In the world of show business, you can never assume performers are being their true selves. Entertainers can transform into a totally different person when they step onstage or in front of the camera, hiding their normal habits and personalities.
This reality only becomes more complicated when it involves entire families. If you saw these superstar siblings on TV, you would figure they didn’t have a care in the world. But that was far from the case, according to their little brother, as he revealed each day together was a struggle the world never saw.
For many, the advent of the 1970s was just the turning of another year. But not for the Osmonds. The new decade meant pop stardom for brothers Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, and Donny. As a matter of fact, that family still had some untapped potential.
Aside from Marie Osmond, who wouldn’t become a star until later, there was the matter of Jimmy. By far the youngest of the family, his earliest memories revolved around touring and recording. As he came of age, he showed quite a bit of talent himself.
Instagram / Jimmy Osmond
This piqued the interest of his parents, George and Olive. Though he wasn’t even ten years old, Jimmy knew how to both entertain and act professionally. That made sense, as the showbiz life was the only one he’d ever known.
Jimmy’s parents encouraged him to perform more and more, with a few guest appearances alongside his older siblings. But rather than crowd the group, George and Olive had a curious thought. How would Jimmy do as a solo artist?
Instagram / Jimmy Osmond
Interestingly, Jimmy’s songs were designed to target foreign markets. At five years old, he sang “My Little Darling” in Japanese to snag his first gold record. Though impressive, his real triumph would take place in a different continent.
He took a big gamble with the suggestively-titled “Long Haired Lover from Liverpool.” Fortunately, the Brits ate it up, skyrocketing the song all the way to #1. Nine-year-old Jimmy became the youngest-ever artist to top the UK charts.
Suddenly, the once-unknown Osmond was a star. He toured all over the world and got to meet his idol, Elvis Presley. While Jimmy was living the rockstar lifestyle before he was old enough to sit in the front seat of the car, however, he felt something was missing.
Becoming a professional entertainer at such a young age, Jimmy later realized he never had a shot at a normal childhood. He recalled, “The home I grew up in was a string of hotel rooms across the world. I don’t remember my first home.”
Instagram / Jimmy Osmond
But at his career peak, there was no time for introspection. The rush of touring and recording, both solo and with his siblings, took up all Jimmy’s energy. As he entered his teens, he wondered if he could branch out his talents and find his own identity.
Instagram / Jimmy Osmond
Looking to try his hand at acting, Jimmy landed the lead role in the 1978 kids’ movie The Great Brain, for which he also performed original music. It wasn’t the smash hit he hoped for, but that didn’t mean the Osmonds weren’t completely without success.
While the older Osmonds were focused on the group dynamic, the younger ones emerged as strong individual performers. Jimmy certainly had the hottest start. But Donny and Marie — now a full-fledged singer — soon eclipsed him in fame.
The brother and sister launched a TV variety show called Donny & Marie, with their older brothers producing. Although the Osmand name was famous before, this program catapulted these two into the top tier of celebrities — but those two only.
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Even with his six gold records, Jimmy found himself on the outs. Donny and Marie grew distant just as he reached a career crossroads. He signed a contract as a kid that barely earned him peanuts, so he had to make his own way.
With his marketability faltering, Jimmy turned to the business side of entertainment. He quickly established himself as a producer, and the former child star made a bundle marketing Osmond merchandise, TV shows, and live events like Disney on Ice.
Still, Jimmy couldn’t give up performing. Entering middle age, he took on a more prominent role in The Osmonds, though he still could never match his brother Donny. But Jimmy did realize that fame and fortune weren’t the most important parts of life.
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The lifelong singer had more fans than he could handle, but he didn’t find true love until he met Michelle Larson. They married in 1992 and had four wonderful children. Even so, Jimmy often thought back to the glory days of his other family.
The Osmonds were once the most successful and tight-knit family in the business. Now, they were mostly scattered to the winds. Jimmy barely spoke with some siblings, by his own choice. But he came perilously close to never hearing their voices again.
In 2018, he joined a British production of Peter Pan as the villainous Captain Hook. The tour got off to a swashbuckling start — until Jimmy suffered a stroke in the middle of one show. The 55-year-old survived, though he vanished from the public eye.
The general public learned little else, but something extraordinary happened behind closed doors. The Osmond siblings all reconnected, sending their best wishes to their little brother. Could this be the rumblings of a full-on reunion tour?
Jimmy finally addressed his future the spring after the stroke. The singer thanked everyone for their support and stated that he would, in fact, take a much-deserved break from entertaining. After all, he had a family, dog, and a number of hobbies to look after.
Jimmy tried to avoid making a big deal about his health, as he knew other family members had their own struggles. His sister Marie seemed invincible when she signed a record deal with MGM and set herself apart with a unique country sound — but that didn’t last long.
Audiences quickly took to the newest Osmond, and her 1973 debut single “Paper Roses” skyrocketed to number one on the country charts. She then followed up with “In My Little Corner of the World,” which charted on the Billboard country Top 40 in 1974.
Yet while Marie’s popularity was growing steadily, the Osmonds had begun losing steam. Record sales had dipped considerably by the mid-70s, leading a number of the brothers to branch off into solo careers.
Donny seemed to benefit the most from the band’s split, establishing himself as a teen idol and producing a slew of pop hits. With both he and Marie taking the industry by storm, fans were eager to see if the star siblings would eventually join forces.
Audiences got their wish in 1974 when the duo released a pair of duets: “I’m Leaving It All Up To You” and “Morning Side of the Mountain.” Both songs reached Top 10 on the pop charts, making it clear the pairing of Donny and Marie was one people loved.
On the heels of this success, Donny and Marie took a shot at entertainment by hosting their own variety show. The gamble paid off, and after a midseason pickup by ABC, Donny & Marie became one of television’s most popular programs from 1976 to 1978.
Yet while life seemed perfect for Marie Osmond, things weren’t as they appeared on the surface. Despite her bright smile and bubbly personality, the teen star concealed a dark secret for most of her young life.
Though mentions of it have popped up here and there over the years, Marie herself only recently confirmed the rumors during a 2018 interview with Dr. Oz. According to the superstar, this seemingly idyllic period of her life was plagued by regular sexual abuse.
She refused to name names – her abusers are long dead – though she revealed she was victimized by “people with very temporary access to my life, people I didn’t know well.” The star also claimed that her abusers invaded her privacy and even stole from her.
When asked about why she stayed silent for so long, Marie explained that abuse in the industry wasn’t something people were comfortable with talking about at the time. But perhaps her biggest reason to keep quiet – at least in her mind – was to protect her family.
According to Marie, her abusers were very well connected in the industry, and she feared reporting the abuse would cost the rest of her family their careers. So she hid her secret from the world, unaware of the toll it’d soon take on her physical and mental health.
For years, Marie struggled publicly with her weight, with many believing that the stress of superstardom had finally gotten to her. But Marie offered a different explanation: her weight gain wasn’t because of stress — it was because of the abuse.
“For me, I think part of my weight issue was I didn’t want to be pretty,” she told Dr. Oz. “It was almost like a defense.” Subconsciously, Marie believed that the more she ate and the heavier she became, the less inclined her abusers would be to pursue her.
But her weight problem quickly became a bane to her professional life, as her appearance was regularly scrutinized due to her constant presence in front of the camera. And these weren’t just kind suggestions – producers were merciless when it came to their criticisms.
“I had producers take me out into the parking lot when I was 103 pounds and tell me that I was obese, disgusting, and a disgrace to my family,” Marie recalled. “[They told me] that I needed to keep food out of my fat face.”
Not only did these comments destroy Marie’s self-esteem, but they also made her fear for her family much in the same way her abusers had done. She felt that if she didn’t lose enough weight, Donny & Marie would fail and hundreds of people would lose their jobs.
Yet despite years of struggle, Marie would overcome her weight problem and is now a spokeswoman for the Nutrisystem weight-loss program. With her abusive past behind her as well, she’s now free to focus on her still-thriving career alongside her brother.
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Since 2008, Donny and Marie have been performing a live version of their popular variety show at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. The duo has earned a number of awards for their performances, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal‘s “Best Show” award in 2012.
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Unfortunately, the show likely won’t run much longer, as health issues have begun to take a toll on Donny. Still, whether performing in Vegas or not, Marie’s star seems destined to shine on for years to come.