Dolly Parton has been happily married to loving and supportive husband Carl Dean since 1966 - but some people don't believe he actually exists.

The Queen of country music's other half is so rarely seen that she was once forced to address a conspiracy theory that he's imaginary.

The truth is, Carl simply has no interest in a life in the spotlight.

Dolly, who turns 75 today, told Entertainment Tonight : "A lot of people have thought that through the years because he does not want to be in the spotlight at all.

"It's just not who he is. He's like, a quiet, reserved person and he figured if he ever got out there in that, he'd never get a minute’s peace and he's right about that."

Dolly and husband Carl
Dolly and husband Carl

Dolly said she has "always respected" her husband's preference for a private life and that she's always tried to keep him out of the limelight as much as she could.

She added: "He said, 'I didn't choose this world, I chose you, and you chose that world. But we can keep our lives separate and together'. And we do and we have."

Despite that, Carl has played a big part in Dolly's success.

Her hit song Jolene was inspired by an attractive red-haired bank teller who caught the eye of her husband soon after they were married.

Dolly turns 75 today
Dolly turns 75 today
Carl doesn't like being in the limelight
Carl doesn't like being in the limelight

He supposedly started flirting with her and she wrote about her feelings.

She said once while playing at Glastonbury: "I wrote that [song] years ago when my husband … was spending a little more time with Jolene than I thought he should be.

"I put a stop to that. I got rid of that redhead woman in a hurry ... Had it not been for that woman I would never have written Jolene and I wouldn't have made all that money, so thank you, Jolene."

Carl having eyes for another woman inspired Dolly's hit Jolene
Carl having eyes for another woman inspired Dolly's hit Jolene

However, the name of the hit came from a much more innocent place.

Dolly told NPR: "One night, I was on stage, and there was this beautiful little girl — she was probably eight years old at the time.

"And she had this beautiful red hair, this beautiful skin, these beautiful green eyes, and she was looking up at me, holding, you know, for an autograph. I said, 'Well, you're the prettiest little thing I ever saw. So what is your name?' And she said, 'Jolene'.

"And I said, 'Jolene. Jolene. Jolene. Jolene'. I said, 'That is pretty. That sounds like a song. I'm going to write a song about that'."