Dolly is back on our screens this afternoon as Steel Magnolias airs on Channel 5. Based on a true story, the comedy-drama follows the story of Annelle Dupuy, who moves to a small southwestern Louisiana town where Truvy Jones (played by Dolly) hires her to work in the local beauty salon. Soon, a close-knit circle of friends form at the salon, whose lives come together as they confront grief, loss and unforeseen tragedies.
The women gossip throughout the year as holidays and other events come and go, each of them experiencing tragedy and good fortune, growing stronger and closer in the process.
Though Dolly is an extremely successful actress, she is known primarily for her country music.
She has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and composed more than 3,000 songs including ‘I Will Always Love You’ — made famous by Whitney Houston, ‘Jolene’ and ‘9 to 5’.
Widely considered the ‘Queen of Country’, Dolly is the fourth of 12 children.
Born in 1946 in Tennessee, she previously described her family as being “dirt poor” — her father paid the doctor who helped deliver her with a bag or cornmeal.
As many as four people would sleep in a single bed, and early on, the family were forced to deal with a tragic heartbreak.
Speaking on the daytime TV show Home & Family in 2019, Dolly revealed her mother had her elder children share the work of raising their younger siblings.
She recalled: “There were so many of us that we, each older one, had to take care of the others.
“Mum was just having one baby. There was only 18 months to two years difference in our ages.
“So as the kids started multiplying mom would say, ‘Well this one’s going to be your baby.’”
Helping out would involve sorting out the baby’s bottle, walking the baby and having a say in the name.
Dolly continued: “The one that momma lost was going to be my baby and I was so excited.
“It just crushed me and it crushed my mum too, just losing a child.”
Dolly was just nine years old when the baby died, and fought back tears as she gave the interview.
She had named her baby brother ‘Larry’, and wrote in her 2020 autobiography that she had planned extensively for his arrival.
She wrote: “I had planned and worked so hard to be ready for him, to be his ‘little mama'.
“Then when he died, it just absolutely crushed me, crushed me. I still start crying when I think about little Larry.
“I was at a very vulnerable age. It was like I’d lost a baby of my own.”
Though she has been married since 1955, Dolly and her husband Carl Dean do not have any children of their own.
Speaking to The Guardian about not having children in 2014, she said: “If we’d had a girl, she was gonna be called Carla.
“Anyway, we talked about it, and we dreamed about it, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“You always wonder.
"My husband and I, when we first got married, we thought about if we had kids, what would they look like?
“Would they be tall — because he’s tall? Or would they be little squats like me?”
Dolly added, however, that she would have felt “guilty” about leaving her children to go on tour, and likely would not have become “a star” if she had a family.
While she has no children of her own, she has a number of nieces and nephews and they called her ‘Aunt Granny’.
She is also the godmother of pop superstar and actress Miley Cyrus.
Steel Magnolias airs at 2:05pm on Channel 5 this afternoon.