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Growing up Osmond was unforgettable, but wasn't always easy

Posted at 9:27 AM, Sep 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 11:03:34-04

SALT LAKE CITY — On Tuesday, many FOX 13 viewers watched the new FOX drama, “Monarch”, starring Susan Sarandon and Trace Adkins. It’s about a fictional First Family of country music.

While “Monarch” is completely fabricated, FOX 13 News reached out to Utah’s real First Family of Entertainment, The Osmonds.

In the early 1960’s, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay began an eight-year run as regulars on the Andy Williams Show. Along the way, Donny and Marie were added to the act, with Williams humorously introducing the sweet little Marie as “the youngest Osmond brother”. And what started in Ogden, Utah as a way to afford hearing aids for their two older brothers, Tom and Virl, grew into an Osmond entertainment dynasty with worldwide reach.

From the barbershop harmonies on "The Andy Williams Show," the brothers branched into rock and roll, concertizing all over the world. Donny became a teen idol. Marie began a country music career.

In the 1970’s, Donny and Marie got their own musical variety show, with the biggest names in show business as guests. Jimmy Osmond became a star in his own right. At age five, he had a gold record in Japan, and qualified for a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest artist to ever have a #1 Single in the UK.

Watch the full interview with the Osmond family below

Full Osmond Family Interview

The family continued to grow through marriage, and continued to perform, act, concertize, and branch into various business ventures.

But performing is in the Osmond family DNA. And the Osmonds second generation has shown that.

The family got together recently at Rock Canyon Studios in Provo with some of the children of the Osmond brothers to talk about the Osmond entertainment dynasty, and what it meant to “grow up Osmond.”

Nathan (Alan), David (Alan), Eric (Jay), Chris (Donny), Brandon (Donny), and Sophia (Jimmy) Osmond shared insights into experiences their family has had after nearly 60 years in the entertainment industry.

“For us, we’re very fortunate to have that name. And to have an influence in this world for good. But year, we still have to be super creative,” said Donny’s son, Chris.

"It's pretty remarkable to look at our family. We were born into this hurricane, this three ring circus,” said Alan’s son, David.

“People ask us all the time,” said Alan’s second son, Nathan. 'What was it like growing up Osmond?' We didn't know anything different? And the thing is, how many networks were out there at the time? And to think that they [the Donny and Marie Show] had a 60 share on the networks. That's like Super Bowl ratings. And then our our relatives are in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most watched variety TV show. That's huge.”

Jay’s son, Eric commented, "I don't think I've ever heard a negative story about our family, guys. Like everybody has a story about the Osmonds as soon as they hear our name, I don't know if you always get, 'I’ve got an awesome story for you.' And they always just go right into it. You know, they'll tell you how they know an Osmond, or what they did. And, and it's always something positive or fun.”

"But we've had our ups and we've had our downs. And there's been hard times in this family,” Nathan added.

Indeed, there have been marriage break-ups, near financial ruin, Donny’s very public struggles with social anxiety disorder, Alan and son David’s multiple sclerosis, Wayne’s brain cancer, Marie’s bouts with postpartum depression; the things that many families deal with. Sophia’s father Jimmy suffered a stroke in December 2018.

FOX 13 News Anchor Bob Evans asked her, “What have these struggles taught your family?”

Sophia answered, “I think there is no one immune. You can have all the success in the world, and still have your struggles behind closed doors.”

"I mean, we're just normal people. We're a regular family. Yeah, we’ve had challenges. We’ve got bruises and bumps, but we love each other,” said David.

They’re just doing all of it in the entertainment industry.

"When you open and close a Broadway show on the same night. That's hard,” said Nathan, referring to his uncle Donny’s first attempt at Broadway. “How do you get through that?” he asked rhetorically. “And then to go up to Toronto and see that same uncle of mine get a standing ovation in the middle of the show with Andrew Lloyd Webber watching him, [I] about cried because I knew what he had been through.”

"If you're a marketing genius guru, no matter what product you're selling, you have to keep reinventing yourself,” added David. “To see how they went from a barbershop quartet as little boys in Ogden, Utah, to adding brothers and a sister to the mix, and then changing the sound and going from a pop band, a boyband, to the Broadway stuff, to country, to rock and roll, to the Peacock. Talk about variety.”

Although not as often anymore, the Osmonds second generation still love to perform, but they have other things going now.

Sophia is tech sales rep for a local company, and is engaged to be married.

David has a big band, tours with Marie, is the host of the television show "Wonderama," and is the CEO of a marketing firm.

Eric is working in both music and acting, currently with the role of Petronius in "The Chosen." He also has a sci-fi band, and writes music for film.

Nathan just recorded a country duet with Linda Davis, has several country hits, acts, has a podcast, and is in the mortgage business.

Brandon works with a design and creative agency in Provo, does a lot of work behind the camera in film and commercials, and recently started his own company, doing business with Boeing and for the U.S. Navy. For him, like many of his cousins, music is mostly a hobby, although he performed in Heber City recently

And Chris has a new single he’s released, and was just hired as the Chief Marketing Officer for a High Fitness, a Utah company.

Growing up with famous parents was complicated.

“There was one moment in my life where Donny Osmond and my dad crossed paths in my house. And it was really hard for me, because I had separated the two,” said Brandon.

Shortly after the death of family patriarch, George Osmond, Brandon and his father Donny were deep in conversation, when the phone rang.

“So he picks up the phone. And I hear this sweet high pitched voice. 'Hey, Donny, I just wanted to call and just tell you, I'm sorry about your dad.' And they have this conversation for maybe two or three minutes. He finishes it with 'Thanks, Michael. That means a lot to me.' And I realized that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, just called my dad, my dad didn't call him. Michael Jackson called my dad in my house right in front of me, and I heard his voice on the phone. And it was really weird for me because they clashed. Donny Osmond and my dad, were now the same person, and it really wrecked me. It really was a hard thing for me to see."

Brandon continued, “It just really just broke the barriers that I had set up. I set up barriers in that my home was home, and my dad's job was his job. And when I separated those two, I could go to his work and realize, okay, this is a different person. Or I could see him on TV, that was a different person. But when he was at home, he was wearing Grinch pajamas and floppy shirt. And that was my dad. And I loved that man. And I loved the Donny Osmond. But they were two separate people.”

It can be a strange dynamic, mixing fame with the mundane, as Brandon put it.

But in summation, David expressed what has been the guiding principles of everything the Osmonds have done.

"When it came to showbiz, our grandparents established this. They said, “If you're gonna do this industry, here are the rules, the hierarchy; God, then family, and then showbiz.” And if that's out of whack, we're done. And I think that's been maybe the secret to the success. The priorities were straight."