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Records: Loretta Lynn older than believed

Country music legend Loretta Lynn is three years older than she has led people to believe, an age change that undermines the story she told of being married at 13 in her book "Coal Miner's Daughter," documents obtained by The Associated Press show.

Lynn's birth certificate on file at the state Office of Vital Statistics in Frankfort, Ky., shows that Loretta Webb was born on April 14, 1932, in Johnson County, Ky. That makes her 80 years old, not 77. Also on file is her marriage license and two affidavits from her mother, Clara Marie Ramey, and S.W. Ward Jr., who was not related to the family, listing the same birth date. Lynn's marriage license, obtained by the AP from the Johnson County clerk's office, lists her as 15 on Jan. 10, 1948.

The records weren't filed until 1965, which meant that Lynn needed multiple documents to prove her age at that time.

Lynn's spokeswoman, Nancy Russell of Nashville, Tenn., declined to comment. Lynn's daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell, did not respond to emailed requests for comment. Lynn's parents and many other relatives are dead, including her husband, O.V. "Mooney" Lynn.

Certainly Lynn isn't the first celebrity to be less than forthcoming about a birthday, but the discrepancy is significant because her age is woven into her compelling life story in her 1976 bestselling autobiography and the namesake Oscar-winning film starring Sissy Spacek.

It would have been illegal for a girl under 14 to marry in Kentucky in 1948, said R. Eric Henninger of the Kentucky State Law Library. At that time, he said, "lots of folks didn't have any sort of official proof of age."

Lynn addresses the perils of disclosing her age in her autobiography. "When I was born, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the president for several years. That's the closest I'm gonna come to telling my age in this book, so don't go looking for it," she writes. "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.' "

Music journalist and author Robert K. Oermann said nothing can overshadow Lynn's accomplishments. "Her singing was so great . . . The biography, the life story was just the icing on the cake."


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