They met in a laundromat, had their first date at his mom's house and bought their wedding rings on a borrowed Sears credit card. Yet Dolly Parton and Carl Dean have been married for 46 years, suggesting that celebs who marry civilians may know the secret to marital longevity.
With recent rumors swirling about Parton having a lesbian relationship with her longtime best friend, the spotlight is once again focusing on the country music star's low-key marriage to a man she met when she was just 18. Though they may live in a 23-room mansion, Carl Dean is not Mr. Dolly Parton. He runs his own road paving company and prefers to keep his private life private.
The writer of "I Will Always Love You" has always seemed more down-to-earth Dolly than celebrity diva, and her humility likely helps her marriage to the one-time Elvis lookalike endure. Asked if she ever thought of divorcing her husband, she said, "Well, there's no perfect marriage, and, no, I've never thought about packing it in. I just kick his ass and go on the road. (Laughs) Or, he'll kick mine and go to the barn. We never argue or bicker back and forth. I've never wanted to be married to anybody but Carl, and even if he died, I don't think I'd ever marry again. I may date or something, but I think he's probably it for me."
As for the lesbian rumors, Parton flatly denies them. She told "Nightline" this week: "Judy and I have been best friends since we were like in the third and fourth grade . . . We still just have a great friendship and relationship and I love her as much as I love anybody in the whole world, but we're not romantically involved."
One reason the lesbian rumors may have had legs, along with those of Parton sleeping with almost every man with whom she has ever appeared on stage, is because her marriage is so private. Far from meaning the relationship is in trouble, the lack of publicity suggests there are no real scandals for the tabloids to "report" so they throw out strands of gossip hoping something will stick.
The curvy blonde is not the only female celebrity who has found happiness with a non-famous husband.
Marcia Cross is married in real life to stockbroker Tom Mahoney. Their marriage was tested when Mahoney was diagnosed with cancer almost four years ago, but happily his disease is now in remission. Before they were married, the red-headed actress, who played Bree on "Desperate Housewives," told People magazine she knew he was "a keeper" because he played word games with her in bed the night before the Emmy nominations were announced to keep her calm and distracted.
Tina Fey, another actress who hooked up with a mortal, enjoys a marriage that appears healthier than most celebrity relationships. Like Parton, Fey avoids Hollywood, living in New York City with her music composer husband Jeff Richmond. Though he has written music for her show and done some acting and directing, Fey is the household name in the marriage and that seems to work just fine for this couple. The dad of his and the comedienne's two daughters describes his marriage as "borderline boring-in a good way." Unlike the musical beds of some Hollywood couples, the former "SNL" star and her spouse have an understanding around adultery. "There's not a lot of gray area in being flirty with somebody," said Richmond. "She's very black-and-white: 'We're married-you can't.'"
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