From fellow country legends Naomi Judd, Loretta Lynn, and Kenny Rogers to actor Leslie Jordan, within the last couple of years, the queen of country. Dolly Parton, has lost some of her closest friends to death. Obviously, losing anyone close is always heartbreaking, but it’s all the more so devastating when someone has to endure the sting of death back to back like that.
By now, grief is something that Dolly must be all-too-familiar with. That said, there has to be at least a bit of comfort in knowing that her entertainer friends all lived long and productive lives before meeting their ends. In the case of Leslie Jordan, however, Parton was undoubtedly shocked to learn of his passing. After all, Jordan’s life came to an abrupt end in a freak vehicular crash back in October of 2022 – but we’ll get to that in a bit. Naomi Judd’s passing was likewise quite unexpected as she ultimately ended up taking her own life back in the Spring of 2022.
With the deaths of her friends still fresh in Dolly’s mind, she recently sat down with TODAY and discussed her grieving process. At 76, Parton has to be well aware that her remaining time on this planet is naturally much shorter than it once was. Fortunately, she’s been in relatively decent health and likely will be around for quite some time. To be fair, when Parton passes, it wouldn’t be surprising if she received a funeral on par with royal figures like Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth II. After all, she is considered to be musical royalty and her fan base is both exceptionally large and diverse as well deeply devoted to her.
Join us as we address how Dolly has been dealing with this recent string of deaths in her circle. Facts Verse Presents: Dolly Parton Speaks Out After Losing Her Closest Friends.
After struggling for many years with depression accompanied by panic attacks, anxiety, and intrusive suicidal thoughts, Judd committed suicide by firearm at the age of 76 on April 30, 2022. It’s also worth noting that Judd experienced further emotional distress before her passing brought on by the side effects of the medication she was taking. It’s been reported that the lithium that she was prescribed for her depression produced a wide range of nasty side effects, such as facial edema, tremors, and alopecia.
Following her death, Naomi’s daughters, Ashley and Wynonna, turned to social media to express their grief. In one tweet sent out on the day of Naomi’s passing, the daughters revealed that they had lost their mother to the disease of mental illness. Ashley eventually revealed the cause of her mother’s death when she gave an interview with Good Morning America’s Diane Sawyers on May 12, 2022.
She made the revelation in hopes of raising awareness of mental illness so that others suffering from it might be able to receive the help that they so desperately need.
Not long after Judd’s death, Dolly took to Instagram to post a touching, albeit heartbreaking, tribute to her old friend. Parton wrote that she was shocked to hear about the singer’s passing. She went on to share that she and Judd had been quite close and that they were very similar in a number of ways. For one thing, Dolly brought up that they were both Capricorns who were the same age.
“We loved big hair, makeup, and music” Dolly wrote. She went on to say that she always loved Ashley, Wynonna, and Naomi like sisters. Dolly then posthumously congratulated Naomi and her daughter Wynonna for the The Judds induction into the prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
While she wasn’t able to attend the induction ceremony, Dolly said that she could still hear Naomi saying “Oh well, a day late and a Dolly short.”
Even several months later, the world is still mourning the loss of country legend Loretta Lynn who died in her sleep on October 4, 2022, at the age of 90.
With a career spanning six decades, Lynn revolutionized the world of country music with the release of multiple gold albums and countless hit singles such as ‘Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind’, ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)’,and ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter.
In 1980, she was the subject of a film based on her life that was also fittingly titled Coal Miner’s Daughter. Throughout her time in the music industry, Lynn received many awards and accolades, including awards from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. She was also nominated 18 times for Grammys – winning three of those.
As of 2022, Lynn was the most-awarded female country artist of all time. Additionally, she was the only female Academy of Country Music Artist of the Decade.
In 2017, Lynn had to put an abrupt end to her 57 years of touring after suffering a stroke. A year later, she broke her hip. Fortunately, when she finally passed back in October, she did so in just about the most peaceful way that you can.
Over the years, Parton and Lynn collaborated on several occasions. In 1993, they teamed up with Tammy Wynette for a colab album called Honky Tonk Angels. That project included songs like ‘Wings of Dove’ and ‘Silver Threads and Golden Needles’.
Lynn was also a guest on Parton’s variety show The Dolly Show, which aired on ABC from 1987 – 1988. On that program, the two harmonized while singing a medley of several of Lynn’s biggest hits.
Much as she did after Naomi Judd’s death, Dolly Parton shared her thoughts on Lynn’s passing on social media. On Instagram, the ‘9 to 5’ singer wrote that she was very sorry to hear about her friend Loretta’s fate. She went on to say that she and Lynn had been ‘like sisters’ all the years that they’ve been in Nashville. She then added that Loretta was a wonderful being and wonderful talent who had millions of fans, among whom she was one of them.
Parton wrapped up her thoughts by saying, “I miss her dearly, as we all will. May she rest in Peace”.
Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers were more than just musical partners – they were also close friends. So, naturally, after learning of Roger’s passing at the age of 81 on March 20, 2020, in a hospice in Sandy Springs, Georgia, Parton was devastated.
Parton and Rogers met while she was performing on her variety show in ’76. The two immediately hit it off, and not long after the show aired, Parton says that they became ‘buddies’.
Dolly was already familiar with Rogers before they met because he was a member of the rock band First Edition before embarking on his solo country career. Parton and Rogers continued to develop their special friendship that enddured for decades. In her book Song Teller, Parton said that she loved Rogers and that they were ‘kindred spirits’. She further noted that she and Rogers often laughed together and that she especially appreciated hearing Rogers sing.
Although the media often speculated that the two were romantically involved, Parton repeatedly denied that their relationship was anything but platonic. She was once even quoted as saying that they loved each other like brother and sister.
Following his death, Parton commented that she felt like a chunk of her heart went with Rogers. She also said that her felt broken.
While Parton deeply misses Rogers, she says that she has found comfort in knowing that he is in a better place. In Song Teller, she expressed her belief that Rogers is currently talking to God about spreading light in the darkness seen throughout the world today. She ended her heartfelt tribute to Rogers by telling to to “fly high” into the loving arms of the divine.
Despite standing at just 4’11, this actor, comedian, writer, and singer stood tall in the eyes of Dolly Parton, who counted him as one of her closest friends.
Jordan was best known for his roles in television series like Will & Grace, American Horror Story, The Cool Kids, Call Me Kat, and Hearts Afire. Aside from his screen roles, Jordan also had a lifelong love for theater. Most notably, he played Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram in the 1996 play Sordid Lives. He later portrayed that character in the 2000 film adaptation.
In 2021, Jordan’s autobiography, How Y’all Doing? Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived was published. That same year he released a gospel music album titled Company’s Comin’.
Tragically on the morning of October 24, 2022, while en route to film scenes on the set of Call Me Kat, Jordan’s car collided with the side of a building at the corner of Cahuenga Boulevard and Romaine Street in Hollywood. It’s believed that he experienced some kind of medical episode that led to the accident. He was sadly pronounced dead at the scene at the age of 67.
After learning of her friend’s untimely death, Parton posted on social media that she was in shock and deeply saddened. She further expressed that she felt as if she had lost a family member. She went on to acknowledge that in the case of most star’s deaths, there is always a flood of people that come out and say that they will be be missed, but in Jordan’s case, she says that couldn’t be more true.
In her post, Dolly wrote “He will be missed by everyone who knew him personally and by everyone who was entertained by him”. She wrapped that message up by saying, “Rest in peace lil’ brother’.
How Dolly Copes
After experiencing all of those back-to-back deaths, the sting of loss is obviously still quite fresh for Dolly. Talking to Hoda Kotb on the Today show in early December 2022, Parton revealed that she has relied on happy memories of Lynn and Judd to navigate the otherwise painful grieving process.
Touching on the loss of her friends Loretta Lynn, Naomi Judd, and Kenny Rogers, Parton said that she had been making it a point to look back on the good memories that they made together while also thinking about all of the similarities that they shared with each other.
She said that she grieves over them just like she would for a flesh and blood family member. Dolly further said that one song, in particular, Alan Jackson’s ‘Precious Memories’, reminds her of her fallen friends. In that song, one lyric stands out to her. “Precious memories, unseen angels, sent from somewhere to my soul’.
Parton explained that those ‘precious memories’ flow in and out of her as she remembers special things about them. She added that the lingering presence of these memories feels like those ‘unseen angels’ that Jackson sang about, and that it almost feels like her friends are still around with her.
Dolly Parton is, without question, one of the strongest women alive. She wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all that she has otherwise. That being said, she’s only human. And just like the rest of us, she has to deal with the pain and heartache that goes along with losing those closest to her.
As time goes on and we all start getting up there in age, we’ll have to deal with heartbreak and grief as those that we love the most reach the end of their lives. Perhaps, we can all take a few notes from Dolly’s playbook as we navigate these difficult life chapters.
We’re going to go ahead and wrap this video up, but before you go, feel free to drop us a line in the comments. Did you know that Dolly Parton lost several of her closest friends back-to-back within just two years? And do you think she’s done a good job honoring her fallen friends memories with her heartfelt tributes? Let us know, and as always, thanks for watching!