On stage by the age of five, on tour by eight and receiving 50,000 fan letters a week by the time he was thirteen, Donny Osmond was the original pop idol. The seventh of nine children born into a strict Mormon family in Utah, Donny made his musical debut on The Andy Williams Show just before his sixth birthday with his singing brothers, The Osmonds.The first boy band, they dominated the early '70s with hits like "Crazy Horses" and "Love Me For A Reason," inspiring outbreaks of hysteria dubbed Osmondmania. Donny, the youngest and cutest, soon became a solo superstar, topping the UK charts with hits like "Puppy Love," "The Twelfth Of Never" and "Young Love" before teaming up with sister Marie for yet more hits. Between them they sold a staggering 80 million records.
In 1976 Donny and Marie turned their hand to television, hosting their own variety show, the hugely successful Donny & Marie Show. But in the '80s, his musical credibility hindered by his teen idol past, Donny’s career hit the doldrums. One old friend, Michael Jackson (a fellow child star from the Osmonds’ chief chart rivals, The Jackson Five), suggested a name change to avoid the ridicule of being an ex-teen idol; Donny’s manager even suggested he fake a drug habit to get some much-needed credibility. True to himself as ever, Donny did neither.
Osmond almost joined a band, Airplay, as their “unknown” singer; instead he made a disastrous debut on Broadway in the 1982 musical Little Johnny Jones, which opened and closed on the same night. Vowing to return to theater one day, he went back to music, forming an unlikely liaison with Peter Gabriel. The resulting album produced Osmond’s first U.S. hit for thirteen years, Soldier Of Love, thanks to an unusual marketing campaign that made the identity of the singer a mystery. Since then Osmond has worked with such equally improbable musical partners as Jeff Beck, Boy George and Chicago.
In the early '90s he seriously considered an offer to become a professional racing driver. Instead he studied acting, and subsequently made a move into musical theater, spending much of the '90s onstage in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which ran for six years and spawned a successful album and video. He went on to sing in the animated film Mulan, and starred in an animated U.S. series about his family. He also appeared at the 1997 Royal Albert Hall 50th birthday tribute to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. The following year, Donny and Marie teamed up again to host a new daytime television talk show featuring celebrity guests.
Osmond entered the 21st century with an album of Broadway showtunes, This Is The Moment, his first collection of new songs for a decade. Best known in America as a TV personality, he kept his profile up by appearing in a celebrity episode of Fear Factor (where he was stung by three scorpions). He now hosts the game show Pyramid, an institution on American television for nearly 30 years.
One of Donny’s proudest moments in a career full of highlights came in the 2002 Winter Olympics, when he carried the Olympic torch in his home state and performed at the Games closing ceremony.
Donny has been married to his childhood sweetheart, Debbie, for 24 years. They have five children — all boys — and live in their home state of Utah.