I have a friend (wink, wink) who always ends up at a party or talking to a girl and the topic of personal heroes comes up. He will utter the words "Donny Osmond," and one of two things are guaranteed to happen. One, laughter will ensue, or two, the party will end and the girl will walk away. He would like to say two things about this: "Why is this answer so funny?" and as his mom says, "Well if they don't like Donny Osmond, they're not your real friends." Come on people, the man is friggin' Donny Osmond! He was rockin' "Puppy Love" while I was tugging on my mom's sleeve to help me flush the toilet. And he's still here.

The seventh of nine children to devout Mormon parents George and Olive Osmond, Donny Clark Osmond was born December 9, 1957 in Ogden, Utah.

He was the newest member of a gifted musical family - four older brothers were a hit barbershop quartet. Already a well-known singing group throughout Utah, the Osmond boys performed at Disneyland in 1962. They were seen by Andy Williams' father, who asked his son to audition them for his new NBC musical variety show. The Osmonds made their first appearance on December 20, 1962. Donny made his first appearance with the group on December 10, 1963 at the ripe old age of 5, and the boys made many appearances on the show until its demise nearly ten years later.

Donny soon joined the Osmond act. But, he also went out on his own, recording his first solo album "The Donny Osmond Album" in 1971. The hits "Puppy Love" and "Go Away Little Girl" started the phenomenon that drove Donny to become one of the biggest teen idols of the 1970's. Through his teenage years, he earned 23 gold records, including 8 that went gold in just one year. Between 1971 and 1973, he earned an astonishing 18 gold records (platinum records did not yet exist).

From 1972-74, Donny and his brothers inspired and voiced the Saturday morning cartoon series "The Osmonds." Osmond continued his television career in 1975 when he co-hosted the Mike Douglas Show with his sister Marie. Fred Silverman, the president of ABC, saw them on the show and gave the pair a prime time special in November 1975. They garnered such high ratings that ABC gave them their own variety show debuting in 1976. They became the youngest hosts ever of a weekly TV variety show. The Donny and Marie Show lasted four seasons.

In 1975, Donny met Debra Glenn, a cheerleader from Provo, Utah. Although his management was concerned about how it would affect his teen idol image, they were married May 8, 1978 (true to his religious upbringing, Donny was still a virgin!).

Donny tried his hand in the theater in 1982. He performed in a George M. Cohan musical "Little Johnny Jones." To his dismay, the Broadway play closed the very night it opened. It was painfully bashed by critics, who found it hard to shake the image of Donny as teen idol.

Some time after, Osmond met Peter Gabriel at a UNICEF benefit. Gabriel, recognizing Osmond's inherent talent, allowed Donny to use his private recording studio in England to record an album. Peter convinced his record label Virgin to sign Donny. The album "Donny Osmond" was subsequently released in the UK in 1989, with the mildly successful hits "Soldier of Love," "If It's Love That You Want," and "Groove."

Immediately upon his return to the States, Virgin dropped Osmond from its label. At the point of quitting for good, WPLJ in New York City played "Soldier of Love" as a mystery artist. The calls came pouring in requesting the song and trying to figure out who the mystery singer was. Donny agreed to unveil the mystery by making an in-studio appearance. The album was picked up in the US by Capitol Records, and the song went to #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 Chart.

In 1990, a follow-up record was released. Entitled "Eyes Don't Lie," the album featured a funk and R&B style, along with a few ballads. It was not a hit.

Perhaps most recently known for his lead role as Joseph in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", Osmond took on the role in Toronto, Canada in summer 1992. He headlined the show for five years, until May 1997. The soundtrack recorded by the Canadian touring company is certified quadruple platinum, and although it is an import in the United States, it outsells other versions by a 3-1 margin there. Osmond rehashed the role in a brief seven-week Salt Lake City stint in preparation for the taped movie version shot in July 1999.

Donny recorded a Christmas album "Christmas at Home" in 1997 on his own Nightstar label. Osmond was also the singing voice of Shang, the army leader in Disney's 1998 feature animation hit Mulan. His kids finally acknowledged him as a successful entertainer after this appearance.

In 1998, Donny and Marie came back with a new talk show, lasting two seasons. A critical hit, but ratings failure, it was nominated for five Emmy awards in its second year, but Columbia Tri-Star canceled it due to lack of audience.

Donny released an autobiography in 1999 entitled "Life is Just What You Make it - My Story So Far," which had a brief stint on the New York Times Best Seller List. In it, he made the astonishing revelation that during "Joseph" and for some time before, he suffered from social phobia, the extreme fear of social and public situations. Sufferers fear being judged by others, being ridiculed, and doing or saying something to embarrass themselves. He was treated by Dr. Jerily Ross, the therapist who helped Barbra Streisand overcome her stage fright.

In 2001, Donny released a new album, "This is the Moment," a compilation of his favorite songs from Broadway musicals. Reaching top ten in the album charts, it is his fastest selling album yet.

Osmond currently lives with his wife and five sons in Utah. Donny has recently appeared hosting the 1999 and 2000 Miss America pageants, as a contestant on Fear Factor, and will be hosting the fall 2002 gameshow "The $100,000 Pyramid."

The man is a genius. Or so my friend says.


Donny Trivia

Donny is a master electrician. He wired an entire recording studio, and all the wiring in his Utah home was laid out by the man himself.

If Donny hadn't accepted the role of Joseph, he probably would be racing professionally. Prior to receiving the lead role, Osmond had already won two amateur races. In April 1991, he won the Toyota Celebrity Grand Prix in Long Beach, CA. Later that same year, he won the Denver Colorado Texaco/Havalon Grand Prix. Chevrolet went as far as asking Donny to go to Michigan to be tested for joining its professional racing team. He did so well there that they asked him to race full time on the professional circuit. When his invitation to play Joseph came in, Osmond had already assembled a pit crew.

Favorite author: John Grisham
Favorite movies: Young Frankenstein, Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman


Discography

1971 - The Osmonds - Osmonds
1971 - The Donny Osmond Album
1971 - To You With Love
1971 - The Osmonds - Phase-III
1971 - The Osmonds - Homemade
1972 - Portrait of Donny
1972 - The Osmonds - Crazy Horses
1972 - Too Young
1972 - The Osmonds - "Live"
1972 - My Best to You
1973 - A Time For Us
1973 - The Osmonds - The Plan
1973 - Superstar
1973 - Alone Together
1973 - Perfect
1974 - The Osmonds - Collector's Edition
1974 - The Osmonds - Love Me For a Reason
1974 - Japan
1974 - Mexico
1974 - Donny
1975 - Donny & Marie - Featuring Songs From Their Television Show
1975 - Donny & Marie - Make the World Go Away
1975 - The Osmonds - I'm Still Gonna Need You
1975 - The Osmonds - Around the World, Live in Concert
1975 - Just For You
1976 - Disco Train
1976 - The Osmond Christmas Album
1977 - Donald Clark Osmond
1977 - Donny & Marie - New Season
1977 - Donny & Marie - A Winning Combination
1977 - The Osmonds - Greatest Hits
1977 - Donny & Marie - I'm Leaving it All Up To You
1978 - Donny & Marie - Goin' Coconuts
1984 - The Osmonds - America Fest
1989 - Donny Osmond
1989 - UK
1990 - Eyes Don't Lie
1992 - Greatest Hits
1994 - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
1994 - Best of Donny Osmond
1995 - Twenty Five Hits
1996 - Excelsior
1997 - Christmas at Home
1997 - Four
1998 - Mulan
2001 - This is the Moment

Credit to http://www.donny.com, http://www.osmond.com, http://www.bookpage.com/9906bp/donny_osmond.html

I met Donny Osmond in October 2003 at "eBusiness for Everyone." Donny was the keynote speaker at the Marriott School's eBusiness Day. Osmond's address focused primarily on how he uses technology to record and edit his productions.

Osmond is quite petite. He is maybe 5'6" or 5'7" and very slim. Some interesting facts about Osmond that came out during his address:

He has done some recording in a bathroom with his laptop because "the acoustics were right."

When he lived in college dorms the management let him use his penchant for electronics to create a hide-a-bed that zipped up to his ceiling during the day to expose his study desk and zipped back down at night.

He is infamous for eating his words. He offended Rosie O'Donnell in 1998. Osmond appeared on her show and she offered to be his stunt double in a concert bit where he is lowered onstage by a helicopter. He answered "I don't know if the helicopter can take the load." Even when he patched things up by singing "Puppy Love," he made some more fat jokes.

For the record, I got an autographed mouse pad and donny pen gift set.

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