Here’s Donny! Utah Valley’s most famous face sings through the verses of his 58 years

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Donny Osmond is writing a new “verse” with Donny Osmond Home, a line of furniture he is designing with his wife, Debbie. Osmond Designs is carrying the right-priced, durable, trendy line of furnishings. Donny and Debbie have remodeled their Provo and Las Vegas homes — as well as Donny’s dressing room at The Flamingo — with their self-named interior design options. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Donny Osmond is writing a new “verse” with Donny Osmond Home, a line of furniture he is designing with his wife, Debbie. Osmond Designs is carrying the right-priced, durable, trendy line of furnishings. Donny and Debbie have remodeled their Provo and Las Vegas homes — as well as Donny’s dressing room at The Flamingo — with their self-named interior design options. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

As I walked toward Donny Osmond for our scheduled interview in the showroom of his new home furnishing line, I heard him say to his assistant, “Tell Jeanette I’m going to have to cancel.” Before my heart could sink, he started laughing. He was not only ready for me, he was excited to talk about his life as a grandpa, home teacher, “Dancing with the Stars” champion, jokester and geeked-out Tesla owner.

As I showed this smiling 58-year-old the 2001 Utah Valley Magazine cover of himself, he says, “I’m so much happier than that guy was. I’m having the time of my life right now.”

With 61 albums on the tip of his vocal chords, Donny’s native language is performing and bringing out emotions in others. And he does it without the anxiety that once plagued him during his six-year run of “Joseph.” The 2016 Donny arrives at The Flamingo in Las Vegas just 30 minutes before his five shows each week, and with his own plane and pilot, he comes directly home to Provo a few nights a week after his high-energy sell-outs.

He’s at home in Utah where he hums happiness as he takes out the garbage and mows the lawn.

“It’s yin and yang, baby,” Donny says.

THE DONNY OSMOND CRESCENDO Donny is a self-identified “reinventor” as he continually sings new versions of himself. Here are the chapters he sees in his 58-year-old rearview mirror. Chapter 1 Andy Williams Chapter 2 “Puppy Love,” along with “One Bad Apple” with brothers Chapter 3 Donny & Marie show Chapter 4 “Soldier of Love” and breaking out of the teen idol scene Chapter 5 Playing “Joseph” in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Chapter 6 Gameshow host Chapter 7 Broadway Chapter 8 Las Vegas show with Marie (in its 8th year!) Chapter 9 Donny Osmond Home furniture line Chapter 10 Coming soon! Possibly more Broadway roles

THE DONNY OSMOND CRESCENDO
Donny is a self-identified “reinventor” as he continually sings new versions of himself. Here are the chapters he sees in his 58-year-old rearview mirror.
Chapter 1: Andy Williams
Chapter 2: “Puppy Love,” along with “One Bad Apple” with brothers
Chapter 3: Donny & Marie show
Chapter 4: “Soldier of Love” and breaking out of the teen idol scene
Chapter 5: Playing “Joseph” in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”
Chapter 6: Gameshow host
Chapter 7: Broadway
Chapter 8: Las Vegas show with Marie (in its 8th year!)
Chapter 9: Donny Osmond Home furniture line
Chapter 10: Coming soon! Possibly more Broadway roles

My 50s have been the best time of my life. I don’t feel the need to try hard to impress people or do projects I’m not passionate about. I know who I am. At this point, I am motivated by enjoyment.

About four years ago, I partnered again with Jim Morey, who managed Michael Jackson for a long time and managed me when I was 9. Back during the “Puppy Love” era, he told me I would find a day in the future when I would work where I want to work and live where I want to live. That’s my life in 2016! I live 12 minutes from the Provo airport. In Las Vegas, it’s nine minutes from my front door to The Flamingo where I perform five nights a week.

I’ve always maintained Utah as my home while in show business. I love it. I hiked the Y by myself before winter set in last year, and everybody was so friendly. Provo has changed from a college town to a thriving metropolis. We have a small-town mentality with city amenities. I even get stopped for speeding. I was driving down University and got pulled over. The officer said, “You are Donny Osmond! You just won ‘Dancing with the Stars!’ Congratulations.” And he just told me to be careful and let me go. But the other day I got a ticket on State Street in my Tesla for going 11 over the speed limit. The officer told me his parents were in my stake, but he still gave me a ticket.

I’m always moving quickly. We’re in our eighth year of the Vegas show. At first, MGM signed us to do 10 shows. Then we found this theater at The Flamingo, and we were going to do it for six more weeks. And now I’m thinking maybe we might make it to 10 years. I like to look down the road into the future, but “the future” has gotten a lot shorter. Back in the 1970s, I had a five-year plan and a 10-year plan. But now I’ve got to be ready to change on a dime.

“Joseph” was where I really found myself. I did Joseph for six years, and during the middle part I faced severe anxiety. It was difficult trying to shed my teeny bopper reputation. Justin Bieber is going through that right now. Teenagers go through that anyway as they reach adulthood, and I was doing it publicly. In fact, I wrote a song called “Faces in the Mirror” on one of my favorite albums. It’s about the different phases in my life. “Who am I looking at now?” I’ve worked my way through mental and physical challenges.

I’m starting on my 61st album. I’ve got to do at least 65 albums so I can beat Elvis! I’m competitive like that. My current album is my favorite of all because the songs all have a back story. It’s the soundtrack of my life. I started with 300 potential songs on the list and narrowed it from there.

I wrote a song called “Whenever You’re in Trouble.” The song came about because my son Brandon, who now works at Bonneville Communications, was on a mission in Scotland. It was 2004 and I was in England recording an album. I was in the booth when my Blackberry beeped. At first I was thinking, “Crap! That ruined the take!” It was a message from Brandon saying, “Are you out there? I need your help.” I immediately texted him back, and after a few messages back and forth, he said, “I’m OK. I just needed to know you were there anytime I needed you.” I stopped our recording session and said, “Guys, we need to write this song. Now.”

UTAH SWEET UTAH

Favorite store Sprouts. “I’m cognizant of what I eat, and I love that place.”

Favorite healthy restaurant

Aubergine. “Add in the cashews!”

Favorite grocery store Harmons on 800 North. “We go there all the time.”

Second home: Costco. “I get one of everything!”

Best place for a splurge In-n-Out. “Sometimes a burger tastes really good — and I ask for ‘animal style.’”

Favorite LDS hymn “O God, the Eternal Father.” I love the sound of the F sharp and D rubbing together.”

My dad taught me how to be a dad. He tells a story about when I was 10 years old and my brothers and I were opening for Nancy Sinatra at Caesars in Las Vegas. Frank Sinatra and his cronies were there watching rehearsal. The room was full of profanity, and my dad walked over to Frank and ripped him a new one. The cronies started to go after my dad, but Frank let him speak his peace about needing to clean up the language around us. The next night my dad was backstage setting props for the show when a guy came up and handed him an envelope from Frank. It was a hand-written letter from Frank apologizing for everyone’s behavior and there was $1,000 cash. The crime of it all is that my dad put the $1,000 in his pocket and threw the letter away! That paper would be worth a lot if we had it still today.

Life has been full of surprises. It was 1972 and I got a knock on my door in Paris. It was Paul McCartney and his daughter Mary. With his accent, he asked for my autograph and handed me a picture of myself, which I signed “To Mary, Love, Donny Osmond.” She squealed, they thanked me and the door closed. Fifteen years later, I was in London editing a music video and Paul was in the adjacent studio. I had always wondered if I had dreamed up that story. So I had to verify and I asked him if it happened. Paul said that not only did it happen, but that was one of the very few autographs he had asked for in his life.

Show business has given me amazing friends. I grew up parallel with Michael Jackson. The last time I talked to him, he called from Phoenix. The phone rang and I knew immediately it was him. I asked where he was, and at first he said he couldn’t tell me. This is when everything was hitting the fan. We are like brothers from a different mother. I told him he was just a nine-hour drive from Provo. I said, “Dude, get in the car, bring your kids here. They can sleep in the backyard and nobody will know you are here.” I knew he needed the normalcy and solitude of Provo for a minute. There is nothing normal about show business. He didn’t take me up on the offer and I’ve always been sad about that.

My own life has also had challenges. I take my boys on a trip when they graduate. Brandon wanted to go to Hawaii, and we were on the north shore of Oahu and there were signs everywhere saying “No body surfing.” So what do we do? We body surf! My head hit the shoreline and I heard a crack, and my right arm went limp. I didn’t want to ruin the day for Brandon, so I jumped back in and swam with one arm. Because of that moment, I ended up having my neck fused and a metal plate inserted. So now I can sing heavy metal music! Dr. Howard Reichman in Provo is the world’s best, and he told me there was a chance my vocal chords would be affected. Luckily, I came out OK.

Soon after “Dancing with the Stars,” I pulled a tendon right off the bone during a show in Las Vegas with Marie. I finished the show without that muscle. I can laugh about it now, but all I can say is that I believe in the power of prayer.

Donny and Marie have crooned, cackled and danced alongside each other their whole lives. The two siblings are in their eighth year of performing together five nights a week at The Flamingo in Las Vegas. They have a template for their show each night, but 50 percent of the show is ad lib, including spontaneous audience interaction and playful sibling rivalry — especially when joking about “Dancing With the Stars,” which Donny won. (Photo courtesy Caesars Entertainment)

Donny and Marie have crooned, cackled and danced alongside each other their whole lives. The two siblings are in their eighth year of performing together five nights a week at The Flamingo in Las Vegas. They have a template for their show each night, but 50 percent of the show is ad lib, including spontaneous audience interaction and playful sibling rivalry — especially when joking about “Dancing With the Stars,” which Donny won. (Photo courtesy Caesars Entertainment)

Marie and I don’t hang out together outside the show very much, so when we’re on stage it’s spontaneous and fun. We have a template for the show, but we have so much elbow room. After the show we’re greeting different people and going home. She lives in Las Vegas and Provo is my home base. She has a plane — and I have a jet. She’s got her dolls, I’ve got my furniture. There’s no competition at all!

Religion is a personal thing, but I also love to share my beliefs. Back in the 1970s, I got a lot of mail from people and they would ask obscure things about Mormonism. Now I have a section on my website about my beliefs. I don’t shove it down people’s throats, but if people have questions we answer them using quotes and scriptures. I back things up.

Right now I’m a home teacher. I’ve spent a lot of years in the priest quorum. And I miss teaching gospel doctrine, which was my calling in Chicago when I was doing “Joseph.” That’s when I learned to appreciate Isaiah. I studied great books so I could teach effectively. For one lesson, I had visual aids and I was going through the prophets. I said, “We’ve got Abraham, Isaiah, Jacob … and … ME!” (laughing). Whenever Joseph is memtioned in a church setting, the teacher often pulls me into it. “Donny, what was it like back in that time?” But I love it. It’s a powerful story. It wasn’t really a coat of many colors. It was the coat of authority.

I’ve learned a lot from my parents and Debbie’s parents. At first, I wasn’t sure if Debbie’s parents could handle me. They are somewhat serious people. One time I called up her mom and said I was coming at 6 in the morning to surprise Debbie. I wanted to see her without her makeup, and she was cuter without it! She “cried sexy” without makeup. I pulled Debbie out of her room and chased her around the house with a cream pie. I pinned her to the floor and put the pie in her face and all over the carpet, and then I left. I got away with it and realized she had cool parents.

I  like to have fun. Imagine what I could have done with Twitter back in the 1970s — the “Puppy Love” days. Ha! Of course, I’m on Twitter now, and Facebook and Instagram. Recently it was the 40th anniversary of the “Donny & Marie” show. For “throwback Thursday,” I released some of my favorite moments of that show.

One of my favorite Utah performances was the Stadium of Fire in 1996. I came in on a helicopter and landed on the field of LaVell Edwards Stadium. During rehearsal earlier that day, we went up in the air and tested things. When we landed, I got out of the helicopter and was looking down as I walked. A voice in my head told me to stop and look up. I was walking right into the rotor. I couldn’t hear but I could see people screaming and trying to get my attention. I can still see that scene in my head to this day.

I plan to perform until my mid-80s and live to 106. I think my next chapter is going back to Broadway. I’m looking at a few things right now — some original pieces and a couple shows I’d like to revive.

I’ve followed my head and heart at different times in my career. The furniture line is both. Plus, I’m working with Debbie. So let’s get down to business! (Mulan reference). Life is good. Life’s never been better.

Read Donny Osmond’s version of his first kiss with his wife Debbie here. Then read more on Debbie Osmond here.

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25 Comments

  1. Cindy Price Reply

    How can I buy a copy of just this magazine with Donny & Debbie Osmond???????? GREAT INTERVIEW!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do some more on Donny & Debbie!!!!

  2. brenda collett Reply

    I want to come see Donny AND MARIE but my husband is sick and my daughters would have to come with me because I have seizures real bad have tried to get them to let me go by myself but the won’t let me go and we are on fixed in come so I don’t have the means to go because we have 4 Grandkids that we have raised and we still have 2 at home but we still help the other 2 when they need it would give anything to see them my Dream.

    1. Faith Reply

      I think it’s different than he made it sound. As adults, they are both busy with their own large families and there probably isn’t much time to socialize…

  3. Shirley Johnson Reply

    Yesterday, I celebrated the 39th anniversary of my baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Last year, I was able to meet Donny in Las Vegas after his performance with Marie. I told him I had waited 38 years to meet him and to thank him for my introduction to the Church. Donny was eager to hear my conversion story; I will never forget his kindness toward me.

    Growing up in southern West Virginia, I knew no Mormons until my college years at Marshall University, where I was introduced to a gal who had a copy of the Church News laying on her desk with a cover story about the Osmonds. I told her I loved the Osmonds and a friendship began that resulted in my conversion.

    My husband and I have four children who have graduated from BYU and SVU. They were all married in the Temple and I have nine grandchildren under the age of six. Gee, I even live in Utah now… What a happy life it has been for me and I could not feel more grateful! Donny has been a wonderful missionary in addition to all of his amazing talents. ;0)

    1. Gwen Davies Reply

      That is what happened with me as well. He is my missionary. His example, his mother’s writings in their magazine etc. brought me to the church. I remember asking my mom what Mormons were and she told me they were very bad and to stay away from them. I went to my room and looked at my posters of Donny and thought, ‘There is no way the Donny can be bad’ I started doing my own research. There was something about them while watching TV that I needed to learn more about.The rest is history and I to just celebrated my 36th year. Thank you for sharing.

      1. Gina Reply

        Add me to the list of Latter-day Saints who found the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, thanks to being a fan of the Osmonds’ back in the 1970’s. I’ve since graduated from BYU, served a mission in Rome, Italy and currently work for the Church back in my native Chicago. Thanks to all of the Osmond family for being lights to so many for so many years.

  4. Tina Reply

    I am disappointed that BOTH DOnny and Marie are not socailizing not well on and or off stage at all!. Though their show and performance is OUTSTANDING. But I see bitterness between them both. Even though it is an “act”..I am sorry but I find and see this very troubleing and as well disturbing!.

    1. Gwen Davies Reply

      I don’t remember Donny saying that their was any bitterness between them. They both have their own families to think about. I am sure they get together at family gatherings. And we know that they love each other. They can’t be together like they were in their teenage years. No troubling to me I totally understand they each have their own responsibilities to their own families right now,

      1. Tina Reply

        @Gwen Davies:….I didn’t say that..READ IT AGAIN. It SAYS…I am DISAPPOINTED. It does not say that if Donny remembers saying that or not. It is WHAT I SEE…you do not see the point that I have made. Wether if they are with their families or not, I am MORE THEN sure that they are. But, again it is WHAT I SEE. I am staying with my voice of opinion. You have your own opinion..I have mine. If you do not like it, I am sorry. Thankyou very much. You have a nice day.

    2. Carol Billam Reply

      Nobody said there is any bitterness between Donny and Marie! They are performing together most of the week so that does not leave much time for socialising plus they are both wanting to spend the precious free time they have with their spouses kids and grandkids. They perform so well together and obviously have great love for each other – obviously there is teasing and sibling rivalry this is normal!

    3. Kary Reply

      Oh please! There was no mention of “bitterness” or any animosity whatsoever! Why do people have to invent drama? I dearly love my brothers, and we have a great time when we’re together, but we don’t hang out together! That is how most adults behave. We are not children anymore, we have responsibilities and even (like Donnie & Marie) live in different states. We even (gasp!) have friends that we like to spend time with who are not family members. Stop trying to make a Big Problem (that you can then gossip about?!!) out of nothing.

  5. Anita cook Reply

    Enjoyed reading this. Love the pictures I have the same cardboard Donny at home and have to say as much as I love him it makes me jump every time I walk into the room! My friends and family think it is highly funny. I saw the Vegas show this year my first time seeing Donny live, I was so nervous and in away scared as often we can build such an image in our minds that is not always real. I am so glad to say this did not happen in any way!

  6. Betty ellebruch Reply

    Dear Donny, I have been a fan of the osmond brothers since I was about 12 years old and I will soon be 58..My birthday is in December also..I especially love you and Merrill..you are both very talented and handsome..I lost my mom in 2011 from Alzheimer’s and she also loved your music..we never missed donny and Marie…My dream is to one day meet you in person..I live in jeffersonville Indiana

  7. Rene Gardner Revene Reply

    What a great interview! I enjoyed all of it, but especially the story about chasing Debbie with a pie, and finding out how cool her parents were…thanks Donny, and Debbie! Love you both, Rene’

  8. Joe Leeflang Reply

    Donny was in a friends ward and was the priest quorum adviser there. I was told about the effort he made to be there on Sunday’s no mater where he was working. More than anything he ever did , that alone won my respect.

  9. Stacy Reply

    Donny,
    It must be strange to have so many of us who grew up with you out here in Fan Land, because we feel like we know you – at least the public you – and you can’t possibly know us. (I am an author so I feel a little of that myself at times.) you and I are just months apart in age (I am a few months older ☺️)

    I just wanted to say how much I love your drive, your faith, your spark of mischief, your work ethic, and your devotion to your wife and family. And to me the icing on the cake is your incredible showmanship, your creative brilliance. I love this article. Thanks for the candid glimpse into you.

    Best,
    Stacy Allen
    Atlanta GA

  10. Mary Smith Reply

    This is REALLY have been distrubing me for such a long time now….and…..well, this is what Donny Osmond had said: “Take a look at the picture we recreated 40 years to the day. It was fireworks then, and it’s even better now”. Well………….? so, if it is(OR) if this is true in anyway way…where IS Debbie? Where WAS Debbie??. I have seen ALOT of pics of with JUST with Donny alone. AND he looks very tired as well sad. SO…why wasn’t Debbie right by “HER HUSBANDS Side at this function/celebration”? It is to be a Partner sided by side business…Donny AND PLUS DEBBIE??? isn’t it?. So, again why hasn’t she gone ot been to MOST of these “Donny Osmond Home Furningshings Functions? Yes, I do agree with Elma…POSTS MORE PICS OF DEBBIE!……Ple~~~~~~~~ase!

  11. Charles Eisenhuth Reply

    I can’t imagine the burden of responsibility of being in the limelight to share the restored gospel to everything that a youngster in upstate PA and NY were spreading abroad.

  12. Robert Dodd Reply

    As a child my mother was a waitress at Casa Del Sol in Salt Lake City. She came home one day and handed me a piece of paper with Donny and Marie’s Autograph on it and told me all about how she served them that day. I was so excited and thought my mother was just the coolest thing in the world. I bragged about that forever. Even to this day I mention how she served them when they were still teenagers. Anyway my pet Gerbil got hold of that paper and chewed it up. I cried and cried for hours over it and kept telling my mother to get them to come back and eat. She felt so bad and said if they ever came back she would. I think I asked her constantly for months before I eventually gave up on it. It is funny to think back on it.

    Mom knew how much I loved them, especially Marie. I had such a childhood crush on her and mom would giggle when I would told her how pretty Marie is and how I wished they could be my brother and sister so I could sing with them. My favorite song by Marie was “Paper Roses” and Donny’s was “Go Away Little Girl”

    When the Donny and Marie show was on the air I never missed an episode and used to love when Marie would always get the best of Donny. They made me laugh and I guess they made me cry and although I never did get their autograph again, I am so grateful today for the Lord’s gospel to know that they really are my brother and sister. Their testimonies of the gospel has even helped this converts testimony grow.

    Oh and yes I do sing with them today, whenever I hear or play any of my favorite songs by them.

  13. George H Zinn Reply

    Did Donny really smash a cream pie in Debbie’s face one time when they were dating? And she married him anyway?

  14. Bob Jacobson Reply

    I have always been a fan of the Osmonds. I served my mission to Sweden from 1972-1974. Every so often we would get a referral to visit a young lady who was interested in the church because of Donny Osmond. My wife, niece and I attended a concert of his in Boise and were thoroughly impressed. Keep up the good work.

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