Seeing the Osmonds
It used to be that people would climb over just about anything to get close to the Osmonds.
One bizarre story involved someone actually mailing herself to the family’s hotel room where the talented family was staying. Talk about a super fan!
Although the Osmond family spent much of their time in the limelight, backstage in their personal lives was shrouded in shadows, inner demons and problems. Life wasn’t all glitz and glamor for most of the Osmond family.
Most of them avoided the typical pitfalls: drugs, alcohol and the “good life” many movie stars and television personalities fall into, but that didn’t keep the evil spells away from the Osmonds.
Some of these problems stemmed from spending too much or not enough time under the Clegg lights. Others were bullied by executives and managers.
Remarkably, for a family that spent so much time in the public eye, there is a treasure trove of secrets yet to be unearthed. Here we try to solve the puzzle that was the Osmond family through their best-kept secrets.
Meeting Groucho Marx
While the Donny & Marie show was on the air, it was famous for bringing on some great celebrity guests. Although this helped the ratings, behind the scenes, things weren’t always so good for Marie.
She recalls one such instance when Groucho Marx was a guest on the show and how he couldn’t keep his hands to himself. She said, “He was a dirty old man.” Not exactly a safe work environment for a young woman.
Starved for fame
When Marie was 15-years-old, she states how bad the pressure was to stay thin. She and her brother were offered a TV show, but executives pressured Marie to lose weight or the show would be canceled.
At that time she was weighed only 103 pounds and went down to 97 pounds after she stopped eating completely. She quoted TV executives as saying she was “obese, disgusting and a disgrace to my family.”
Donny, the nerd
Donny was super-smart technology connoisseur. Donny designed a secret video control room in the Flamingo in Las Vegas along with other audio and computer systems backstage.
Donny also sequenced all of the montages when he wasn’t on stage. Donny said, “It’s my little world in here.” He confessed he is a “total nerd,” particularly when it comes to Mac products.
Behind the smile of Marie
In a confession that will shock the ages, Marie Osmond revealed that she had been holding onto a terrible secret behind her pretty eyes and naïve appearance. In her tell-all book, “Behind the Smile,” she tells the tale of a childhood rife with sexual abuse.
The stories involve gruesome details of her experiences and even to this day, Marie refuses to expose the abuser, only clearing her family and friends of any wrongdoing.
A seriously generous family
The church was a place of peace and reflection for the Osmond Family and therefore, they have donated 10% of their money to their church—a church that assists people in every corner of the Earth.
Donny operates the family charity, the Osmond Foundation for the Children of the World while Marie is a key participant in the Children’s Miracle Network.
Donny was known as “Uncle Donny” to pretty much everyone who knew him personally, but if a friend or kids he works with come to see his show in Las Vegas, he has to show them a little more than his old familiar self or as he puts it “a little more than Uncle Donny right now.”
Everyone who visits gets to visit the Bellagio Bridge with “Uncle Donny” where you can see a gigantic Donny & Marie projected into the flamingo. Donny’s eyes are six feet tall and ten feet wide on the projected image.
Forget working 9 til 5
When Donny & Marie got their show in 1976, Donny was 17 years old, but unlike most late teens, Donny didn’t have a 9 to 5 job. This is because of the rigorous schedule Donny and all of his siblings were on. In fact, name an intense celebrity schedule and the Osmond children could beat it.
Twenty-hour days were not uncommon for Donny and Marie—learning new songs, dances moves and reading stacks of scripts. The incredible thing was that there was no look of exhaustion or poor attitude on either of their faces.
Donny not Donnie
Let’s face it, no one likes it when their name gets toyed with. Whether it’s spelled wrong, mispronounced or rhymed with something unfortunate, people hate it. Donny was no exception to this rule.
When he saw his name spelled ‘Donnie’ it made him livid. The staff at the flamingo thought it would be clever to misspell his name on his gold star on his dressing room door, which probably set off the star, but hopefully in a good old Mormon way.
Dancing on the tables
As a natural performer, Donny Osmond was always known for leaving it all out on the stage.
Marie has admitted in interviews that her brother does go off the rails sometimes during their Las Vegas show, especially when he starts dancing on people’s tables! Her advice? Hold on to your drinks! And if you’re sitting in the front row, better make that a plastic cup!
Curious about how Donny Osmond’s day goes? According to those closest to the man, he wakes up at 6 am to drive his son to the airport after just four hours of sleep. Before Donny tries to take a morning nap, he gives a call to his business manager and then time to record for his Disney show. Then, a workout before joining Marie onstage for their show. When on tour, the schedule is different with a repetition of bus, rehearsal, the show takes over.
While traveling from place to place, he enjoys doing a bit of reading on the bus.
Marie said she lost nearly 50 pounds during the Flamingo Show in Las Vegas and her appearance on dancing with the stars.
It looked like such hard work! Marie took the hard work all in stride saying, “I had to be healthy. Heart disease runs in my family.” She went on to say that her mom and grandmother died of heart disease and her father had two pacemakers. She realized how dire the situation was when her son said, “Mom, you’re all we have.”
Turns out that Marie isn’t the only member of the duo who has watched the inches fade away over the years. Donny has lost two inches from his waist since the two start doing shows at the Flamingo in Las Vegas.
The hour and a half variety show get pretty intense at times, meaning Donny gets in some cardio and legs all while he’s performing. He does supplement this ‘workout’ with regular trips to the gym to work out his full body.
Donny and Marie haven’t always been a ying and yang on the stage together like they were in the 70s and now in Las Vegas. In the 1980s, the two decide to split their act in order to have solo careers.
Many people missed the two together and were extremely pumped when it was announced that the two would be teaming up again to do Vegas. Donny confessed that he knew they would always end up performing together again and when he laid eyes on the Flamingo he called his sister and said, “This is it.”
Bringing in a mediator
The two could not have guessed how hard it would be to work together again, with Donny confession he was no longer the dictator in the duo. He once said in an interview, “I’m dealing with somebody who is in control of her own career now.”
This meant that he could boss her around no more! The two decided to bring in director and choreographer Barry Leather to referee their working relationship.
Living separate lives
Much has changed since the days when they were so close 40 years ago. They have both said they don’t see much of each other outside of the show anymore.
While their dressing rooms are next door to each other, they don’t constantly hang out, contrary to what people might think. Outside of working hours, it’s extremely rare to see the two together. Donny said he would rather spend time with his wife and kids when he has the time off.
We hear about the outrageous habits of celebrities all of the time, but Donny Osmond has one for the ages. He loves to lick salt.
Marie reveals to interviewers about her brother’s weird habit, explaining “Donny licks the salt off pretzels before he eats them.” She continued to say that why he does this has never been explained, but it’s something he has done his entire life. At least Marie is fairly confident he eats them after he licks them instead of putting them back into the bag.
So much gold
Among other accolades, the Osmond family has an extensive collection of Gold Records, having earned gold four, count them, four times. The album, Leaving It All Up To You, was released in 1974 and was one of the first records to receive gold status. Featuring Songs was released in 1976 and had songs from their TV show also received gold.
Sadly, the Osmond pair hasn’t released an album since 2011 despite all of the performing they are doing again. We demand you get into the studio and make me another record!
Marie enjoyed the lap of luxury from a young age having had the amount of success she had at such a young age. It appeared as if she had a Louis Vuitton obsession seeing as she never was seen without one of their infamous bags on her person.
In between shows, Marie was seen sporting curlers in her hair, apple in hand and not care otherwise.
Donny’s family life
While Donny lived through some dark times in his family life, he has made it his mission not to let the same mistakes into his own family.
When he was 20 years old and uber-famous, Donny married Debra Glenn at Salt Lake Temple. The pair has five sons: Donald Clark Jr., Jeremy James, Brandon Michael, Christopher Glenn and Joshua Davis. The family is often seen together having the best of times, on vacation or on the way to church.
Donny on Broadway
Donny had a fair amount of success on the Broadway circuit, having appeared in a grand total of three plays. His biggest, by far, was Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in which he played the titular character.
He also played the lead in Little Johnny Jones. The most recent play he was in he took on the role as the evil Gaston, in Beauty and the Beast. From the photos, it looks like Donny reveled in the challenge of playing the bad guy for just a little while.
A secret crush
Donny appeared on The Kumars at No. 42 as a guest appearance and had no idea that he had a secret admirer just waiting to meet him.
Sanjeev Bhaskar, the star of the show, said that his wife had always wanted to marry Donny Osmond when she was young and even convert to Mormonism. With Donny on the show, Sanjeev joked that she could run off with him if she wanted, as her excitement erupted.
Many super fans have no idea, but Donny has starred in plenty of animated TV shows and movies over the years. His silky smooth voice is as good animated as it is on stage! One role nearly everyone has heard of is Captain Li Shang in Disney classic, Mulan.
In the film, he sings “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.” He was also on Cartoon Networks humungous hit Johnny Bravo and in The Osmonds in 1972.
Let’s take a break from Donny for a minute and focus on some of the other Osmond family members. Take Jimmy Osmond, the youngest of the Osmond family broke records in the UK which he still holds to this very day. The 1972 song, Long Haired Lover from Liverpool, reached number one in the UK singles charts when Jimmy was only 9 years old.
Jimmy was henceforth the youngest artist to reach the top spot in Britain. The boy, now a man, recalls sadly, “The home I grew up in was a string of hotels across the world. I don’t remember my first home, which was somewhere in Los Angeles.” Sad!
Saving up for hearing aids
Tom and George Virl Osmond, the oldest brothers, both born deaf. Olive and George Osmond, their parents, couldn’t afford to buy hearing aids and so the other brothers got together to perform and raise money for them.
This is how it all started, by going around from place to place trying to save for hearing aids. Darling, right? What’s even cuter is the Osmonds often signed during their performances to keep Tom and George up-to-speed.
Marie adopted a daughter named Jessica Blosil. Jessica came out as gay to Marie without mincing too many words, if Marie’s tell-all book is to be believed. When Marie was named person of the year by Diane Sawyer, she confessed that she cried when Jessica came out to her when she was 17 years old.
She claimed that she cried because of the judgment from other people, having many gay friends and saying, “I didn’t want that for my child.”
Resisting peer pressure
Donny was always made fun of for being uncool growing up. He could get any girl he wanted and be a serious rock and roller but thought he was too young and that it would tarnish his pious Mormon beliefs. He didn’t drink, do drugs, smoke cigarettes, curse or even have sex before he was married.
He has stated he is proud of himself for resisting the urges that come with fame and found himself giving advice to other upstart acts like Prince and Michael Jackson.
Keeping God first
God has had a special place in the lives of Donny and the rest of his family. They always say, “God comes first” in their everyday lives. Donny often gets asked the question of how he had stayed successful in the harsh world of show business to which he always replies, “God first.” Well, what’s second then? The family of course.
He said that this formula is what has helped them through the years, despite what others might have thought. Of his critics, he has said, “You’re not naive growing up in this business. I grew up fast.”
Marie, on the other hand, has seen her life go in ebbs and flows but remains meditative in the matter. Recently, it seems as if the lifetime star has found a serene peace with all that has happened to her. In one interview, she said she really didn’t have a childhood or a conventional dating life or friends for that matter.
At the same time, she states that “I don’t know that anyone’s life is perfect.” That’s a fantastic outlook for someone coming from her degree of experiences showing an acceptance that only comes with age.
Friends with MJ
Who do celebrities gravitate towards? Other celebrities of course. The limelight gave the Osmonds several famous friends-the most famous of which is quite possibly Michael Jackson. Donny was good friends with Jacko and fondly reflects on the time they spent together.
The best memory was after the American Music Awards when Donny was 17 where he asked MJ if he was hungry. The two took Donny’s limo to get tacos and ate them hanging out of the sunroof whilst driving down Sunset Boulevard.
Changing the lighting
Marie has her own set of requests and, well, demands when making TV appearances, but it is nothing crazy like only blue M&Ms in her green room. It has to do with the lighting, of all things.
Donny admitted that whenever the two do an interview, Marie asks for the lighting to be changed to make her look her best. While this might sound borderline Diva, it is actually very common and even down to earth stars make lighting demands.
No money made
As mentioned before, Jimmy Osmond was the UK’s youngest number one performer ever, but while you might think fame, fortune and millions of dollars followed, the Jimmy back then didn’t see a red cent from the sales of that album. Jimmy has said that show business is not fair although things are better now.
He went further stating, “We sold 100 million records and the money we made on record sales is peanuts.” The money made, he said, was comparable to what you would make just selling merchandise now.
Luckily for Jimmy, he did make some money- $80 million. This fortune came from live appearances, movies and TV shows and more.
This money that the family members made has funded their ventures, fed their families, bought mansions and nice cars, and pretty much allowed them to live very comfortable lives. It’s a shame that they barely made money from any of their record sales.
Diva dressing room
Marie has resisted the pitfalls so many stars struggle with and that is the ones where becoming a diva are involved. She did have a request (demand) before agreeing to perform at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. She wanted a larger dressing room.
She said it space was for all her kids and because she was basically living there. It is said that Marie constantly has 15 to 20 people in her dressing room along with her kids and dogs who occupy themselves by playing.
Jimmy loves cars, so when at the height of the family’s career, he would spoil himself a lot. He purchased his first house at age 14 apparently as a place to park all of the cars he was buying.
This is a photo of Jimmy with a DeLorean that is similar to the one he had in the 80s.
The purple socks
There were a lot of theories swirling around about why Donny was always wearing purple socks, including OCD and the chance they were his lucky charm.
Donny has shed light on all of it by revealing it was actually his mother’s idea for practicality. She came up with a system so that each child had their own colored socks so there would be no fights or confusion over which socks belonged to who. So as a tribute to his mother, Donny just always wears the purple.
Lessons from Lucille
When Marie was 16, Lucille Ball provided the star with a few tricks she learned in her long, illustrious career and they have stayed with her even up until now.
Marie was once a guest on Lucille’s show and Lucille taught the youngster a few things about makeup and lighting. This may be why Marie is so adamant about how she is lighted even to this day. Imagine getting pointers from an old pro like Lucille Ball!
Donny’s drug scandal
Oddly enough, Donny has said he received massive amounts of pressure to have a drug scandal to make him seem more of the rock star/TV personality. About this time Donny was signed by Virgin Records as a favor to Peter Gabriel, but his name wasn’t being announced on the radio after his songs played.
Donny stayed strong, adhering to his devout faith, and refused to go along with the publicity stunt and continued to remain clean.
Stealing Jay’s girl
As it so happens, the song Could She Be Mine? is more has an element of truth to it. In 1975, Donny dated a girl named Tammy and his brother a girl named Debbie.
They double-dated to an Elton John concert and during Your Song Donny looked a Debbie and thought, “I’m going to marry her someday.” After asking her out twice, Debbie finally agreed and the two have lived happily ever after. So maybe that’s where the idea for the song came from.
A different man
While Donny may seem like a wild man on stage, his home life could not be more different. When he is onstage, he focuses on being passionate at the moment with not even the huge projections of his face phasing him.
At home, it is a different story. He is a great family man. He is down to earth. He mows his own lawn whereas some stars might have that all done for them. He is even stated that he is quite the confident electrician at home.
Marie Osmond sells Nutrisystem
Marie’s weight has fluctuated at times, but the last time she noticed she was packing on some pounds she decided to do something about it for good. According to the ads she stars in, she had apparently lost a ton (not literally) of weight on a Nutrisystem diet.
Around the time she started this groundbreaking diet, she also began her stint on Dancing with the Stars, which required six hours of work from her per day. She also joined a running club.
Donny and Deborah have five sons
Donny and Debbie have five sons. Their names, as previously mentioned, are Brandon Michael Osmond, Donald Clark Osmond Jr., Jeremy James Osmond, Joshua Davis Osmond and Christopher Glenn Osmond.
The oldest son, Donny Jr. is nearly 20 years the senior of the youngest, Joshua. The second born son Jeremy was the first to get married and give Donny a grandchild while Brandon and Donny Jr. got married afterward.
Marie Osmond helps people with postpartum depression
After Marie gave birth to Brandon, her son, she thought she might have a case of the baby blues as they are commonly called. This common condition occurs after the hormones from the baby are no longer in the mother’s system, creating an imbalance.
However, in Marie’s case, the feelings didn’t go away in time as they are meant to do. It turned out that Marie was, in fact, suffering from postpartum depression. She now talks about the importance of women seeking treatment if they think they might have the same condition.
They began their careers in Disneyland
The Osmond family went to California to try to meet with record producers and executives in order to land a major record deal. An appointment with one such producer was canceled because of his busy schedule, so instead, George took everyone to Disneyland.
There, the kids saw the Dapper Dan Disney barbershop quartet and almost on cue, started singing with them. A crowd gathered, including Tommy Walker, who was the director of guest relations at the park. He asked if they wanted to sing at Disney After Dark that night.
They almost went bankrupt
In 1975, the family was on the verge of financial collapse, especially after two of their albums flopped. The family built a TV set close to their house in Utah for the Donny and Marie Show in an effort to rebuild their fan base and cash flow. Then that show got canceled by the network and had to do two more albums to cover the costs of their studio.
These, too, flopped and yet, instead of declaring bankruptcy, they paid back every cent they borrowed and forged ahead.
They only started selling CDs in 2008
This is perhaps the most surprising revelation of all. The Osmond family didn’t start releasing their music on CD until the first year of the Obama Administration!
That’s right, after 2008, they decided it was finally time to stop with the records and clue into the early 90s? Too bad MP3s had already taken the world by storm.
Alan Osmond chose the army over a mission
Alan Osmond decided to quit the band and go on a Mormon mission as many young adults in the church do, but while on it, something wasn’t right. He fasted and prayed for guidance for several days and after some soul searching, he realized the mission wasn’t for him.
In the end he didn’t go, instead electing to join the army and serve his country in Vietnam. He served as a Colonel’s secretary at a base stateside.
Boot camp awards
Alan wasn’t going to be in combat and he knew this, but everyone had to undergo basic training in the army. As it so happened, his years in the limelight may have given him an advantage in boot camp.
His knowledge of choreography helped with bayonet skills, the ruthless road schedule helped prepare him for being sleep deprived in boot camp, and he was an amazing shot. He made it out of basic training with three trophies.
David Osmond has MS
At the age of 26, David Osmond was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Donny's nephew and a singer in his own right was bound to a wheelchair for a time and could not walk without a cane. However, he did receive a massive shot of steroids, he could walk down the aisle to marry his fiancée.
Since the shot, David has felt much better and although pain is still part of his life, at least he is out of that wheelchair.
Jay Osmond wrote an autobiography
Jay Osmond was the drummer in the Osmond family band. Much later on in life, he wrote an autobiography entitled Stages where he weaves the reader through the different hardships and successes the family while on the road together throughout the 70s.
There are also anecdotes about people the family collaborated with, such as Elvis and The Beatles. The book was even formatted as a 'play’ on the meaning of stages.
Working with the Jackson 5
Believe it or not, Donny, Marie and the rest of the family weren't the only families performing together in the 70s. Another one of these extremely talented families was the Jackson Five from Gary, Indiana. The two acts used to coordinate shows together.
One time both families stayed at the same hotel in Toronto and the kids from each family played each other in American Football.
Family above all else
The Osmonds have grown exponentially in the last three generations. It all started with Olive and George. Since 2013, the family has exploded to nine children, 55 grandchildren and 70 great-grandchildren! That's a total of 124 family descendants! No one has been pressured into staying the music business.
Wayne kids have become doctors while others have gone on the successful career in academics and other areas.
Seeing the Osmonds
It used to be that people would climb over just about anything to get close to the Osmonds.
One bizarre story involved someone actually mailing herself to the family’s hotel room where the talented family was staying. Talk about a super fan!
Jimmy and Michael were good friends
Jimmy Osmond was actually good friends with Michael Jackson just like his brother Donny. Although the two families performed a lot together, they hung out a lot too.
It was due to this friendship, many songs written for one family might have traded hands to the other. Both families would watch the other's performance in order to get tips.
Secret agent Osmond
The fan interactions do get creepier though, much creepier. Like once when the family returned to their hotel room in Florida to rest after a performance for their adoring fans there and saw ropes hanging down to their hotel room balcony.
The family notified the lobby to see what could possibly be going on only to find out that two fans had climbed onto the roof and repelled down to their room!
Some people think that it may have been difficult for artists like the Osmonds to have musical influences because of how close-knit they all were and how they didn’t have CDs or MP3s back then.
The way they did it was by soaking up and appreciating all the music they heard on the numerous variety shows they went on. They paid attention to all genres and incorporated them all into their act.
Forget the bed, check under the stage
Yet another crazy happenstance a young girl did to meet the Osmonds was creep under the stage and hide there. Actually, really hid underneath the stage where the drum set stood and when the drummer was doing a solo, she sprung up and wrapped her arms around his legs.
Wait, did you think I meant backstage where she could have had the chance to meet the Osmonds? Haha, nope.
Trying to sing opera
Jimmy Osmond, again the youngest of the original nine children, was on British reality television show called Pop Star to Operastar, a program where they make old pop singers sing opera songs.
He stated that it was one of the most challenging things he has ever done, but also that he absolutely loved it. He sang the same way since he was three years old and said it was awesome to hear his voice in a different way.
Is there an Osmond family curse?
Although Marie is often credited with living the most difficulties in her life. This was further confirmed when her adopted son Michael committed suicide in 2010. The note he left that he wanted to end his depression demons and his ongoing fight with drugs and alcohol.
Marie attempted suicide in 2006 when she was suffering from postnatal depression. Rumors swirl about an Osmond family curse and whether it has been passed down to the next generation after having such difficult childhoods themselves.