Dolly Parton Opens Up About Rumors That Her Sister Rachel Is Actually Her Daughter

Dolly Parton’s path to fame started in a humble cabin nestled in the breathtaking expanse of the Great Smoky Mountains. The legendary country musician is renowned for her vocal prowess, songwriting skills, and acting talent, which has won over the adoration of countless individuals. The 77-year-old showcased her talent by taking the stage as a child performer, singing on various radio and television shows in the East Tennessee region.

At age ten, Parton had already established herself as a prominent figure on The Cas Walker Show, which aired on WIVK Radio and WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee. However, it was her debut single, “Puppy Love” which was released at the age of 13 under the esteemed Goldband Records label in Louisiana, that gave her a celebrity status in her town.

Dolly Parton was alleged to be the mother of her sister, Rachel

LOS ANGELES, CA, USA – FEBRUARY 08: Singer Dolly Parton arrives at the 2019 MusiCares Person Of The Year Honoring Dolly Parton held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 8, 2019 in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency)

Due to her rising fame, Parton was subject to scrutiny and rumors during her high school years. One of such hearsays was that her younger sister, Rachel, who was the last child of her parents, was actually her daughter.

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In her 1994 memoir, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, the singer revealed that the speculations arose when she was joined on The Cas Walker Show by a handsome young man named Curly Dan Bailey whom people believed she had a relationship with. “Even though I was only fourteen at the time,” Parton wrote, “the rumor spread that I had gotten pregnant by Curly Dan and that Rachel was actually my illegitimate child by him.”

CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE, (aka DOLLY PARTON’S CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE), Dolly Parton, 2020. © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

Although she acknowledged the striking resemblance between Rachel’s curly hair and that of Curly Dan, Parton stated that her sister’s locks were like their father’s hair.

The singer says she learned to live with the rumors

Parton confessed that despite not being a stranger to different stories about her, the rumor that she was Rachel’s mother had such a profound impact on her that she contemplated abandoning her education altogether but had to continue due to the intervention of her mom, Avie Lee.

HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES, CA, USA – DECEMBER 06: Singer Dolly Parton arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere Of Netflix’s ‘Dumplin” held at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX 6 on December 6, 2018 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency)

The 77-year-old further explained that after the discussion with her mother, she developed a resilient mindset towards the lies and rumors that circulated about her and even made jokes about it. “Rachel had to be taken by cesarean and was the last child she would be able to have, there are those who still think Rachel is my child—sometimes, I think, even Rachel,” Parton wrote in the book. “Of course, it’s not above me to have a little fun with that. Even today when Rachel’s hair fuzzes up from the rain or humidity I will sometimes call her ‘Curly Dan.’ The fact that I was able to laugh off stories like that felt good to me. I had really learned Mama’s lesson about self-respect.”

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