Today, Donny is a 49-year-old father of five and a grandfather. He and his wife, Debbie, have been married for 29 years.
With 55 albums under his belt, he's singing to sold-out crowds and still making the ladies swoon, but Donny says being a teen heartthrob wasn't all it's cracked up to be. "It got to a point where there was so much adulation but I was very lonely," he says. "You saw the adulation and the screams [at the concerts] but you go to a very silent hotel room and, you know, being the Mormon that I am, I didn't have any premarital sex or anything like that so that was just out of the question."
When Donny did meet his wife, he had to date her secretly. "My wife dated my brother Jay for a while," he says. "And I kind of stole her from him."
It all started on a double date, Donny says. "We had more fun than our respective dates. So eventually I stole her away from Jay."
But not to worry, Jay found a "jewel," Marie says. "They're perfectly paired. It's interesting. As I watched all my brothers' marriages, they really complement each other," she says. "I promise you this, I wish my parents could raise every man out there. I have great brothers."
Donny and Marie say their father instilled values of honor and integrity into every member of the family. Both say that George was their rock and their strength.
It's an emotional time for the family, but Donny says they feel like George and Olive are watching over them. "We believe we're an eternal family. We know that we will be with our parents again. We know it. We don't just believe it. We know it," he says. "It's so comforting for us to know that we will be together again."
Marie says she can feel her father with her. "There's a warmth in your heart when the spirit speaks," she says. In fact, she says she felt it as she planned flowers for her dad's funeral. "I was sitting there and all of a sudden it was like, should we put flowers down all of the pews? And I swear, Oprah, it was like he said, 'Will you quit spending money?' I swear to you that was so like my dad. And I started laughing."
Donny says everyone is mourning the loss of his dad, but the family will continue to celebrate his life. "We celebrate our parents' lives both because what an example they were to all of us—to all of us on stage—of what a great couple, what a great relationship should be like. They didn't just talk the talk. They walked the walk," Donny says. "Isn't it interesting how two people can raise a family in show business, nine children, and we still love each other? We still have our problems. We still have our issues. We're a normal family. But the mere fact that we can all come together and still be a tight, close-knit family, that's a testimony to my parents."
This family's amazing journey began with The Osmond Brothers. Their remarkable rise to fame started in a small Utah town, where George and Olive Osmond raised their nine children in a house filled with music. Sons Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay say they remember singing during family road trips.
The four boys started singing at state fairs as the Osmond Brothers Quartet to raise money for the two oldest Osmond sons, Tom and Virl, who were born deaf and needed hearing aids.
On a family trip to Disneyland in 1961, the brothers sang along with a barbershop quartet on Main Street. That impromptu performance got them noticed by Walt Disney himself, who gave the boys their national television debut.
The family harmony then caught the attention of legendary singer Andy Williams, who put The Osmond Brothers on his show for seven years. Younger brothers Donny and Jimmy also got in on the act. Together, they could do it all. They sang, danced, ice skated and even had their own cartoon!
In the 1970s, Osmond mania packed concerts with thousands of screaming girls hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite brother. More than 77 million records later, what started out as a family singing in the back of a car is now a 50-year musical legacy.
Watch the Osmond Brothers perform "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother."
Now, The Osmond Brothers are back and singing their biggest hits for Oprah!
Although he is not part of The Osmond Brothers act, Virl is the big brother of the group—he is the oldest Osmond brother. He may not be a singer, but Virl is one of the reasons the family act began.
Next in line is Tom, known as the second "unsung" hero of the Osmond family.
"Can you imagine being born in this family and not being able to sing?" Marie says. "My two oldest brothers are my heroes."
Fourth in line is Wayne, know as the jokester of the family. He and his wife Kathlyn are growing the Osmond family tree with five children and three grandchildren.
Merrill is right in the middle of his siblings as the fifth Osmond child. He and his wife Mary have five children and four grandchildren.
Merrill shares the secret behind The Osmond Brothers' flashy dance moves. "We used to be instructors in karate and that's where some of the moves came from," Merrill says.
Jay is the youngest of the original Osmond Brothers group. Looking back at old clips of the group singing and dancing in flashy costumes, Jay is able to laugh at himself. "I can't believe we did that," he says. Not only was he a part of the group, he choreographed The Osmond Brothers and Donny and Marie's famous moves, including their signature kick! "Jay was the choreographer—that was his fault," Marie jokes.
Although the brothers laugh at their old moves, those memorable steps were loved by their fans. "It's interesting, little things Jay would do. We come to our concerts and people are doing those moves. It's kind of weird but so cool," Jimmy says.
Jay and his wife Kandilyn have three sons, the smallest Osmond clan. "We may be small, but we're tall," Jay says.
Jimmy is the youngest Osmond brother, but he's all grown up now with four children and a wife, Michelle. He is the mastermind behind the family's highly anticipated reunion tour, which will bring the Osmond brothers and Donny and Marie together on tour for the first time in 25 years. The tour begins this spring in the UK, and for those who miss it, the Osmond's 50th Anniversary Concert Special will air on PBS in March 2008.
After so many years in show business, do Jimmy and his brothers still remember all the dance moves? "Frighteningly so, we do," Jimmy says. Although the group can still perform their old songs to perfection, Jimmy says one thing has changed. "We dropped the bell-bottoms," he says. "We don't wear those anymore."
The Osmonds have been in the spotlight for 50 years but family has always been their number one priority, and George and Olive started it all. Their 60-year romance began on a dance floor during WWII. Marie and her Dancing with the Stars partner Jonathan take the stage to perform a tribute to her parents' love by dancing to "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."
At 48 years old, Marie shows she's in great shape—and her dancing brings a stronger message as well. "I did the show initially for my kids. But for women who find themselves like me, a single mom, you know, at 48...life is not over. I would rather climb a mountain than crawl in a hole," Marie says.
For the first time on stage the children and grandchildren of Viril, Tom, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Jimmy and Marie sing together. The Osmonds give George Osmond a final farewell by singing the signature sign-off written by Alan for the Donny and Marie Show
, a song meant to be a prayer to express the Osmonds' gratitude for their many blessings.
May tomorrow be a perfect day, may you find love and laughter along the way. May God keep you in his tender care, till he brings us together again.
Learn more about the Osmonds tour and music.
Go behind the scenes with the Osmond family!
Celebrate your family
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