Dolly Parton opens up about not having kids: 'I've made sacrifices'

The country music legend shared the crucial factor in her personal life that allowed her to pursue her successful career and the sacrifices she's made along the way.
/ Source: TODAY

Dolly Parton says her journey to becoming a country music star and successful businesswoman depended on a a crucial factor in her personal life.

The 74-year-old legend spoke with Oprah Winfrey about her success and the sacrifices she's made in her career in the latest edition of "The Oprah Conversation" on Apple TV+, which will be released Friday.

Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long.

"Since I had no kids, and my husband was pretty independent, I had freedom," she said in an exclusive clip of the show shared on TODAY Thursday. "So I think a big part of my whole success is the fact that I was free to work."

Parton's husband of 54 years, Carl Dean, has remained in the background to such a degree that Parton has had to debunk a conspiracy theory that he doesn't actually exist.

"A lot of people have thought that through the years because he does not want to be in the spotlight at all," Parton told "Entertainment Tonight" in October.

The couple has been comfortable over the years living independent lives while Parton was often off touring and performing.

They do not have children, but Parton has been involved in the lives of millions of kids through her Imagination Library, which has given more than 100 million books to children from birth until they enter kindergarten.

"And I didn't have children because I believed that God didn't mean for me to have kids so everybody's kids could be mine, so I could do things like Imagination Library because if I hadn't had the freedom to work, I wouldn't have done all the things I've done," Parton told Winfrey. "I wouldn't be in a position to do all of the things I'm doing now."

Winfrey also asked Parton if she has had to make sacrifices in order to achieve her level of success, which includes 25 No. 1 songs on the Billboard country charts, 10 Grammy Awards, an acting career and owning the popular theme park Dollywood and several other businesses in her home state of Tennessee.

Her tireless work ethic has not stopped into her 70s, as she released in October her first Christmas album in 30 years and said in March she has "no plans to retire."

"I've made sacrifices, but I think, like I said, I believe what I know I'm supposed to do," Parton said. "I've made the sacrifice of time ... and not having time to spend with family, and you give up family and friends, vacation, and work without end, 24/7, 365, but you got to make the sacrifice."