Marie Osmond: 'Showbiz isn't for eternity. Marriage is'

By Susan Easton Black and Mary Jane Woodger

Published: Wednesday, May 11 2011 3:00 a.m. MDT

 Editor's note: This is an excerpt from "Women of Character: Profiles of 100 Prominent LDS Women," edited by Susan Easton Black and Mary Jane Woodger.

Singer Marie Osmond’s faith does not come from her parents, she insists. “I am a member of my Mormon faith because I want to be.” Her faith in God and his restored church is her anchor amid the storms that threaten her sense of peace. In 2010, after attending the funeral of a son who committed suicide, Osmond said, “Little did I know I would be relying on my faith, especially as much as I did this past week.”

With faith in the eternal nature of life and a promise of a “forever family,” Osmond, like so many times before, returned to the stage at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, where she was performing with her brother Donny. She told a standing-room-only crowd, “The way Osmonds survive is we keep singing, and that’s what we want to do tonight.”

The daughter of George and Olive Osmond, she was born Oct. 13, 1959, in Ogden, Utah, and she and her eight brothers were raised on Mormonism and show business. It was in show business that Osmond became a legend. At age 3, she debuted as part of her brothers’ act on "The Andy Williams Show." With Marie seated on Williams’ lap, Williams introduced her as “the youngest Osmond Brother.”

Marie Osmond did her first show when she was 4, and she worked overseas at 6 and 7. Yet she laments that success cheated her “of a normal, happy childhood.” For her, there was always one more performance.

“I had to sacrifice a lot. I grew up in a suitcase — I never did the things normal girls do.” Her parents told her that “show business wouldn’t be easy.” She adds, “They were right.”

“I didn’t like show business at first,” Osmond confesses. “I decided I wanted to be a secretary. I took shorthand and typing.” But as her life unfolded, she realized, “I love crowds. It’s nice to be in front of a television camera or to be in a studio and record.”

Osmond made a name for herself at age 13 by recording “Paper Roses.” The recording reached number one on the country hit charts. She was named the Best Female Country Vocal Performer and Best New Artist. She then booked her first concert performance at Madison Square Garden to a sold-out crowd. The title song of her next album, "Who’s Sorry Now," climbed to number 20 a month after its release. “You know, in the recording business, it was all men; television was all men,” Osmond said of the 1970s. But she knew then and now, “I’m one of the exceptions to the rule.”

At age 14, Marie and Donny Osmond hosted the ABC television variety show "Donny & Marie." “I’m a little bit country,” Marie announced at the beginning of each show. Donny answered, “I’m a little bit rock and roll.” Together, the “toothy duo” performed comedy sketches and musical moments. By the time the show was canceled in 1979, Donny and Marie had endeared themselves to an international audience. They were celebrities and confronted with all the problems associated with fame.

Through it all, the duo maintained their Mormon standards. Marie Osmond turned down the lead role as Sandy in "Grease" due to the script’s lack of moral content. She carefully selected which roles to take in television movies and serials, like "Ripley’s Believe It or Not," and which children cartoon voice-overs met her criteria. In 1985, Osmond's and Dan Seals’s duet “Meet Me in Montana” was named the number one country hit of the year. In 1986, Osmond and Paul Davis sang “You’re Still New to Me,” which also reached number one in the country hits. Since then, Osmond has been in great demand for television performances, Broadway musicals, films, concert tours and authoring.

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