”Let the wind carry it away” : Dolly Parton Paid ‘Everything’ She and Her Her Husband Had When Porter Wagoner Sued Her. ttmd

Dolly Parton decided to pay Porter Wagoner $1 million instead of going to court. She said this was everything she had.

Porter Wagoner gave Dolly Parton her big break and, years later, one of her biggest heartaches. Parton became a fixture on The Porter Wagoner Show in 1967 and the duo put out a string of hits together. When she decided it was time to move on as a solo artist, he dampened her excitement by suing her. She said it took everything she had to settle the lawsuit.

Dolly Parton said she paid more money than she had when Porter Wagoner sued her

In 1974, Parton announced her exit from The Porter Wagoner Show to become a solo artist. Five years later, Wagoner sued Parton for breach of contract and demanded $3 million.

“Porter Wagoner filed suit against me for approximately three million dollars, claiming he had made me a star and was entitled to a percentage of my career for life,” Parton wrote in her book Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business. “I could have probably won the case in court, but to spare Carl and my family the heartache a long bitter court fight would have caused, I agreed to settle out of court for around one million dollars.”

A black and white picture of Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton smiling.

Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton | GAB Archive/Redferns

At this point, Parton was a verified success, but she didn’t have the money lying around.

“Although I appeared to be a star in the eyes of the public, I did not have a million dollars or anything even close to it,” she wrote. “Even a millionaire would be hard-pressed to put his hands on a million dollars in liquid assets under such circumstances.”

Despite this, Parton thought of herself as a person who always paid her debts. She also wanted to prove she could stand on her own. As a result, she scraped together the money. It was everything she and her husband had.

“I paid the debt. It took everything I had, everything Carl had, everything I could make for years to come, but I paid it,” she wrote. “I made up my mind that if he could live with it, I could live without it. I have done all right without it. I suppose Porter has done all right with it. I am neither his conscience nor his accountant.”

He also publicly disparaged her

In the years after Parton’s split from Wagoner, he spoke poorly about her to the press. Per the book Dolly on Dolly, Wagoner described Parton as someone who lived in “fairy land.” He accused her of only being out for herself. He also claimed he wasn’t bitter about her success. These words rang a bit hollow considering his lawsuit against her.

“I was just disappointed to find out she’s not made of what I thought she was,” he said. “To me, Dolly Parton is the kind of person I would never trust with anything of mine. I mean, her family, her own blood, she would turn her back on to help herself. I’m not that kind of person. I don’t care about talkin’ about it ‘cause most people would think I’m bitter at Dolly. I’m not bitter at her at all.”

Dolly Parton said she came to forgive Porter Wagoner

While Wagoner’s words and actions hurt Parton deeply, she came to forgive him. She never stopped appreciating him for giving her her big break and she didn’t want to hold onto resentment.

“You have to forgive and forget,” she wrote in her book Dolly Parton, Songteller. “He gave me great opportunities, and I did appreciate him. Later on, we got back together and he said he was sorry about all of that. So I forgave him, and I asked him to forgive me. I’m sure I was a pain in the a** to him. I was, because I believed in what I believed in, and I was going to fight for it. There’s truth on either side.”

Parton saw Wagoner before his death and emphasized that she forgave and loved him. He died shortly after her visit.

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