An Osmond Family Tribute
Sadly, the patriarch of the Osmond family passed away on November 6, 2007. George Osmond Sr. was 90 years old.
More than 100 Osmonds had already been invited to appear on The Oprah Show, and the family decided that it was important for the show to go on.
See how we got all of the Osmonds to Chicago.
"Donny called us to say the family would be here and that this show would be in honor of their dad," Oprah says. "He also told us that they wanted this show to be a celebration of the life of his dad, so they're here today to take us on a once-in-a-lifetime trip down memory lane."
Their older brothers—Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay—paved the way as regulars on the legendary Andy Williams Show. Donny made his solo debut at age 5 and wowed Andy's viewers. When Donny joined his brothers' famous group, Osmond mania swept the globe and his career skyrocketed.
Donny and Marie were launched as a twosome in 1975. An ABC executive was so impressed, he signed the teens to a primetime deal. In 1976, the squeaky clean siblings made history as the youngest entertainers ever to host their own variety show and Friday nights became synonymous with Donny and Marie. It was four solid seasons of family fun with guest appearances by the Osmond Brothers and the biggest stars of the day.
Relive the memories as Donny and Marie sing "A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock and Roll."
Thirty years later, Donny and Marie perform together again, singing a medley of their biggest hits on Oprah's stage!
Her sassy style on The Donny and Marie Show got Hollywood's attention. She went on to star in TV movies and opened to sold-out crowds on Broadway in The King and I.
Today, Marie presides over a multimillion dollar doll empire. The Olive doll, named after her mother, broke QVC sales records.
Still, her proudest creation is her family. She has eight children, ages 5 to 24.
Marie's personal ups and downs have played out in the spotlight. In 1999, she revealed her secret struggle with postpartum depression on The Oprah Show and in her New York Times best-seller, Behind the Smile. In spring 2007, Marie also announced she's divorcing her husband of 20 years.
Marie says her fainting was related to the fierce wildfires in California. "Well, I had allergies and I wasn't doing my breathing thing because I wasn't singing, right? But the air quality because of the fires ... our dressings rooms were outside, our hair, our makeup, and I got out there and I couldn't breathe," she says. "I woke on the floor and I saw my kids around me because my older ones were there, and I saw Jonathan, my partner who I dance with, and then I saw [Dancing with the Stars host] Tom Bergeron and I went, 'Oh, crap. What happened?'"
Marie—a self-proclaimed Daddy's little girl—had dedicated her dance on Dancing with the Stars to her father the night before he died. "He saw it that night and they said he got up the next morning and it was one of the best days he had," she says. "He took a shower, he sat down on his bed, he laid down with a smile and he passed away. And he wanted to dance with my mom. So he moved on."
Marie's mom, Olive, died on Mother's Day in 2004. "He didn't want to be outdone," she jokes. "He wanted to be talked about on Oprah."
Despite the family's pain, Marie says everyone is grateful for the chance to be together on the show. "This is a rare moment. We won't always have everybody. There will be a few that have to work or whatever," she says. "And this kind of an opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime."
To thank Oprah for that opportunity, Marie has a special gift for her—a one-of-a-kind doll of Oprah as a child. "We love you as a family," she says. "I'm a child advocate with Children's Miracle Network. You're a child's advocate. Who knew that that little baby would do so much to change the world?"
With his puppy dog eyes and million dollar smile, Donny Osmond was one of the biggest teen heartthrobs of the 1970s. Then, Donny met a nice girl named Debbie and got married. No longer America's most eligible bachelor, some disappointed fans burned his albums in protest.
In the years that followed, near bankruptcy, a faltering music career and a failed attempt at Broadway threatened to destroy this golden boy's image...but not for long. In 1989, a breakthrough hit called "Soldier of Love" put him back on the charts. His six-month run starring in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was so spectacular, it got extended to six years.
Yet behind the scenes, Donny battled debilitating panic attacks and anxiety. He wrote about his struggles in a best-selling autobiography, Life Is What You Make It.
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."
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."
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!
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."
Watch Alan's sons perform "I May Never Pass This Way Again."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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!
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