Who Is Donny Osmond?
Donny Osmond was born in Odgen, Utah, on December 9, 1957. He started singing at quite a young age with his siblings, the Osmond Brothers. Due to a strong Mormon upbringing, Donny and his family had a clean-cut image. The performer became particularly well-known for his collaboration with his only sister on the popular '70s variety show Donny & Marie. He later starred on Broadway, had a No. 2 pop hit and appeared on a wide array of TV programs, including Pyramid and Dancing With the Stars.
Donald Clark Osmond was born on December 9, 1957, in Odgen, Utah. A natural entertainer, Donny began performing with his older siblings as part of the Osmond Brothers when he was a young child. Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay had already been singing together for years before adding Donny to the group.
In 1962, the Osmond Brothers appeared on The Andy Williams Show, which introduced the act to a national audience. They became regular guests, and Donny first joined his brothers on the program when he was 5 years old. Initially the group sang barbershop quartet style harmonies on religious material, but they later incorporated more popular tunes into their performances. Devoted to their Mormon faith, the Osmond Brothers were known for their conservative image.
Like Michael Jackson of The Jackson 5, Donny became the standout performer. He served as the lead vocalist on many of the group's tracks, including their first big hit, "One Bad Apple," which spent five weeks at the top of the pop charts in 1971. Then, billing themselves as the Osmonds, they had several more hits, including "Down by the Lazy River" and "Crazy Horses." For much of the early 1970s, the group developed an enthusiastic teenage fan base with some calling it "Osmondmania," after the earlier frenzy known as Beatlemania.
'Donny & Marie'
The popularity of the Osmonds eventually began to fade, though Donny went on to collaborate with sole sister Marie to great success. After the pair co-hosted The Mike Douglas Show in the mid-70s, they were granted their own variety show by ABC. Debuting in January 1976, Donny & Marie was an hour-long program filled with songs and skits. Marie was "a little bit country" while Donny was "a little bit rock 'n' roll," according to the lyrics of their iconic theme song.
In 1978, Donny and Marie also starred in their own feature film, Goin' Coconuts, which incorporated much singing and joking around—just like their variety show. The project failed to impress critics or movie audiences. That same year, Osmond married his girlfriend Debbie at the Salt Lake City Temple. The two had dated in secret to protect her from media attention—attention that was beginning to wane.
TV audiences had grown tired of the squeaky clean brother-sister act and their renditions of older, family friendly songs. Disco and more urban styles of music were all the rage, making the Osmonds seem out of step with the times. The show—then known as The Osmond Family Hour—left the air in May 1979.
Career Lull and 'Soldier of Love' Rebirth
After the show was cancelled, Osmond floundered professionally for many years. He was, as he has written on his website, "uncool to the max, a prisoner of my teenybopper past." In 1982, Osmond made his Broadway debut in Little Johnny Jones, but the musical revival immediately closed.
It wasn't until the late 1980s that Osmond was able to revive his music career with help from an unlikely source—Peter Gabriel. At the time, Gabriel was enjoying great reviews as well as achieving chart success with his innovative rock. The musician allowed Osmond to use his studio in Bath, England, where he recorded his comeback single.
Released in 1989, Osmond's "Soldier of Love" reached the No. 2 slot on the Billboard pop charts. The followup single, "Sacred Emotion," also did well, climbing to No. 13. Osmond had updated his image somewhat, trying to appear a little tougher by wearing a leather jacket and a few days worth of stubble.
Memoir and Host of 'Pyramid'
In 1998, Osmond returned to TV, again partnering with his sister to co-host a daytime talk show for two seasons. The following year, he added bestselling author to his list of accomplishments with the publication of Life Is Just What You Make It: My Life So Far.
In 2001, Osmond became a game show host for Pyramid, a new version of the Dick Clark popular classic $25,000 Pyramid. He garnered a Daytime Emmy nomination for his work in 2003.
That year's release of the Osmonds' greatest hits collection led to the brothers returning to the pop charts in the United Kingdom. Spurred on by the album's success, the siblings regrouped and did a U.K. tour. That same year, Donny and other members of the family received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
'Beauty and the Beast' and Las Vegas Residency
In 2006, Osmond returned to Broadway to appear as Gaston in the musical Beauty and the Beast. He then reunited with Marie to handle hosting duties for the 2008 Miss USA competition and for the reality show America's Favorite Mom.
The two also signed a deal for the Donny & Marie residency at Las Vegas's Flamingo Resort, beginning in September 2008. However, what started as a six-week engagement became one of the enduring shows on the Vegas Strip, lasting an impressive 11 years before the brother and sister duo signed off in November 2019.
Reality Star: 'Dancing' Champ and 'The Masked Singer'
In the meantime, Osmond won season 9 of the reality competition Dancing With the Stars in 2009, an achievement that gave him family bragging rights; Marie had finished third in season 5.
Ten years later, Osmond showed that he remained a formidable reality show competitor with his runner-up performance as the peacock in season 1 of The Masked Singer, an experience he raved about to the Deseret News.
Of the show's premise of having its singers in disguise, Osmond said, "What really appealed to me is that all 12 people check their resumes at the door. We all started over. And it didn't matter how many gold records or films or books. We all were the same.
"After 56 years of show business, you want to find things that are challenging and fun," he continued. "And this was definitely challenging because I had nothing to lean back on. I was just someone on stage, one of 12."
Wife and Children
Osmond lives in Utah with his wife, Debbie. The couple has five sons: Don, Jeremy, Brandon, Christopher and Joshua.
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