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Donald Clark "Donny" Osmond (born December 9, 1957) is an American singer, musician, actor, dancer, radio personality, and former teen idol. Osmond has also been a talk and game show host, record producer and author. In the mid-1960s, he and four of his elder brothers gained fame as The Osmonds, on the long-running variety program, The Andy Williams Show. Donny went solo in the early 1970s, covering such hits as "Go Away Little Girl" and "Puppy Love".
For over thirty-five years, he and younger sister Marie have gained fame as Donny & Marie, partly due to the success of their 1976–79 self-titled variety series, which aired on ABC. The duo also did a 1998–2000 talk show and have been headlining in Las Vegas since 2008. Between a highly successful teen career in the 1970s, and his rebirth in the 1990s, Osmond's career was stymied during the 1980s by what some have perceived as his "boy scout" image. Osmond stated on the May 1, 2009 Larry King Live show that longtime friend Michael Jackson suggested he change his name to boost his image. Osmond's agent even suggested that spreading false rumors about drug arrest charges might recharge his career. Osmond felt such allegations would have familial ramifications, and could not reconcile how lying to create a nefarious drug image could be explained to his children, nieces and nephews. In 1989, Osmond had two big-selling recordings, the first of which, "Soldier of Love", was initially credited to a "mystery artist" by some radio stations.
Starting in July 1992, Osmond played Joseph in the Elgin Theatre's Toronto production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The musical then toured North America until 1998. Creator Andrew Lloyd Webber, impressed by Osmond's talents and the show's successful six-year run, chose him for the 1999 film version.
In 2009, Osmond won the ninth season of Dancing with the Stars.
Osmond was born in Ogden, Utah, the seventh son of Olive May Osmond (née Davis) and George Virl Osmond. He is the brother of Alan, Jay, Jimmy, Merrill, Wayne, Marie, Tom, and Virl Osmond. Alan, Jay, Merrill, Wayne, and Donny were members of the popular singing group The Osmonds (also known as The Osmond Brothers which later included tracks with youngest brother Jimmy as well). Donny was raised as a Mormon in Utah along with his siblings. Osmond later traced his family ancestry back to Merthyr Tydfil in Wales; his journey was documented in a BBC Wales program, Donny Osmond Coming Home. On the BBC's The One Show, a plaque was unveiled in the town to commemorate 'the ancestors of Donny Osmond'.
Teen idol: 1971–1978
The father of Andy Williams, Jay, saw the Osmond Brothers (Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay) perform on a Disneyland televised special as a barbershop quartet. In short order, the group was invited to audition for The Andy Williams Show. Williams initially had reservations about featuring children on the program, however, encouraged by his father to try them out, they proved in a short period of time to become an asset to the program, and soon became regulars on the show and gained popularity quickly. Donny made his debut on the show at the age of 5 singing "You Are My Sunshine". The brothers continued to perform on the show throughout the 1960s along with a visit from their sister Marie. In the early 1970s, the Osmonds, via recording and virtually constant touring, sold over 80 million records in a single 12-month period, making them the most successful, and fatigued, of the early Seventies touring groups.
Donny became a teen idol in the early 1970s as a solo singer, while continuing to sing with his older brothers. Donny, Bobby Sherman, and David Cassidy were the biggest "Cover Boy" pop stars for Tiger Beat magazine in the early 1970s. His first solo hit was a cover of Roy Orbison's 1958 recording of "Sweet and Innocent", which peaked at No. 7 in the U.S. in 1971. Donny's follow-ups "Go Away Little Girl" (1971) (U.S. #1), "Puppy Love" (U.S. #3), and "Hey Girl/I Knew You When" (U.S. #9) (1972) vaulted him into international fame, further advanced by his 20 November 1972 appearance on the Here's Lucy show, where he sang "Too Young" to Lucille Ball's niece, played by Eve Plumb, and sang with Lucie Arnaz ("I'll Never Fall in Love Again").
In the 1980s, Osmond re-invented himself as a solo vocal artist and abandoned the earlier television show image crafted to appeal to young viewers. He made an unlikely appearance as one of several celebrities and unknowns auditioning to sing for guitarist Jeff Beck in the video for Beck's 1985 single "Ambitious", followed in 1986 by an equally unlikely cameo in the animated Luis Cardenas music video "Runaway". He spent several years as a performer, before hiring the services of music and entertainment guru Steven Machat, who got Osmond together with Peter Gabriel to see whether Machat and Gabriel could turn the TV Osmond's image into a contemporary young pop act. They succeeded, returning Osmond to the US charts in 1989 with the Billboard Hot 100 No. 2 song "Soldier of Love" and its top twenty follow-up "Sacred Emotion". The campaign to market "Soldier Of Love" received considerable airplay with the singer being presented as a "mystery artist" before his identity was later revealed. Launching an extensive tour in support of the Eyes Don't Lie record, he enlisted Earth Wind & Fire and Kenny Loggins guitarist Dick Smith along with keyboardist Marc Jackson.
Donny was often reluctant to perform his earliest songs, in particular "Go Away Little Girl", but was convinced to sing the song live for KLOS-FM's Mark & Brian Christmas Show on December 21, 1990. Now he embraces his initial recording period with fondness, and recognizes that his many fans around the world are always excited and appreciative to hear his earliest chart successes.
Current music career: 1991–2010
Osmond was the guest vocalist on Dweezil Zappa's star-studded version of the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" which appeared on Zappa's 1991 album Confessions. The song also included guitar solos from Zakk Wylde, Steve Lukather, Warren DeMartini, Nuno Bettencourt, and Tim Pierce. Osmond sang "No One Has To Be Alone", but the song was heard at the end of the film The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water. He also sang "I'll Make a Man Out of You" for Disney's Mulan.
In the 2000s, he released a Christmas album, an album of his favorite Broadway songs, and a compilation of popular love songs. In 2004, he returned to the UK Top 10 for the first time as a solo artist since 1973, with the George Benson-sampling "Breeze On By", co-written with former teen idol Gary Barlow, from the 1990s UK boy band Take That, reaching number 8.
Donny & Marie in Las Vegas
Following Marie's stint on Dancing with the Stars in 2007, the pair teamed up for a limited engagement in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Las Vegas. Beginning September 2008, Donny and Marie began playing the 750-seat showroom at the Flamingo Hotel. "Donny & Marie" is a 90-minute show. The singing siblings are backed by eight dancers and a nine piece band. Donny and Marie sing together at the beginning and end of the show, and have solo segments in between. Donny and the show earned three of the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Best of Las Vegas Awards in 2012 including "Best Show", "Best All-Around Performer" (Donny & Marie), and "Best Singer". Donny earned "Best Singer" for a second time in the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Best of Las Vegas Awards in 2013.
Film, radio and television
Donny & Marie
In the mid-1970s, he and Marie co-hosted The Mike Douglas Show for a week, and were later offered a show of their own, The Donny & Marie Show, a television variety series which aired on ABC between 1976 and 1979. Donny felt that their program should have been continued for at least another television season, and has expressed regret that the show was cancelled, as opposed to them deciding when to bring the show to conclusion.
Donny and Marie also co-hosted a talk show together 20 years later. Though ratings were high and they were nominated for an Emmy award for best talk show, the series was ultimately canceled. In a 1999 episode featuring Jefferson Starship promoting their album Windows of Heaven, the hosts performed a rendition of "Volunteers" live with the band.
Other hosting opportunities
Osmond went on to host Pyramid, a syndicated version of the Dick Clark-hosted television game show that ran two seasons in the US from 2002 to 2004, and a British version of Pyramid on Challenge in 2007.
Osmond returned to ABC as host of The Great American Dream Vote, a prime-time reality/game show that debuted in March 2007. After earning lackluster ratings in its first two episodes, the program was cancelled.
Osmond hosted the British version of the game show Identity on BBC Two during the daytime.
On April 11, 2008, Osmond also hosted the 2008 Miss USA pageant along with his sister Marie from Las Vegas.
Osmond appeared on Entertainment Tonight as a commentator covering the ABC show Dancing with the Stars during his sister Marie's run as a contestant on the 5th season of the American version of the popular show in Fall of 2007. He was seen at week 7 of the competition in tears in the audience watching Marie do a rumba after his and Marie's father died.
In January 2010 it was announced that Osmond would host his own syndicated radio show in a deal with McVay Syndication and Citadel Media. Versions of The Donny Osmond Show now air across America, Canada, Australia and the UK.
The show is already rating No. 1 in numerous markets and is currently one of the fastest growing radio propositions.
The UK edition of the show is co-produced by London-based radio production & syndication company Blue Revolution. Through this partnership the first UK network to carry The Donny Osmond Show is Celador-owned The Breeze, which has outlets in Portsmouth, Southampton, Isle of Wight, Winchester, Bridgwater & West Somerset, Bristol, Bath and Warminster. As of January 2012, The Donny Osmond Show is no longer broadcasting on The Breeze.
From April 2012 Smooth Radio carried The Donny Osmond Show on Sunday evenings. It aired until April 2013 when Donny Osmand decided to leave the station.
Osmond's name was used in the lyrics of Alice Cooper's song "Department of Youth" near the end. Cooper asks the kids doing the background vocals "who gave them the power", where the kids reply "Donny Osmond". Cooper then responds with an outraged "What?"
His first foray into Broadway musical theater was the lead role in a revival of the 1904 George M. Cohan show Little Johnny Jones. Osmond replaced another former teen idol, David Cassidy, who left the show while it was on its pre-Broadway tour. After 29 previews and only 1 performance, the show closed on March 21, 1982.
Osmond found success in musical theater through much of the 1990s when he starred in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for over 2,000 performances. During his performances for the musical, he suffered from social anxiety disorder, which caused him to feel light-headed and extremely nervous during his performances. In 1997, Osmond left his starring role in the tour to participate with his family in the cast of the Hill Cumorah Pageant.
He returned to Broadway on September 19, 2006, in the role of Gaston in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. He was scheduled to perform for nine weeks, but due to popular demand he extended his run through December 24. Liz Smith of the New York Post wrote, "I am here to tell you he is charmingly campy, good-looking and grand as the villain 'Gaston', patterned after our old friend Elvis", and noting "Donny is divine". On July 29, 2007, Osmond played Gaston again for the final performance of Beauty and the Beast.
Donny and his sister Marie starred in a holiday production called Donny & Marie – A Broadway Christmas, which was originally scheduled to play on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre from December 9–19, 2010. The show was then extended till December 30, 2010 and again till January 2, 2011. Donny & Marie – Christmas in Chicago played the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre in Chicago from December 6–24, 2011. It was similar to the 2010 Broadway show.
In the animated television series Johnny Bravo, Osmond voiced himself as a recurring character. He has also done guest spots on numerous other television shows such as Friends, Diagnosis: Murder, and Hannah Montana. He also appeared in a Pepsi Twist commercial during the Super Bowl with his sister, Marie, and Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. In 1982, he co-starred with Priscilla Barnes and Joan Collins in the television movie The Wild Women of Chastity Gulch for Aaron Spelling.
In 1998, Donny Osmond was chosen to be the singing voice of Shang in Walt Disney's Mulan. He sang "I'll Make a Man Out of You".
Also in 1999, he starred in the movie version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by Andrew Lloyd Webber's request who said, "to me there is no better selection". In addition to playing the role of Joseph.
In 2002 he sang 'No One Has To Be Alone' for the end credits of The Land Before Time IX: Journey to Big Water.
Osmond remarked in an interview recently that with his movie appearance on College Road Trip and upcoming appearances on two Disney Channel shows that he would coming about full circle since he and his family were discovered by Walt Disney.
Osmond appears in the music video of "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "White & Nerdy". The song is a parody of Chamillionaire's "Ridin'"; Osmond's role is analogous to that of Krayzie Bone's role in the original video. Yankovic asked Osmond to appear because "if you have to have a white and nerdy icon in your video, like who else do you go for?"
Dancing with the Stars
Osmond and professional Kym Johnson were paired for the ninth season of Dancing with the Stars; he participated in the show to prove he was a better dancer than his sister. It was very difficult for him to manage to get to rehearsals and host his show in Las Vegas with sister Marie. For the first week, the two were assigned to dance a Foxtrot and a 30-second Salsa. His Foxtrot was said to be "too theatrical" and was scored 20/30 from the judges. He however managed to maintain a good score when his Salsa scored 10 points and was safe that week. He danced a Jive the following week which was guest judged by Baz Luhrman. He scored 25 and was scored 2nd place, called first to be safe. That following week he danced a Rumba and scored 21.
After his comments, he "attacked" openly homosexual judge Bruno Tonioli, first kissing him, before embracing him and tipping him back in a mock-passionate move after Bruno called Donny's dance "a bit airy fairy". The following week introduced 4 new dances including the Charleston which he danced and scored 24. That following week, the two danced an Argentine Tango which scored 29/30, the highest scored dance to date until it was beaten by then leader topping scorer and future runner-up Mýa and her 70s-themed Samba. He had also received that week's encore.
Following that week, Osmond and Johnson danced a train-station themed Jitterbug and was scored a 24. He then danced a Mambo against all couples and was eliminated 6th receiving 7 points for a total of 31/40. The following week, he danced a Quickstep which he quotes "was one of the worst moments of my life" and scored 24 and a Team Tango along with Joanna Krupa and Kelly Osbourne and received 28/30 and the encore.
In the 8th week of competition, Osmond was required to dance a Ballroom and decade-themed Latin dance. His Ballroom Viennese Waltz received 26 but his 1980s themed Paso Doble received 24 being quoted by judge Len Goodman as "the most scariest, bizarre Paso Doble we've ever seen" being awarded last place on the judges' leaderboard for the first time. Following that week, he danced a Tango and got advice from past runner-up Gilles Marini. He got tangled in Johnson's dress and received 21 and saying the cause was that "I saw Marie". He then danced a samba to a song originally recorded by his brothers and himself called "One Bad Apple", receiving 26 and a Jitterbug scored 27. He once again was scored last place.
For the finals week, he danced a Cha-Cha-Cha (27), a Megamix dance alongside Mya and Kelly Osbourne (28), the only perfect-scoring Freestyle (30) and a repeat of his Argentine Tango (30) and won the competition. As he accepted his trophy, he hugged fellow finalist Mya and grabbed his wife, Debbie, and his sister, Marie, on stage.
In his youth, Donny held a ham radio license, KA7EVD.
Osmond appeared in the North American version commercial for the PlayStation 2 video game Buzz! the Mega Quiz.
Donny and Marie began a six-month run as the new headlining act at the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas, on September 9, 2008. On October 27, 2008, the Flamingo announced that Donny and Marie's contract had been extended until October 2010. Then on July 30, 2009, Donny & Marie made an announcement on NBC's Today Show that they had again extended their contract to go until October 2012.
On December 15, 2009, he appeared on The Paul O'Grady Show, along with his sister, Marie, being interviewed by the Channel 4 resident dinner lady, Susan.
Osmond states that he has had a tremendous public image struggle since Donny & Marie ended in 1979. He has been described as 'unhip', as a 'boy scout', and has been the butt of innumerable jokes, including appearing in the video "White & Nerdy" at the request of his friend, Yankovic, since he was 'the whitest guy [he] could think of'. His image has seemed such a liability that one professional publicist even suggested that Osmond purposefully get arrested for drug possession in order to change his image. In March 2010, Osmond criticized Lady Gaga and Beyoncé for using profanity and sex in their Telephone video.
Osmond married Debra Glenn (born in Billings, Montana on February 26, 1959) on May 8, 1978, in the Salt Lake Temple at age 20. Together they have five sons: Donald Clark Osmond, Jr. (b. 1979), Jeremy James Osmond (b. 1981), Brandon Michael Osmond (b. 1985), Christopher Glenn Osmond (b. 1990), and Joshua Davis Osmond (b. 1998).
Osmond became a grandfather on August 21, 2005, when his second son Jeremy and daughter-in-law Melisa (married 2002) had a son, Dylan James Osmond. His granddaughter Emery Anne was born on February 25, 2008. Osmond's third son Brandon married Shelby Hansen in 2008. Their son, Daxton Michael was born on June 28, 2010. Brandon and Shelby's second son, Tayte Darton Osmond was born on August 1, 2012. Donny's eldest son, Donald Jr. married Jessica Nelson on October 1, 2010, in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple and the couple had their first child, a son, Truman Clark Osmond on January 9, 2013.
Like the rest of his family, he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In retrospect, he has written, "It would have been nice to be able to have served a regular full-time mission, but when I was of that age, my career was such that everyone, including my parents and the leaders of the church, thought that I could do a lot of good in the world by continuing being in the public eye, by living an exemplary life and sharing my beliefs in every way that I could". He continues sharing his beliefs in an extensive letters-and-comments portion of his website.
In the aftermath of Proposition 8 in California, which received large Mormon support, Osmond stated that he opposes same-sex marriage but that he does not condemn homosexuality. He believes that homosexual and lesbian Mormons should be accepted in the church if they remain celibate.
He stated on his website:
We all determine for ourselves what is right and what is not right for our own lives and how we live God's commandments. I am not a judge and I will never judge anyone for the decisions they make unless they are causing harm to another individual. I love my friends, including my homosexual friends. We are all God's children. It is their choice, not mine on how they conduct their lives and choose to live the commandments according to the dictates of their own conscience.
Osmond's two oldest brothers are deaf and his nephew is hard of hearing. He has talked about the experience of growing up with his brothers and their use of sign language when performing together:
"My oldest brother was born 85 percent deaf and the next was born worse with almost total deafness. My parents were told by everyone, doctors included, to stop having kids. Thank God, they at least went as far as seven! Anyhow, they decided they were not going to treat my brothers differently [or lower their expectations.] My brothers talk and communicate verbally. They also sign and do have that down quite well. As a matter of fact, we used sign language when we were performing together as a group. There's this one number we did on the Donny and Marie Show, it was amazing—even when we were taping it. It was a huge production number and my brothers learned the routine. Obviously they couldn't really hear the music, but they could feel the beat and they'd watch us out of the corner of their eyes to make sure they were still in tempo."