A&E’s ‘Biography: Dolly’: Five Things The Documentary Revealed About The Icon

Did you know that Elvis wanted to record "I Will Always Love You?"

A&E’s ‘Biography: Dolly’: Five Things The Documentary Revealed About The Icon
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 1976: Country singer Dolly Parton poses for a portrait in Septemberl 1976 in New York City, New York. (Photo by David Gahr/Getty Images)

A&E launched their country music documentary series last night (4/12) with the first installment featuring the iconic Dolly Parton.

Biography: Dolly gave a glimpse into the singer’s life both on and off the stage. The two-hour special followed Parton’s journey from her poverty-stricken childhood to celebrating the milestone of her 50th Anniversary as a Grand Ole Opry member.

The program opened with Parton and various celebrity friends describing her in just a few words. Parton’s 9 to 5 co-star, Lily Tomlin, gave the comical description, “She is who she is…even though she isn’t.” 

Additional guests on the special included Parton’s other 9 to 5 co-star, Jane Fonda, as well as country artists Chris Stapleton, Lady Antebellum, singer-songwriter Linda Perry, among others.

Here are five things we learned about Dolly after viewing the documentary:

1) Dolly was, and still, is fearless. 

Parton moved from her small Tennessee hometown of Sevierville to Nashville at the age of 18. Musicians in the Music City were immediately drawn to the young performer’s confident singing skills.

Parton shared, “You got to be daring, you got to get outside yourself.” She continued, “I didn’t care. I wasn’t afraid of anybody … I’ll either succeed or I’ll fail.” 

2) Elvis wanted to record Dolly’s song, “I Will Always Love You.” 

Parton, who wrote the song for country singer friend Porter Wagoner, was approached by Elvis’ manager for the publishing rights. Being the brazen businesswoman, she declined the request. 

“It was my most important copyright,” Parton said. “It broke my heart because Elvis didn’t get to sing it, but I had to hold onto it.” Of course, 20 years later the song was turned into a bigger hit by Pop star Whitney Houston.

Even though The King couldn’t record the song, Dolly revealed that Elvis privately serenaded his ex-wife, Priscilla, with the tune as they were leaving the courthouse following their divorce.

3) Dolly used her acrylic nails as a percussion instrument to write the 9 to 5 theme song.

While on-set waiting to film 9 to 5, Parton decided to walk around and look at different scene props for musical inspiration. She said, “I would just walk around on the set and I [would] wear acrylic nails. I thought, ‘I’m just going to play my nails.’” 

Not too long after writing a few lines for the movie’s theme song, Parton performed some of the song for her co-stars. Needless to say, the rest is history.

4) Many people haven’t met Dolly’s husband Carl Dean. 

Against the wishes of her producers, Parton married Dean in 1966, but kept the marriage a secret for a year. 

Most of the musicians who have worked for Parton, have not met the singer’s other half. Fortunately, Fonda assured viewers that Dean is indeed real. The actress has previously stayed at the couples’ Nashville home.

5) Dolly was an early feminist.

Even though Parton hasn’t been a politically outspoken figure, she uses her music to touch on tough subjects. In her 1968 song, “Just Because I’m a Woman,” the lyrics discuss gender inequality.

Parton explained, “It’s really about women taking responsibility for themselves and not wanting to be blamed for everything that happens … and that we can stand up and speak out for ourselves.”