The Confusion Surrounding Loretta Lynn's Age (And Why It Matters) - Grunge

“Coal Miner’s Daughter” wasn’t just the first of Loretta Lynn’s autobiographies. It was also the basis for the 1980 hit film of the same name, the film that won Sissy Spacek an Oscar for her portrayal of the country star (per AP). A Broadway adaptation of the film was announced, though as of 2023 it has yet to be produced. In all versions of “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Lynn’s young age at the time of her marriage is one of the most dramatic episodes in her life, and she wasn’t shy about reflecting on it in her memoir. Besides pondering on the wisdom of marrying so young, she claimed to have gotten pregnant within four months of her wedding, making her a child mother as well as a child bride.

There was also a legal dimension to Lynn’s claim of being married at 13. Per AP, it would have been illegal for her and her husband Doolittle Lynn to be married in Kentucky in 1948 — any marriage where the bride was under the age of 14 would have been (Doolittle was 21 at the time). Lynn wrote in “Coal Miner’s Daughter” that 18 or 19 was the norm, but a marriage at 16, her actual age, was not illegal or even that uncommon in Kentucky in the late 1940s. Her caution against marrying so young still applies, but she didn’t violate state law.