Dolly Parton Opens Up About Her Husband Carl Dean and How Some People Don't Think He Exists (Exclusive)

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Dolly Parton and husband Carl Dean have enjoyed their 54-year marriage out of the spotlight -- so much so that some people question Dean's existence, according the country music icon.

In her new book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, the 74-year-old songstress said that she and Dean keep their personal lives so private that some people have told her they don't actually believe he's real.

In a new interview with ET's Rachel Smith, Parton elaborated on the apparently prevalent theory that her husband is imaginary.

"A lot of people have thought that through the years, because he does not want to be in the spotlight at all," Parton shared. "It's just not who he is. He's like, a quiet, reserved person and he figured if he ever got out there in that, he'd never get a minute’s peace and he's right about that."

"I've always respected and appreciated that in him and I've always tried to keep him out of the limelight as much as I can," she continued. "He said, 'I didn't choose this world, I chose you, and you chose that world. But we can keep our lives separate and together.' And we do and we have. We've been together 56 years, married 54."

The pair tied the knot on May 30, 1966, at a ceremony in Ringgold, Georgia, and have never looked back.

"Our joke about the fact, when people ask me why it's lasted this long, I say, 'Because I stay gone.' And there's a lot of truth in that -- the fact that we're not in each other's faces all the time," Parton shared. "But we do have a great respect and admiration for each other. We both have a great sense of humor. So, we have a lot of fun."

As for how they spend the time in which they are together, Parton explained, "We have very similar tastes... we love to travel around our little RV, and we don't like parties and all that stuff."

Parton also reflected on her upcoming memoir, and why this felt like the perfect time to reflect on her life's work through the lens of her songs.

"I had to have something to do," Parton said, referring to the nationwide shutdowns that have been enacted in response to the coronavirus pandemic. "Couldn't get out in concert. Had to make a living somehow."

"I let people have a glimpse into a lot of old photos, and my growing up in the business, a lot of family photos, and some of my early days as well," Parton said of her new book. "Even for my true fans, I think they're gonna get a lot of new stuff that they'll enjoy when they thought they knew everything about me. They'll find a few little nuggets that they didn't know."

For Parton fans, this is a pretty special time. Not only will her new memoir be available in time for the holidays, her new Christmas album, A Holly Dolly Christmasis already available.

"I'd always wanted to do another Christmas album, a solo album, and so this just seemed to be the right time," she explained. "I had thought about it a couple years back, but now, when everything hit like it did, I thought, 'Well, I've got the time to do it, this would be a good time to have a good Christmas album out,' so I actually got to work on a few original songs."

"We were able to do it with all the high tech stuff," Parton said of recording safely during the pandemic. "With all the craziness going on, I was able to still be creative and inventive and I'm real happy that we've got A Holly Dolly Christmas now, that we can share with everybody."

The country music queen's A Holly Dolly Christmas is now available everywhere.

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics comes out Nov. 17.

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