family with eight kids younger than me and several of my brothers and sisters came to live with me early on in my life,” she told People. “I’ve loved their kids just like they’re my grandkids, and now I’ve got great-grand-kids!”

Her nieces and nephews refer to her as Aunt Granny and her husband as Uncle PeePaw.

“Now I’m GeeGee, which is great-granny,” she said. “I often think, it just wasn’t meant for me to have kids so everybody’s kids can be mine.”

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