Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, circa 1970
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty
Grand Ole Opry mainstay Porter Wagoner – who launched the career of Dolly Parton – died of lung cancer on Sunday. He was 80.
Sporting rhinestone suits and a big blond pompadour, the Missouri-born Wagoner had been an Opry fixture in Nashville since the 1950s. The hits he wrote or co-wrote include "Carroll County Accident," "A Satisfied Mind," "Company's Comin'," "Skid Row Joe," "Misery Loves Company" and "Green Green Grass of Home," the Associated Press reports.
His The Porter Wagoner Show debuted on TV in 1960 and ran for 21 years. In 1967 he introduced the then-21-year-old Parton as the "dumb blonde" on the program, but their duets (such as "The Last Thing on My Mind") quickly gained in popularity and her star was launched.
Though in 1974 they went their separate ways – "We split over creative differences. I was creative, and Porter was different," Parton joked in 1995, after they had settled Wagoner's protracted $3 million lawsuit against her over alleged assets – Parton remained a faithful friend to her mentor, bailing him out of tax problems when they arose, according to an A&E Biography of Parton, and visiting him in the hospital in the past weeks, reports the AP.
Wagoner won three Emmys and was elected to the Country Hall of Fame in 2002. He also appeared in the 1982 Clint Eastwood movie Honkytonk Man.