5 times Dolly Parton proved she’s a genuine angel on earth

Dolly Parton performs on the Pyramid Stage during Day 3 of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm on June 29, 2014

Dolly Parton, the country singer, actor, humanitarian, bona fide gay icon and actual saint, just keeps getting better.

Born 19 January, 1946, Dolly grew up “dirt poor” in Tennessee as one of 12 children. Having taken to music in the church, by age 10 she was performing professionally, and by her early 20s she had a string of country hits to her name.

She released “Jolene” in 1973, and the world was never the same again. Throughout the decades since, Dolly has blessed the world with music, films (including the iconic 9 to 5), her Dollywood theme park, and countless charitable endeavours. Famously, she helped fund the successful Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, meaning it’s accurate to say Dolly Parton literally helped save the world.

It’s impossible to narrow down her achievements to a single list, but god loves a trier, so here are five times Dolly proved herself the ultimate icon.

Donating $1 million to the COVID-19 vaccine – and giving a lesson in humility

Dolly Parton performs onstage during MusiCares Person of the Year honouring Dolly Parton. (Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

As the world slipped into chaos amid the rampaging coronavirus pandemic, Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which worked with the drugmaker Moderna to develop the vaccine.

It was an act that, to so many of her fans, captured Parton’s warming generosity and philanthropy, from donating books to children to uplifting victims of disasters – but she has refused to take any credit.

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“When the pandemic came out, I just felt led to do something because I knew something bad was on the rise,” she told Absolute Country Radio last year.

“So mine was a small part, of course, but I probably get a lot more credit than I deserve.”

Dolly Parton at Dollywood on April 24, 1993. (Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Above all, Dolly Parton is an LGBT+ icon and has long been among the community’s most high-decibel allies, and not only for her camp level.

At a time when the US was still a dizzying patchwork of states where some queer people could marry and others could not, Parton called out those intolerant enough to disagree with marriage equality in 2014.

“I think gay people should be allowed to marry,” she said at the time. “They should suffer just like us heterosexuals.”

Dolly Parton’s endless wisdom on life, diets, Botox, birthdays and being kind to others

Parton is in a cosmos dark and unrelenting remained a bright star, and that’s partly because she is genuinely a nice person.

She’s well known for her wisecracks and pearls of wisdom that can truly be lived by. Among them: “I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren’t in the book. I tried eating the book. It tasted better than most of the diets.”

“Don’t get so busy making a living that you forgot to make a life.”

“I think everybody should be allowed to be who they are and to love who they love.”

“People say, ‘Oh, you just always seem so happy.’ Well, that’s the Botox.”

“This year, my birthday wish is a call for kindness,” she tweeted last year. “We can’t just hope for a brighter day, we have to work for a brighter day.”

She quietly funds Black high school bands

(R. Diamond/WireImage)

In 2022, writer Michael Harriot tweeted that he’d noticed a “quietly wonderful” phenomenon when speaking former choir or band members from Black communities majority Black high schools.

“Here’s a quietly wonderful thing I noticed,” he said.

“If you talk to someone who was in choir or band at a majority Black HS, you’ll eventually discuss those annoying fundraisers for uniforms, instruments, etc. & a SURPRISING number will casually say: “Oh, Dolly Parton paid for ours.”

The tweet went viral, with multiple people sharing their own experiences of Dolly’s generosity.

Dolly Parton also invested $10 million – her royalties from Whitney Houston’s cover of “I Will Always Love You”– in a Black neighbourhood in Nashville.

Defying ageism

In 2003, Parton sat down on the iconic cream sofa of The Oprah Winfrey Show. But it all took an odd turn with Oprah Winfrey began grilling the singer on plastic surgery, insisting that she is “defying age” because she’s “had some work done”.

Rather than be embarrassed, however, Parton gracefully ducked the question and said: “I have a funny thing I was telling the girls – all the girls that are singing on this tribute album [Just Because I’m A Woman], a lot of them are very young.

“I said I was already into plastic surgery when they were still sleeping on plastic sheets.”

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