Dolly's sister, Stella Parton, talks about rumors of rivalry

Stella Parton, the sister of superstar Dolly, a country singer, participates in this year's Celebrity Masterchef

When Celebrity Masterchef debuted in 2006, his surprise winner was former rugby player Matt Dawson. Over the years, comedian Ade Edmondson and actress Sophie Thompson have been among those who took the coveted trophy, all family names for a local television audience.

Stella Parton, the sister of superstar Dolly, a country singer, participates in this year's Celebrity Masterchef

Stella Parton, the sister of superstar Dolly, a country singer, participates in this year's Celebrity Masterchef

So it's a surprise to find Stella Parton in this year's lineup along with celebrities like actor Keith Allen, cricketer Monty Panesar, The Only Way is Essex star Gemma Collins and Made in Chelsea's Spencer Matthews. An American country singer, Stella is also known as the younger sister of Dolly Parton. It is true that the former Pussycat Dolls singer, Kimberly Wyatt, triumphed in the cooking contest in 2015 and her compatriot Jimmy Osmond reached the final the following year. But how the hell did Stella, 69, jump from Nashville to such a British institution?

The man to thank, he says, is the London publicist Simon Whittam, who wrote to praise his 2013 album Resurrection and ended up becoming his friend and now manager. Simon launched the idea that this enthusiastic amateur cook was part of the Celebrity Masterchef lineup for 2018: it took the BBC less than 24 hours to give her the green light.

When we meet, she has already started the recording process. So, how are you finding it? "I liked the format from the start," he says. She loved the other contestants in her first episode, including actress Lisa Maxwell and Strictly Come Dancing pro, AJ Pritchard. And I was delighted with judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode. & # 39; Both are as cute as they could be. They are real characters and they support us all. "

Stella and Dolly in 2015. "You get in your own lane," she says. & # 39; You run your own race & # 39;

Stella and Dolly in 2015. "You get in your own lane," she says. & # 39; You run your own race & # 39;

Stella and Dolly in 2015. "You get in your own lane," she says. & # 39; You run your own race & # 39;

She took everything very seriously. "For a long time I have been an enthusiastic cook, of course I want to win, and in my time, I have compiled three charity cookbooks that offer food from the south of the country in a healthy style, for me cooking is like theater; a celebration that you recline for your audience & # 39;

He is about to release his 40th album, so Stella's career could not be described, for any reason, as disappointing. That said, he has sometimes been overshadowed by the extraordinary success of his sister Dolly, three years older than her at age 72. Stella does not have any of this. "You get in your own lane," she says. "You direct your own career." The bright-eyed woman who sits across from me at the Ivy Club in London is clearly at peace with herself. But then, like her myriad of siblings, she graduated from the school of hard knocks.

She is number six in a family of six children and six girls, although her brother Larry died four days after a lung disorder contracted in the womb. "I remember seeing him in his open coffin, I'm not sure I asked a little boy, he was five years old, but my parents believed that we should be exposed to life, both for its beauty and its hardness."

The parents of Stella, Robert and Avie. Avie was prone to seasonal affective disorder. "I would spend months in the gloomy winter with a pillow over my head"

The parents of Stella, Robert and Avie. Avie was prone to seasonal affective disorder. "I would spend months in the gloomy winter with a pillow over my head"

The parents of Stella, Robert and Avie. Avie was prone to seasonal affective disorder. "I would spend months in the gloomy winter with a pillow over my head"

Stella with Tom Wopat and John Schneider as
guest star in The Dukes of Hazzard in 1979

Stella with Tom Wopat and John Schneider as
guest star in The Dukes of Hazzard in 1979

Stella with her son Tim in 1981

Stella with her son Tim in 1981

Stella with Tom Wopat and John Schneider as guest star on The Dukes of Hazzard in 1979 (left); Stella with her son Tim in 1981 (right)

Stella (last row, third from left) with her family and sister Dolly (first row, third from left) in 1954

Stella (last row, third from left) with her family and sister Dolly (first row, third from left) in 1954

Stella (last row, third from left) with her family and sister Dolly (first row, third from left) in 1954

It was a loving but difficult breeding in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. The family house had no electricity until Stella was eight years old and had no pipes inside until she was 15 years old. The hot water came through boiled kettles in the wood stove. Stella's mother, Avie, was prone to seasonal affective disorder. He would spend months in the gloomy winter with a pillow over his head. It was like having a father who checked every so often. So there is no doubt that, emotionally speaking, we were careless. There were too many of us. "The result for Stella was that she became the de facto mother of children younger than herself, helping them to cook since she was seven." I had to drag a chair to the stove to reach it and remove it. That taught me the art of being a survivor. The family had to have fun. "Dad was a good singer, my mother was a great person, he played the banjo, she played the guitar, we were storytellers and singers and songwriters who grew up on a farm."

Dolly's talent gradually crept towards her, says Stella. "But it became obvious that music made her happy and that made us happy too." And she was always more outgoing than me. "With ten years, Dolly went to live with her aunt Estelle, 40 miles away, to be closer to the local radio and television stations." From then on, Dolly was never without a paycheck. And she did not mind being away from home? She loved him She had a bathtub, running water, electricity and a phone She was living the best life.

"I've always been a serious person, I like being an old war ax, and as long as I'm happy, it's okay, because I'm the only person I have to please," says Stella.

When Dolly moved alone to Nashville at age 18, she missed her family so that Stella and her younger sister, Cassie, would take the bus to stay with her. "I called those sessions" sister corrections. "Dolly was our favorite drug and we were hers."

For all that, if you believe half of what you read, there have been many falls over the years. "It's just not true," says Stella with conviction. "These stories are pure gossip and have greatly offended me, Dolly and I have always been close."

It's not that Stella has not been tested. At one point, when she started as a singer, an uncle who was managing Dolly's career suggested in front of her older sister that Stella should change her last name because it could hurt Dolly's "brand".

"My dad was really upset when I told him." But what did Dolly say? & # 39; She did not know what to think about it. But I never blamed her. For me, we were both victims of other people's ambitions. Anyway, I changed my name from Carroll, the second name of my first husband, to Parton after a year and everything was quickly forgotten.

Stella on the set of Celebrity Masterchef. She says that one of her secret ambitions is to have her own cooking show

Stella on the set of Celebrity Masterchef. She says that one of her secret ambitions is to have her own cooking show

Stella on the set of Celebrity Masterchef. She says that one of her secret ambitions is to have her own cooking show

Any way you cut it, Dolly casts a considerable shadow. Does it never bother Stella that people often want to know everything about their most famous sister? – It certainly does. It irritates me immensely. I do not blame Dolly, but when people become too curious about her, it seems rude to me.

Can it also be true that more than one person has asked Stella if she would consider the idea of ​​a breast augmentation, presumably to emulate her well-stacked sister? "Yes, two agents and a manager made that suggestion." All these years later, his anger is still palpable. "I'm a mother and I saw my breasts as something to feed a child, not sexual objects." Sighs. "But that's what happens if you're the younger sister of an icon."

Stella has had a long and varied career, but everything has been secondary when she has been placed next to her commitment to her son, Tim. She married at 17, gave birth to her only child at age 19 and divorced two years later ("we were just too young"). "Tim is almost 50 now, but he has always been the most important person in my life, although he has a rival." A beatific smile "My grandson, Liam, because of Tim's wife, Sheena, was three years old on St. Patrick's Day, he's the number one man in my life and he loves his yaya, that's what he calls me in. On his trips to Europe after the Tim, he met many Greek women who were great in nutrition, great in cooking, they reminded me of me, and the Greek children call their grandmothers Yaya, hence my nickname.

Stella and Grandson Liam at Christmas in 2016. He's the number one man in my life right now and he loves his yaya, that's what he calls me & # 39;

Stella and Grandson Liam at Christmas in 2016. He's the number one man in my life right now and he loves his yaya, that's what he calls me & # 39;

Stella and Grandson Liam at Christmas in 2016. He's the number one man in my life right now and he loves his yaya, that's what he calls me & # 39;

As it happens, Dolly and her husband Carl Thomas Dean, who have been married for more than 50 years, never had children. "I've always said that Dolly's songs are her children, she's written more than 3,000, including global successes like & # 39; Jolene & # 39 ;, Coat of Many Colors & # 39; and, of course, & # 39; I Will Always Love You & # 39 ;. "But she is a very affectionate person, a surrogate mother of her nephews and nieces and also of her children. She goes crazy for all of them.

Stella maintains that raising Tim on his own had a beneficial effect on his career. & # 39; I needed to make money for both of us. I wanted to give my son the life he could not have because my parents were so poor. "At one point, Stella even cleaned Dolly's house for the extra money. I received $ 45 a week and I was grateful for it She was helping me. "

Stella has been married four times, although she resists any request to identify her fourth husband. "The last three relationships that led to the marriage," he says, "the men turned out not to be the people who introduced me, which meant that the marriages lasted little." I have had pantyhose that have lasted longer. But I do not consider myself a victim. I was the winner. "

She knows what she is talking about. When he was little more than 20 years old, he agreed to give a promotion to a local hotel to a well-known local politician, friend and contemporary of his father. When they reached the garage, he tried to rape her, attacking her so fiercely that she broke his nose. "There was blood everywhere, but I fought against it." He never publicly revealed what had happened. "It would be different today, I would go directly to the police, that's why I'm so happy with the #MeToo movement, I really think something good has come out of something bad." He pauses. "But I'm advocating for justice, not revenge."

THE STELLA STARS

DESCRIBE IN THREE WORDS Independent, strong, honest.

SECRET AMBITION Have my own cooking show and appear in a West End musical.

MOMENT OF STARSTRUCK Meeting James Garner when he was doing The Rockford Files. He was so handsome with those big brown eyes.

MOTTO Do what you want them to do.

RECURRENT DREAM Since I was 15 years old, I have dreamed of entering an old house that needs love and attention. The walls need painting; the floors need polishing. And I know what that means: I'm working on me all the time.

CRUSH CELEBRITY Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. I do not like pretty men. I love how he sings and plays the guitar.

SLEEP GUESTS OF DINNER OF DINNER My mother, my father and my grandfather, the Reverend Jake Owens, he was the wisest person I have ever met. I would also like Jesus and Gandhi.

FAVORITE TYPE A dry, straight vodka martini with two olives stuffed with blue cheese.

STYLE ICON I. I wear the clothes I like instead of letting them put me on. Dolly has her own style that makes her happy, but it would not work for me.

There have also been many good men in your life. "My dad was a wonderful man and all my brothers are good men." She is also a great fan of Dolly's husband, Carl. He's kind-hearted and has always been there for me if he needed to be rescued from a situation. He is an intensely private man and does not have time for show business, but if that is what makes the Old Lady, that's how he calls Dolly, be happy, then it's fine. She calls him daddy. He thinks that artists are strange people. But he and Dolly a long time ago found their level. He loves her very much. "

There have been great stretches of time when Stella has not seen her sister superstar for the good reason that Dolly was traveling the world. "Oh, but I can read your face. If I see her on the screen, I can tell if she is tired, upset or sad. I know if she needs a call. We were so emotionally dependent on each other when we grew up, we all were, that the bond could not be deeper. "

In the past, she and her younger sister, Cassie, used to sing the harmonies on Dolly's records. In 2016, Stella released an album, Mountain Songbird, dedicated to Dolly's songbook and included a duet, "More Power to Ya", co-written with her sister. "I'm happy with the way the album came out, and Dolly was delighted with the final result, I was very touched by her reaction." Stella recently recorded a new album, Survivor, which includes eight new self-written songs.

She says a lot to Stella that she has not lost sight of who she is. "I entered mine when I was 50 when my personality finally reached my age, I've always been a serious person, I like being an old war ax, and as long as I'm happy, it's okay, because I'm the only person I have to You're looking at a peaceful woman, peace is satisfaction and I think satisfaction, "says Stella Parton eminently ordered," is quite underestimated. "

Stella will appear on Celebrity Masterchef, which returns to BBC One later this month

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