HOW DOES DOLLY PARTON EARN HER MONEY?
jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG Saturday 21st May 2022
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Queen of country music, and so much more…
With 25 singles that have topped the country charts, 11 Grammys (not to mention 50 Grammy nominations), and an Emmy Award to her name, Dolly Parton has been in the spotlight for over five decades. According to Forbes, her long and lucrative career has earned her a staggering $350 million (£267.4m) fortune, making her one of America’s richest self-made women.
But the Queen of Nashville isn’t solely reliant on her music to make money. Read on to take a look inside Parton’s sprawling entertainment empire and discover how she earns and spends her cash. All dollar amounts in US dollars unless otherwise stated.
Megabucks from music
With over 100 million records sold worldwide, it goes without saying that Parton has made a fortune from her music. However, it was one business-savvy decision early on in her career that really set her up for success.
In 1966, one year before the release of her debut album Hello, I’m Dolly, Parton and her uncle, the late songwriter Bill Owens (pictured), founded the Owe-Par Publishing Company. Bar a few of her tracks, Parton owns all of her music publishing rights via Owe-Par.
Parton estimates she has written around 3,000 songs, including country music chart-toppers like Jolene, 9 to 5, and I Will Always Love You. According to Forbes, Parton’s music catalogue is worth around $150 million (£114.6m), with the singer-songwriter raking in between $6 million (£4.6m) and $8 million (£6.1m) each year from royalties.
In fact, the shrewd songstress was so determined to hold onto her music catalogue that when Elvis Presley asked to cover I Will Always Love You in the 1970s, she refused. Why? Because Presley’s manager wanted her to sign over half of the publishing rights to the track, something Parton simply wasn’t willing to do.
It proved to be a wise move. When Whitney Houston covered the track almost two decades later, Parton retained the publishing rights and raked in a fortune. She told Country Music Television in 2006 that when Houston’s version was released, she “made enough money to buy Graceland”. (Graceland being Presley’s former home in Memphis, which around 650,000 Elvis fans still flock to each year.)
Instead, Parton poured some of the proceeds into a Black community in Nashville.
Dollars from Dollywood
The country crooner ventured into theme parks in 1986, partnering with Herschend Family Entertainment to convert its Silver Dollar City amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee into Dollywood.
Featuring Southern-themed restaurants, a theatre that can host over 1,700 people, and the Smoky Mountain River Rampage raft ride, Parton’s star power drew 1.3 million visitors to the park in its debut season alone. This marked an impressive 75% increase over Silver Dollar City’s season the previous year.
Today, Dollywood is Tennessee’s most popular tourist attraction, drawing in around three million visitors each year. According to Forbes, Parton’s 50% stake in the park is worth around $165 million (£126.2m).
Dollywood has continuously expanded since opening its doors in 1986. It’s spent $110 million (£84.2m) on new additions over the years, including investment in the nearby Splash Country Water Park and DreamMore Resort & Spa. Parton is a co-owner of both, with her respective stakes in the businesses estimated to be worth a cool $20 million (£15.3m) and $15 million (£11.5m).
And that’s not all. The park is currently building a new hotel, Dollywood’s HeartSong Lodge and Resort, which is slated to open in 2023. This glitzy new expansion is the first of a $500 million (£383m), 10-year investment plan for the park.
The multi-talented Parton is a star of the screen as well as the stage. Her first film role dates all the way back to 1980, when she co-starred in the comedy 9 to 5 (pictured) with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Since then, she’s racked up an impressive filmography that spans TV and cinema.
This includes the 1984 musical-comedy movie Rhinestone, which she featured in with Sylvester Stallone, as well as the 2015 made-for-TV flick Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, which was based on Parton’s early life. She’s even lent her star power to Disney’s Hannah Montana, appearing in episodes as “Aunt Dolly” alongside her famous goddaughter, Miley Cyrus.
In 2018, Parton signed a major deal with Netflix to produce and star in original content for the streaming platform. This includes the 2019 Emmy-nominated anthology series Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings, as well as the 2020 Emmy-winning movie Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square.
While it’s unknown how much the country starlet received from Netflix, it’s safe to assume it was a sizeable sum. While appearing on the talk show Mr. Nashville Talks in February 2022, she noted that the best things about collaborating with the streaming giant were that they “pay good” and give her creative control over her projects.
Parton also rakes in a fortune from her product lines. In 2019, she inked a multi-year partnership with licencing business IMG to expand her brand into consumer products. Releases so far include a bakeware collaboration with Duncan Hines (pictured), and a festive-themed collection for cookware brand Williams Sonoma.
And that’s just the tipping point. The music icon plans to expand her lifestyle brand to include everything from clothes to homeware. Announcing her partnership with IMG in May 2019, Parton tweeted: “I am excited to be working with IMG on a global scale to give my fans products that they will cherish for years to come. You might even see my mug on a mug!”
Parton’s debut fragrance Scent From Above was launched in summer 2021.and became the fastest-selling perfume in a decade on the shopping site HSN when it launched in July 2021.
If that isn’t enough to demonstrate Parton’s unstoppable selling power, Scent From Above also achieved the highest-ever single-day sales that HSN had ever
The multi-talented musician also recently teamed up with acclaimed fiction writer James Patterson to co-author the thriller novel Run, Rose, Run. A heart-tugging tale about a young country singer trying to pursue her dreams while harbouring a dark secret, the book instantly became a number one bestseller upon its March 2022 release.
In the same month, Parton released a companion album to the book that was also titled Run, Rose, Run. Unsurprisingly, that was also a hit, peaking at number 4 on the US Top Country Albums chart and taking top spot on the UK Country Albums chart.
Production company Hello Sunshine, which was founded by Hollywood star Reese Witherspoon, is now set to transform the Run, Rose, Run novel into a major movie. Both Parton and Patterson will serve as producers on the film alongside Witherspoon, and Parton is also tipped to have a starring role.
Parton said at the time: “I’m proud, excited, and honoured to be working with my good friend Reese Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine on the movie of Run, Rose, Run, from the novel I co-wrote with James Patterson. James and I love Reese and look forward to working with her and her wonderful team”.
Now that we’ve uncovered how Dolly Parton amassed her enormous fortune, let’s take a look at how the country queen likes to splash her cash…
Dolly Parton lives in a rather humble abode for someone who has $350 million (£267.4m) in the bank. The Southern belle and her husband, Carl Dean, bought their 3,324-square-foot (300-square-metre) mansion in Brentwood, Tennessee for just $400,000 (£305.3K) back in 1999.
While perhaps modest in terms of other celebrity homes, Parton’s house still boasts a tennis court, a swimming pool, multiple gazebos, and even an on-site chapel. In 2018, Parton posted a clip on her Instagram of herself and long-time friend Reese Witherspoon having a conversation in her kitchen (pictured), offering fans a rare glimpse into her home.
Parton also once owned a house in Hollywood, California. Presumably used as a base while working on her various projects in Tinseltown, she snapped up the homely-looking 1,091 square-foot (101-square-metre) property, pictured, for $1.2 million (£916.3k) in 2007.
She later broke even on the country-chic property, selling it in 2014 for $1.4 million (£1m).
Glitz and glam
If there’s one thing Parton likes to splurge on, it’s her glitzy appearance. One particular area she loves to spend out on is her hair. She once famously observed: “I don’t know how many wigs I have. I wear one every day, so I must have at least 365”.
Her hairstylist Cheryl Riddle creates each show-stopping hairpiece by hand; custom wigs made with human hair typically cost around $5,000 (£3.8k) a pop.
As well as wigs, Parton spares no expense when it comes to her clothes. According to reports, the majority of her rhinestone-adorned garments are custom-made just for her.
Parton, who once denied being a “material girl”, isn’t blind to the outrageous amounts of money she spends on outfits and, unlike some stars, will happily rewear an outfit. “I’ve got clothes that I’ve worn for years,” she once said. “I always think of my daddy or my mama… They could have fed a family of 12 on what I would pay for a coat.”
Born on the banks of the Little Pigeon River, Tennessee, Dolly Parton is the fourth of twelve children born to tobacco farmer Robert Lee Parton and homemaker Avie Lee Parton. She once described her family as “dirt poor”, and their financial struggles are major themes in her hit songs, including Coat of Many Colors.
Despite her rags-to-riches journey, the Southern sweetheart has never forgotten her humble roots. It’s been reported that Parton shares her huge fortune with her large extended family, paying for expenses such as tuition fees, and medical costs. Parton is pictured here with her mother and 11 siblings.
Upon “making it”, generous Dolly also ensured that her late parents, Robert and Avie (pictured), were well looked after.
She once said: “Money is like the tide: it rolls in and it rolls out. If you clutch it, you are not going to keep it. With the first money I ever made, I bought my mommy and daddy a car and helped them fix their house. It seems like the more I give, the more I get, and that is the way it is supposed to go in life”.
Dolly’s huge heart
Dolly’s big heart extends beyond her family too. A famed philanthropist, she’s funded everything from children’s literacy programmes to environmental conservation. Her Imagination Library organisation gives free books to children all over the world from birth until the age of five, and is funded by Parton and community partners in America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland.
Her Dollywood Foundation also tackles a number of issues, including the high school drop-out rates in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee. The organisation’s “Buddy Foundation” gifts $500 (£380) to every student who completes high school. A huge success, it had lowered the drop-out rate from 35% to 6% by 2017.
According to the experts, the only reason why the big-hearted national treasure hasn’t reached billionaire status is because she has given so much of her money away.
Most recently, Parton donated $1 million (£912.9k) to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to aid its research into COVID-19. It was later revealed that her generous gift helped to fund the lifesaving Moderna vaccine. In a bid to encourage people to get the vaccine, Parton filmed herself getting hers, humorously singing: “Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, I’m begging of you please don’t hesitate,” to the tune of her hit single Jolene.
TOP TWENTY OF THE DAY
Dolly Parton’s Top 20 most-streamed songs in the UK
TITLE ARTIST YEAR
1 9 TO 5 DOLLY PARTON 1981
2 JOLENE DOLLY PARTON 1976
3 ISLANDS IN THE STREAM DOLLY PARTON & KENNY ROGERS 1983
4 HERE YOU COME AGAIN DOLLY PARTON 1984
5 I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU DOLLY PARTON 1974
6 FAITH GALANTIS/DOLLY PARTON/MR PROBZ 2019
7 COAT OF MANY COLOURS DOLLY PARTON 1971
8 CUDDLE UP COZY DOWN CHRISTMAS DOLLY
PARTON & MICHAEL BUBLE 2020
9 SILVER THREADS AND GOLDEN NEEDLES
DOLLY PARTON 1993
10 TWO DOORS DOWN DOLLY PARTON 1978
11 LOVE IS LIKE A BUTTERFLY DOLLY PARTON 1974
12 BABY IM BURNING DOLLY PARTON 1978
13 JOLENE PENTATONIX FT DOLLY PARTON 2017
14 DUMB BLONDE DOLLY PARTON 1967
15 WHY’D YOU COME IN HERE LOOKIN’ LIKE THAT
DOLLY PARTON 1989
16 MY TENNESSEE MOUNTAIN HOME DOLLY PARTON 1973
17 HERE I AM DOLLY PARTON 1971
18 THE BARGAIN STORE DOLLY PARTON 1975
19 APPLEJACK DOLLY PARTON 1977
20 BLUE SMOKE DOLLY PARTON 2014
REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
– Nicolas Chamfort
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY
It’s not what we have in life but who we have in our life that matters. – Margaret Laurence
GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY
Can February March? No, but April May!
Love is…partners for life.
A time for I Will Always Love you…A time for Islands in the Stream.
©2022 Phil M Robinson