The Osmond Family: little known stories revealed

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The Osmond Family have been in the limelight for over four decades now, starting as a relatively unknown barbershop quartet and quickly becoming one of the most well-known families in the world. The Osmonds weren’t one single act, but a group of several acts such as The Osmonds and Donny & Marie.

And many of the Osmond family are still in the limelight now, in one form or another. The group first started with Wayne, Merrill, Alan, and Jay, the original barbershop quartet. Donny and Jimmy Osmond joined the group a little later on, creating The Osmonds pop band. It’s with The Osmonds that the family saw the most success until their sister Marie got involved. While she didn’t often sing with the boys, she carved out an impressive solo career at a young age.


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Donny & Marie soon followed a show featuring one of the most popular brothers and their only sister. While the Osmond family may have had an incredibly fascinating life, it’s also been one filled with darkness, trauma, and troubles. Not everything has been all fame and flashing lights for many of the Osmond family.

Success at such a young age can be a dangerous thing to handle, even with such stringent Mormon beliefs. While many avoided the temptation of drink, drugs, and the rock and roll lifestyle, this didn’t stop bad things from happening to many of the Osmond family members. Some suffered greatly with being in (or even out) of the limelight. Others were abused or faced a tough time from producers and management. The stories of the Osmond family are some of the best-kept secrets of all time. Some of which have only been briefly touched upon in interviews or in books written by family members. Let’s piece together some of those best-kept secrets and find out what the Osmond family are really all about.

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Meeting Groucho Marx

The Donny & Marie show was renowned for some of the incredible celebrity guest appearances throughout its run. While this may have been good publicity-wise, for the show, it wasn’t always so good for Marie. She remembers back when Groucho Marx was a celebrity guest and how he would pinch her. She went on to say “he was a dirty old man.” Not exactly the perfect environment for a young girl to be in.

Starved for fame

When she was only 15-years-old, Marie Osmond recalls how tough things were for her; particularly when it came to the pressures of staying thin. The pair were offered their own TV show, but producers threatened to cancel it if she didn’t lose weight. At the time she was just 103 pounds but stopped eating in order to get down to 97 pounds. She said producers said she was “obese, disgusting and a disgrace to my family.”

Donny, the nerd

Who knew that Donny Osmond was such a talented tech-lover? The secret video control room at the Flamingo (Las Vegas) was designed by Donny, along with various audio and computer systems backstage. All of the video montages in the show were put together by Donny when he wasn’t on the stage of course. Donny once said, “It’s my little world in here.” The star has admitted he’s a “total nerd,” specifically when it comes to Mac.

Behind the smile of Marie

In one of the most harrowing revelations of the century, Marie Osmond admitted she had a dark secret behind those angelic eyes and cute smile. In her book, Behind the Smile, Marie talks about the abuse she had to suffer with as a child. Dark stories of her privacy being invaded and, in her words, “most damaging, to be abused sexually.” Marie still refuses to say who her abuser was, only clearing her family members and close friends of any blame.

A seriously generous family

The church is one of the most important things in the Osmond Family’s lives, which is why 10% of their earnings has always gone to their church; a church that helps huge numbers of people across the globe. Donny also runs the Osmond Foundation for the Children of the World, while Marie plays a big part in the Children’s Miracle Network. This isn’t where their generosity stops, however, as the entire family are always giving to charity.

Bellagio bridge

At home, Donny is known as “Uncle Donny” to pretty much everyone that knows him. However, when his friends or kids that he works with come to visit Las Vegas, he has to show them that he’s “a little more than Uncle Donny right now.” He takes everyone who visits to the Bellagio bridge where you can see the huge Donny & Marie ad which is projected onto the flamingo. Just Donny’s eye on this projection are 6 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

Forget working 9 til 5

When the Donny & Marie show started in 1976, Donny was just 17 years old. He wasn’t working a 9 til 5 job like most other 17-year-olds, however. In fact, the schedule for the Osmond siblings was so intense it would put most other celebrities to shame. The pair were known to work 20-hour days, having to learn new songs, new dance routines, and dozens of different scripts. There was never even a hint of exhaustion on either of their faces, however, which is pretty impressive.

Donny not Donnie

No one likes their name being spelled wrong, and Donny Osmond was no exception. It infuriated him when people spelled his name with an ‘ie’ instead of with a ‘y’ on the end. The crew at the Flamingo thought it would be a hilarious prank to spell it wrong on the gold star on his dressing room door, which we’re sure Donny didn’t appreciate. However, as a forgiving Mormon he also probably let the prank go.

Dancing on the tables

As a born performer, Donny Osmond is known for going all out during his performances. Marie Osmond, during an interview, has spoken about how her brother does get carried away sometimes, especially when it comes to dancing on the tables. Her top tip? “Hold on to your beverage.” If you ever go and see a show, and are sitting at the front, you’re best off getting your drinks in plastic cups!

Donny’s day

Ever wondered what a day in the life of Donny Osmond looks like? According to sources, he’s awake at 6 am to drive his son to the airport (after just 4 hours of sleep). His business manager gets a call before Donny tries to squeeze in another hour of sleep, and then it’s time to record for his Disney cartoon show. Next up, he works out, before doing his show with Marie. On tour, his schedule is slightly different as it’s basically bus, rehearsals, show, repeat. He does try and squeeze in some reading on the bus, however.

Keeping healthy

According to Marie Osmond, she lost around 47 pounds during the Flamingo Show in Las Vegas and her stint on Dancing with the Stars. We can imagine it was hard work! However, Marie isn’t bitter about the hard work saying, “I had to be healthy. Heart disease runs in my family.” She goes on to say that both her mom and grandmother died of heart disease, and her dad had two pacemakers. Her realization came as her son turned to her and said, “Mom, you’re all we have.”

Losing inches

Turns out that Marie isn’t the only one who has seen a change in physique over the years. Donny has seen a two-inch loss from his waistline since the Donny & Marie show started at the Flamingo in Vegas. This 90-minute variety act is seriously intense at times, meaning that Donny gets both his cardio and leg workout from just performing. He does, however, get a full workout at the gym, so he’s not just skin and bones.

Going solo

Donny and Marie haven’t always been the formidable twosome that they were back in the 70s and again now in Vegas. Back in the 1980s, the pair decided to go their separate ways in order to establish careers as solo artists. We missed the Osmonds together, so were over the moon when they decided to team back up in their Las Vegas show. Donny admitted that he knew they would always get back together and when he saw the Flamingo he “called Marie and said, ‘this is it.’”

Bringing in a mediator

The pair found it more difficult than they imagined working together again, with Donny admitting he was no longer the dictator in the twosome. In an interview, he said, “I’m dealing with somebody who is in control of her own career now,” – meaning he couldn’t just boss her around! The pair decided to bring in Barry Leather (the director and choreographer) to act as the mediator or arbitrator in their working relationship.

Living separate lives

Unlike the closeness of the pair back in the 70s, they’ve admitted they don’t see much of each other outside of stage time. Their dressing rooms may be next to each other, but that doesn’t mean they’re constantly hanging out. Even outside of working hours it’s rare to find Donny and Marie together. Donny said when he has time off he would rather go home and see his wife and kids, which makes sense.

Weird habits

We’re no stranger to hearing about the weird habits of celebrities, but Donny Osmond has one of the kookiest. He likes to lick salt! Marie Osmond told interviewers about her brother’s strange habit, saying “Donny licks the salt off pretzels before he eats them.” She went on to say there’s no real reason for this, but it’s one of the usual rituals he’s done for most of his life. We wonder if he puts the pretzels back once he’s finished licking them?

So much gold

The Osmond family have a pretty impressive collection of Gold Records; having received gold certification a whopping four times. Their album, Leaving It All Up To You, released in 1974 was one of the first to receive the gold status. Featuring Songs, released in 1976 and featuring songs (get it) from their TV show was the next to receive its gold status. Unfortunately, the Osmond siblings haven’t released an album since 2011, despite the pair still working together regularly. We want another record!

Material girl

Marie was used to living a rather lavish lifestyle from a very young age, having reached the dizzying heights of stardom early. It’s thought the starlet had a little bit of a Louis Vuitton obsession, considering she was always papped with one of their famous bags in her hand or on her shoulder. In between shows, Marie looked forever glam, even with curlers in her hair and an apple in her hand. How does she do it?!

Donny’s family life

Even though Donny had been through some terrible things in his own family life, it didn’t stop him from trying to bring up his own happy family. When he was 20 years old, and at the height of his career, Donny married Debra Glenn at Salt Lake Temple. The pair then had five children together, all sons; Donald Clark Jr., Jeremy James, Brandon Michael, Christopher Glenn, and Joshua Davis. The entire clan are often seen together having an incredible time, whether it be on vacation or going to church.

Donny on Broadway

Donny Osmond enjoyed a fairly successful time on the stages of Broadway, having appeared in no less than three shows. His biggest parts were in Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat where he played the lead role, and again as the lead in Little Johnny Jones. His most recent production saw him take on the role of baddy Gaston, in Beauty and the Beast. By the looks of this photo, Donny quite enjoyed being the bad guy, even if just for a short while.

A secret crush

When Donny appeared on The Kumars at No. 42 as a special guest, little did he know there was a secret admirer in his midst? Sanjeev Bhaskar, the star of the show, said that his wife had always planned to marry Donny Osmond when she was younger – and even convert to Mormonism. When Donny appeared on the show, Sanjeev joked to her that she could run off with him if she wanted, as she was so excited.

Getting animated

You might not know it, but Donny has lent his voice to plenty of animated TV shows and movies over the years. Turns out his voice sounds just as good animated as it does in real life! One of his most impressive roles was as the voice of Captain Li Shang in Mulan, where he sings “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.” He also featured in Cartoon Network’s smash hit Johnny Bravo, and in The Osmonds back in 1972.

Breaking records

Jimmy Osmond, the youngest of the Osmond family, broke records in the UK; a record he still holds to this day. His 1972 song, Long Haired Lover From Liverpool, reached number one in the UK singles charts when he was just 9-years-old. This made Jimmy the youngest performer to reach the top spot in Britain. Jimmy, however, remains wistful about his childhood. He once said, “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.” Aww!

Saving up for hearing aids

Tom and George Virl Osmond, the oldest brothers in the family, were both born deaf. Olive and George Osmond, the parents, couldn’t afford hearing aids and so gathered the other brothers together to perform and raise money for them instead. This is how the entertainment careers of the Osmonds started, by traveling around trying to raise money for hearing aids. Cute, right? What’s even cuter is that the Osmonds often used sign language in their performances to keep their older brothers in the loop.

Coming out

Marie has an adopted daughter, Jessica Blosil, who came out as gay to Marie very matter of factly, according to Marie’s book. When Marie was named Person of the Year by Diane Sawyer, she admitted that she cried when Jessica first came out to her when she was just 17. She said that she cried because of the judgment from others, having lots of friends who were members of the LGBT community, and saying, “I didn’t want that for my child.”

Resisting peer pressure

Donny was often mocked for being so uncool as he was growing up. He could have had any girl he wanted or been seriously rock and roll, but felt as though he was too young and that it would go against his devout Mormon principles. He didn’t drink, take drugs, smoke, swear or even do the deed before he got married. Donny has admitted he’s proud of himself for resisting, as he found that troubled stars often looked to him for advice (including Michael Jackson and Prince).

Keeping God first

Both Donny and the rest of his family have always said that “God comes first” in their lives. Donny is often asked how he has managed to maintain his success, in which he almost always answers, “God first.” And what’s second? His family of course. He has said that this formula has helped them through a lot of things, despite people thinking he was naive. Of his critics, he’s said, “you’re not naive growing up in this business. I grew up fast.”

Finding peace

Marie Osmond has had her fair share of ups and downs throughout her life, but she seems quite philosophical in the matter. In recent interviews, it seems as though the starlet has found peace. She once said that she didn’t really have a childhood, nor a typical dating life or friends. However, she’s said, “I don’t know that anyone’s life is perfect.” That’s quite a smart way of looking at things, which shows how much Marie has matured over the years.

Friends with MJ

Living life in the spotlight often meant that the Osmonds grew up with famous friends – the most famous of which was Michael Jackson. Donny was good friends with MJ and often looks back on their time together fondly. One of his favorite memories was after the American Music Awards when he was just 17 where he asked Michael Jackson if he was hungry. The pair jumped into Donny’s limo, ordered tacos, and drove down Sunset Boulevard hanging out of the sunroof eating tacos.

Changing the lighting

Marie has her very own demands when it comes to stage and interviews, but it’s not something like only red M&Ms in her dressing room. It’s all to do with the lighting! Donny once revealed that whenever they do an interview, Marie specifically asks for the lighting to be changed in a way that suits her. This isn’t really diva behavior as such, considering lighting and shadows can make such a big difference to one’s face.

No money made

Jimmy Osmond was the UK’s youngest ever number one performer, so you’d imagine he made a fortune from the million copies sold. However, the then nine-year-old didn’t see a penny from the sales of his record. Jimmy has been quoted as saying that show business is not a fair business, although things are different now. He said, “we sold 100 million records, and the money we made on record sales is peanuts.” He compared what they made back then to what you’d make now, even just selling merchandise.

Performance fees

Luckily, Jimmy did make some money – a whopping $80 million, in fact. This fortune was amassed from live performances, and the movies and TV shows they were in. The money the family has made through their live entertainment has allowed them to fund their other ventures, feed their families, and live a pretty comfortable life. It’s just such a shame that they barely made a cent from any of their record sales.

Diva dressing room

Marie Osmond has tried not to become a diva throughout her decades of fame, but she did have one request when agreeing to perform at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. She wanted the larger dressing room. Admittedly, she said it was simply because she had more kids and needed the space to practically live there. It’s said that Marie’s dressing room is constantly filled with 15-20 people, along with her kids and dogs, playing around and having fun.

Jimmy’s motors

Jimmy Osmond has always had a bit of a thing for cars, so when the family were at the height of their career, he would splash out often. He also bought his first house when he was just 14-years-old, presumingly needing somewhere to stash all of the cars he was buying. The photo below shows Jimmy with a DeLorean that is similar to the one he bought in the 1980s.

The purple socks

There were many conspiracy theories as to why Donny Osmond always wore purple socks; from OCD through to them being his lucky charm. However, Donny has since admitted that it was his mother’s idea for practicality. She came up with the format of providing each child one color sock, so people could tell who was who. It just so happened that Donny’s was purple – and we love him for it!

Lessons from Lucille

When Marie turned 16, Lucille Ball offered Marie a trick or two that has stuck with the Osmond daughter forever. When Marie was a guest star on Lucille’s show, she was waved over by the star herself who offered to teach her a few things about makeup and lighting. This could be why Marie now has to have her lighting in a certain way during interviews and stage performances. Imagine getting showbiz lessons from Lucille Ball!

Donny’s drug scandal

Shockingly, Donny has told interviewers that he was constantly pressured into having a drugs scandal to make him “more credible.” This was around the time Virgin Records signed Donny as a favor to Peter Gabriel, and his name wasn’t being announced on the radio after his songs were played. Luckily, Donny stuck true to his Mormon roots and refused to play any part of the PR game, staying clean his whole life.

Stealing Jay’s girl

Remember the song, Could She Be Mine? Turns out it’s a lot more true to life than we once thought. In 1975 Donny was seeing a girl called Tammy, and his brother was seeing a girl named Debbie. The pair went on a double-date to see Elton John, and during the Your Song performance Donny looked over at Debbie thinking, “I’m going to marry her someday.” After asking her out twice, Debbie finally agreed, and the pair have been happily together ever since.

A different man

Donny sounds like the perfect family man, after admitting he’s completely different on-stage compared to at home. At work, he believes he’s passionate and focused; not even a huge billboard with his face on phases him. However, at home, he’s a real family man. He’s laid back, he mows the lawn, and he doesn’t have staff running around after him at all. He’s even admitted to being quite handy as an electrician at home.

Marie Osmond sells Nutrisystem

Marie Osmond was looking a little plumper when she realized that she needed to slim down for both her health as well as her career. And according to the commercials, she allegedly lost dozens of pounds on the nutrisystem diet. However, at around the same time she started on the diet, she also started performing on Dancing with the Stars which required her to work out six hours a day, as well as joined a running club.

Donny and Deborah have five sons

Donny Osmond and his wife Deborah have five sons together; Brandon Michael Osmond, Donald Clark Osmond, Jr., Jeremy James Osmond, Joshua Davis Osmond, and Christopher Glen Osmond. The oldest of the sons, Donald, is nearly 20 years older than his youngest brother Joshua. The second born son was the first to get married and give Donny a grandchild, while Brandon and Donald Jr. got married later on.

Marie Osmond helps people with postpartum depression

After the birth of her child Brandon, Marie thought she had a typical case of the baby blues, which occurs after the hormones from the baby are not longer there, creating a hormonal imbalance within the mother. However, the feelings did not go away, and it turned out that she was suffering from postpartum depression. Marie now talks about it extensively, and encourages women to go seek treatment the moment they think that they may have it.

They began their careers in Disneyland

The Osmond family went out to Los Angeles in order to try and meet with record executives and land a major record deal. However, the day that they were supposed to meet with the record producer, the producer was busy, so father George took them to Disneyland. The kids saw the Dapper Dan Disney barbershop quartet and began singing with them. They attracted a crowd, including Tommy Walker, who was the director of guest relations at the park. He asked them to sing in Disney After Dark that night.

They almost went bankrupt

By 1975 the family wasn’t doing so well financially, especially after two of their albums flopped. Therefore, the Osmond family decided to build a TV set close to their home in Utah and get back into the spotlight with The Donny and Marie Show. They then got cancelled by the television network, and then tried to do two more studio albums to cover the costs of the studio they built. However, these also flopped. Yet they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and repaid all their debts instead of declaring bankruptcy.

They only started selling CDs in 2008

Did someone buy you an Osmund Band CD anytime in the last 15 years? You might want to check out when that CD was made, because there is a good chance it is fake. The only way people were able to get a hold of Osmund CDs before 2008 was if they were bought illegally. After 2008, the family decided that it would be a good idea to finally start selling their music on the new form of media. Too bad that MP3s already existed by then.

Alan Osmond chose the army over a mission

Alan Osmond decided that he would quit the band and go on a Mormon mission trip. However, something didn’t feel right. He fasted and prayed for several days, and at the end of it, he felt that the mission trip was not right for him. He decided not to go, and so he decided to join the military to go to Vietnam. He had an interview with a Colonel, and he was picked to be the Colonel’s secretary at a base close to home.

Boot camp awards

Alan knew that he was not going to physically fight, but everyone has to go through basic training in the army. It turns out that his years in show business prepared him for boot camp, which made it a breeze for him. His choreography skills helped him with bayonet training, his band’s ruthless schedule helped him when he was sleep deprived in training, and he was also an amazing shot. Alan would come out of basic training with three trophies.

David Osmond has MS

David Osmond was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 26. The singer and nephew to Donny Osmond actually was wheelchair bound for a time and could not even walk without a cane. However, after a huge shot of steroids so that he could walk down the aisle and marry his fiance. After the shot, he has felt much better, and while he still feels pain, he is no longer wheelchair bound by it.

Jay Osmond wrote an autobiography

Jay Osmond was the drummer for the Osmond family band, and he wrote an autobiography titled Stages. In the book, Jay tries to take the reader through the different challenges the family faced while they were on the road throughout the 1970s, as well as what it was like working with the people the band collaborated with, including Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Jay Osmond actually wrote the book like a play due to all the stages the family performed on.

Working with the Jackson 5

The Osmonds were not the only musical performing family around in the 1970s. Another musically talented family was the Jackson Five, hailing all the way from Gary, Indiana. The Jackson Five and the Osmond Family used to coordinate shows together. In fact, one time when the two families were staying at the same hotel in Toronto, Canada, the kids of both families decided to have a big football game against each other.

Family above all else

The Osmond family has grown to be quite large over the last three generations. From Olive and George Osmond came nine children, and as of 2013, they had 55 grandchildren, and approximately 70 great grandchildren (equalling 124 descendants). However, no one has been pressured to stay in the music business, with Wayne Osmond’s children becoming doctors and Phds, and another daughter actually publishing Wayne’s book Laugh Lines.

Seeing the Osmonds

People used to want to meet the Osmonds so much that they would do literally anything to get close to them. One of the craziest things that someone did in order to get to physically touch this musical, singing family was when someone literally mailed herself to the hotel room where the Osmonds were staying. Wow, talk about a committed fan base.

Jimmy and Michael were good friends

Jimmy Osmond was actually quite good friends with Michael Jackson of the Jackson Five. Not only did the two families perform at the same time, but so too did they hang out together quite a lot. And through that friendship he learned that many songs written for the Jackson were given to the Osmonds and vice-versa. In fact, both families would watch each other on the variety shows in order to get tips.

Secret agent Osmond

In another, somewhat creepier moment, there was a time when the Osmond family was in Florida performing for their fans there. At the end of the show, when the whole family was going back to the hotel to sleep, they all of a sudden noticed ropes hanging down on their hotel room balcony. The family called the lobby to see what it was. It turns out it was two fans who had climbed up onto the roof and were repelling down to their room.

Good influences

Many people believe that it must have been difficult for these family artists such as the Osmonds to have “musical influences” given the fact that they were so closely knit to each other, and because they did not have things like CDs or MP3s. But the way that these people would get exposed to different kinds of music was by going on various variety shows and hearing all different kinds of genres and incorporating them into their own acts.

Forget the bed, check under the stage

Another crazy thing that a young girl did in order to meet the Osmonds was hide under the stage. Now, we know what you must be thinking – she must have hidden BACKstage and gotten to meet the Osmonds that way. NOPE. She actually legitimately hid underneath the band’s drum set, and when the drummer was in the middle of his solo, she popped up and wrapped her arms around his legs.

Trying to sing opera

The youngest of the Osmond brothers Jimmy Osmond was on a British reality television show called Pop Star to Operastar, a show where they take pop musicians and teach them to sing opera. He said it was one of the most difficult things he had ever done, but he said that he loved it. He had been singing the same way since he was three years old, and he says that it was incredible to hear his voice differently.

Is there an Osmond family curse?

Marie is known for having her fair share of difficulties in life. However, she never expected her adopted son Michael to take his own life in 2010. His suicide note said that he wanted to end his depression demons and his battle with alcohol and drugs. Marie also attempted to take her own life back in 2006, when suffering from postnatal depression. Many people wonder if the family is cursed, or have passed down their troubles to their own children, having had such tough upbringings themselves.

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