Awarded: April 2004
(b. Jan. 19, 1946)
Dolly Parton began appearing on Knoxville TV at age 12, and at 13 she was already recording on a small label and appearing at the Grand Ole Opry. After graduating from high school, she moved to Nashville to launch her career as a country singer. Parton's singing caught the attention of Porter Wagoner, who hired her to appear on his program, “The Porter Wagoner Show.” By the time her hit “Joshua” reached number one in 1970, her fame had overshadowed Porter's, and she struck out on her own. Parton gained immense popularity as a singer/songwriter and has won numerous Country Music Association Awards and five Grammys. She is also an established actress, having starred in such well-known movies as “9 to 5” and “Steel Magnolias.” Parton is the head of Dolly Parton Enterprises, a $100 million media empire, and in 1986 she founded Dollywood, a theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., celebrating her Smokey Mountain upbringing.