Most everyone knows Dolly Parton as a singer and songwriter. You might even recognize her from a few movies. But it is her entrepreneurial endeavors and generosity I feel need more recognition. To put it into today’s terms, she’s a boss!
For example, one of the only things I look forward to receiving in the mail is the monthly children’s book from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. We have been getting free books from this service since our child was born. Our little boy can recite many of the books line by line and the memories created for us are some I’ll never forget.
Just recently, Parton’s Imagination Library delivered it’s 100 millionth free book. Her program has been providing the gift of literacy for more than two decades now. The neat thing about the program is you never know what kind of book will be showing up in the mailbox. Some of them I certainly wouldn’t have purchased by the looks but once you finish reading, they generally turn out to be really good! Can’t judge a book………
Dolly Parton, The Entertainer
Dolly Parton is one of the most famed country music performers of all time. She has 25 Billboard Country Music #1 hits, 41 top ten country albums, nine Grammy awards, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1999.
Parton claims to have written over 3,000 songs. If you haven’t heard “Jolene”, “Coat Of Many Colors”, or “9 to 5” you might be either really young or not like country’ish music. She did go pop for awhile there. But if you haven’t heard of these songs, I can bet you’ve heard of another hit she wrote.
In 1974, Parton wrote the mega hit “I Will Always Love You”. She immediately had interest from Elvis Presley on covering the song. His manager, Colonel Tom Parker, wanted half of the publishing rights for Elvis covering the song. This didn’t go over well with Parton and they didn’t come to terms. This choice resulted in millions of future dollars as Parton described this as one of her first difficult business decisions.
A lot of people confuse this song as Whitney Houston’s when she famously covered it in 1992 for the soundtrack to the movie The Bodyguard. As Parton says with a sense of humor, “That’s fine, she can have the credit, I just want my cash.”
Oh, and she’s been in nearly three dozen films, TV shows, and TV movies generating $300 million at the box office. Her 5 most popular films are:
9 to 5 — $103.3 million
Steel Magnolias — $83.8 million
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas — $69.7 million
Rhinestone — $21.4 million
Straight Talk — $21.2 million
Dolly Parton, The Entrepreneur
A lot of celebrities have big houses and nice cars. But how many do you know own their own theme park?
In 1986, Dolly Parton bought an interest in Silver Dollar City. As part of the deal, the name would change to Dollywood.
Dollywood, located in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, attracts over 3 million visitors each year. Parton’s 295 acre amusement resort also includes Dollywood’s Splash Country (waterpark), Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, and Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction. It has over 40 rides and 15 shows.
Dollywood employs 3,000 people and is estimated to bring in over $600 million annual revenue. A 2013 study formulated the theme park had an economic impact of $1.1 billion.
I’m pretty certain my parents took me to Dollywood as a young child. Since I obviously don’t remember it, I think we need to make a point to take our boy there at some point. For tradition sake.
Philanthropy Is Important To Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton has been involved in many charitable efforts through the years. In 1988, The Dollywood Foundation launched with the initial intention of raising scholarship funds for local high school students of Sevier County High School, where Parton graduated in 1964. With additional sponsorship, the scholarships were expanded to additional schools in the area.
She founded the above mentioned Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 1995. Each enrolled child will receive a monthly book in the mail until age 5. The inspiration to start the library was her father, Robert Lee Parton. He couldn’t read or write as he started working at a young age and didn’t attend school. His struggles motivated Dolly to improve the lives of children all over the world.
She has raised money for the American Red Cross and HIV/AIDS related charities. In 2003, Parton was given a Partnership Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for her efforts to preserve the bald eagle.
In 2006, she pledged $500,000 towards a new hospital and cancer center in the name of the physician who delivered her.
Parton donated to victims of her hometown of Gatlinburg, Tennessee who lost their homes during the terrible wildfires in 2016.
Lessons We Can Learn From Dolly Parton
- The money doesn’t care who makes it. Parton grew up in poverty, “dirt poor” as she says. Her father paid the doctor who delivered her with a bag of cornmeal. She was one of twelve kids who grew up in a room one cabin. Dolly Parton is now worth an estimated $500-900 million.
- Always believe in yourself and know your self worth. Parton was ecstatic to have Elvis cover her song. She excitedly told many of her friends it was happening until she learned of the asking price from Presley’s camp. She declined because she knew the deal didn’t feel right and didn’t want to give up her own intellectual property.
- Be generous and kind. Dolly Parton has no obligation to donate anything to anyone. Yet for many years, she has donated her time and money to various organizations. And her efforts towards child literacy are second to none.
- Value your relationship with your spouse. Dolly Parton and her husband recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They have had their share of ups and downs and tabloid press, but they are still going strong. A 50 year marriage for anyone, not to mention a celebrity, is quite an accomplishment!
- Help out your community. It’s obvious how much Dolly Parton loves her home area in Tennessee. She has infused millions of dollars into her community through Dollywood and her charitable endeavors.
A Thank You
Thank you, Dolly Parton, for making our nightly bedtime routine so enjoyable with our child. As I type this right now, one of the books from your Imagination Library is being read to our child by his grandmother.
What a perfect way to end a lovely Easter with family. We will never forget these memories and the moments you helped create. The books you select are helping our little person become a good human.
We will always love you, Dolly.