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Loretta Lynn Story Shaken Up by Age Revelation

Country legend was nearly 16 when she married, not 13

May 19, 2012 5:07 PM ET
Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn performs during the 2011 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.
Erika Goldring/WireImage

A dramatic element of Loretta Lynn's autobiography has been called into question following a discovery by the Associated Press that the country legend is actually three years older than she had claimed.

Lynn's birth certificate, which the AP found on file at the state Office of Vital Statistics in Frankfort, Kentucky, shows that Lynn was born on April 14, 1932. The date on her marriage license is January 10, 1948. In her 1976 autobiography, Coal Miner's Daughter, Lynn said that she was married at the age of 13 and a mother of four by the time she turned 18. The AP's revelation would mean that she nearly 16 at the time – still shockingly young, but not a crime in Kentucky at the time, as marrying a girl under the age of 14 was. Her husband, Oliver "Mooney" Lynn, was 21.

Lynn's spokeswoman, Nancy Russell, declined the AP's request for comment, saying that Lynn had instructed her, "If anyone asks how old I am, tell them it's none of their business!"

Herman Webb, Lynn's younger brother, said that there may have been a mix-up with his sister's paperwork when she moved to Nashville to start her career in music.

Lynn, who is now 80, acknowledged the perils of discussing her age in her autobiography.

"I'm trying to make a living singing songs. I don't need nobody out there saying, 'She don't look bad considering she's such-and-such years old,'" she wrote.

Coal Miner's Daughter was the basis for the 1980 film of the same name, and will soon come to Broadway in a stage production starring Zooey Deschanel.

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