The Osmond Family's Transformation Over The Years

In the 1960s, the Osmonds made their public debut and took the country by storm. The group consisted of four singing brothers who touted themselves as a barbershop quartet. Over time, audiences came to know the entire family — including all nine of the Osmond siblings. As an openly Mormon family, the Osmond clan was admired for their wholesome image and strong moral values. In 1970, Alan, Wayne, Merril, Jay, and Donny Osmond branched out and formed a wildly successful pop-rock group. Marie Osmond became a country music sensation, and Jimmy Osmond launched his music career at the tender age of 5. Collectively, the sibling superstars sold more than 100 million albums. 

These days, Osmond fever has slowed down considerably — however, the Osmonds are far from irrelevant in current times. The group's pop-cultural influence spans more than six decades, and their staying power is unmatched. The Osmonds continue to permeate modern media — they've even popped up in contemporary staples like "Mulan," "Dancing With the Stars," and "The Masked Singer." 

From growing up in a small Utah town to building an entertainment dynasty, the rise of the Osmonds is truly remarkable — and there were plenty of twists and turns along the way. Scroll on to see how the Osmonds have evolved in the last half-century. 

The Osmonds were raised in the LDS church

The Osmonds grew up in Ogden, Utah, with their parents, George and Olive Osmond. The eldest child, Virl Osmond, was born in 1945, followed by his siblings Tom, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, and Marie Osmond. Jimmy, the youngest Osmond, came along in 1967. The nine siblings grew up in a loving but strict household. George and Olive were devoted Mormons and raised their children in the LDS Church. For the young Osmonds, religion was the epicenter of life. "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,'" Donny's son, Brandon Osmond, shared in a 2022 Fox 13 Salt Lake City segment.

In addition to worshiping at the LDS Church, the Osmond family had a strong affinity for music. The children learned to sing, dance, and play various instruments. During family nights, they entertained each other with cheerful songs and riveting musical performances. But there was also an intense side to George Osmond. In later years, some fans criticized the family patriarch for being a harsh disciplinarian and reportedly pressuring the kids to perform. However, Donny defended his father. "When you look at his background, the man is a hero," he told The Guardian in 2001. "Especially keeping nine children together in the world of show business. He really did it right, in my opinion. He disciplined us the best way he possibly could."

The boys took up singing to help support the family

The eldest Osmond siblings, Virl and Tom, were born with hearing loss. "My oldest brother was born 85 percent deaf and the next was born worse with almost total deafness," Donny Osmond told Ability Magazine. George and Olive Osmond were determined to support their sons — but since money was scarce, they had trouble affording hearing aids. 

Meanwhile, George had been teaching his younger sons how to harmonize. Soon, it became apparent that the children could use their talents to earn money. So, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay Osmond formed a singing group. They called themselves the Osmond Brothers Quartet and started performing at state fairs. With the extra income from their shows, the brothers pitched in to buy hearing aids for Virl and Tom.

To improve their communication with Virl and Tom, the younger Osmonds learned American Sign Language. Like their younger siblings, Virl and Tom were passionate about music and movement. They took up tap dancing, as well as playing saxophone and piano. The boys made numerous on-stage appearances with their celebrity siblings throughout the years. In 2020, Donny paid tribute to his eldest brother, Virl, on Facebook. "He was a phenomenal leader to our Osmond pack and highly invested in the success of each of his siblings," the singer gushed. "He continues to use and develop his unique gifts and abilities to bless the lives of those around him. We all love his contagious enthusiasm and giant heart."

The Osmonds were discovered at Disneyland

The Osmond Brothers Quartet gave their first performance in 1957 at a local church in Ogden. The brothers quickly became small-town legends — but they dreamed of capturing a much larger audience. So, the siblings took their show on the road and headed to Los Angeles. In 1961, they stood before the doors of a major Hollywood studio. The singers hoped to snag an audition for "The Lawrence Welk Show," a wildly popular variety program of the time. Unfortunately, things didn't work out. Rather than sulking about it, the family decided to spend a day at Disneyland. That visit to the Happiest Place on Earth changed their lives: As the story goes, The Osmond Brothers Quartet broke into song during their trip to the theme park, and Disney higher-ups took note of the kids' star power.

"Walt Disney actually discovered us," Jay Osmond recalled in a 2018 interview with Crowsfeat. "He had us singing at Disneyland and he put us on four of his television shows. I was six years old." The next year, Alan, Wayne, Merril, and Jay made their television debut when they sang on the program "Disney After Dark."

Disney opened numerous doors for the singing group. In the following decades, they joined several variety shows, sold millions of records, and launched a legendary entertainment career. Years later, Donny Osmond would return to Disney when he sang "I'll Make a Man out of You" for the animated film "Mulan."

The Osmonds got their start on a famous variety show

Shortly after their first television appearance, the Osmonds received another life-changing opportunity when they were invited to sing on "The Andy Williams Show." The siblings performed on the series from 1962 to 1969. In their inaugural appearance, the boys — with their red bowties and meticulously gelled hair — sang the hit song "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas." Fans were in awe of the adorable foursome. Donny joined the act in 1963, followed by Marie in 1964. 

Thanks to their incredible work ethic on the show, the group became known as the "One-take Osmonds." They made performing look effortless — but according to Jay Osmond, it was actually quite stressful. "We were under tremendous pressure whenever we performed on 'The Andy Williams Show,'" Jay told Music Reviews UK. "Every week, we had to do something different, whether it was pianos, tap dancing, ice skating, karate, or saxophones, we had to learn to do something new every week. One time they wanted me to play a drum solo and I hadn't even learned how to play the drums; man, I was six years old."

Despite the pressure, the Osmonds appreciated their time on "The Andy Williams Show" — and they were especially grateful to Andy Williams, who'd given them a major platform. "He really was like a member of our family," Alan Osmond once said of the legendary television host (via the Salt Lake Tribune).

They broke into the pop/rock scene in the early 1970s

By the early 1970s, the Osmond family had reached total celebrity status. However, they were also growing up, and they no longer looked like the bowtie-brandishing tots from the group's early days. Eager to reach new audiences, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, and Donny Osmond rebranded into a pop-rock group. 

Their first chart-topper, "One Bad Apple," was released in 1970. Along with their new sound, the brothers also got a fresh look. They traded their tuxedos for fringed vests and glitzy bellbottoms. They performed choreographed dances and flashed their megawatt smiles to scores of screaming fans. Channeling the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, they sported long, shaggy hair. The group generated a colossal fanfare that was dubbed "Osmondmania." The Osmonds produced numerous hits, including "Yo-Yo," "Down by the Lazy River," and "Crazy Horses."

Jimmy, the youngest Osmond, was busy notching out his own hit songs. At age 5, he earned a gold record in Japan for his single "My Little Darling." Four years later, he released his hit song "Long Haired Lover From Liverpool" and became the youngest artist to have a number-one single in the UK. Osmondmania had spread to every corner of the globe, but it wasn't always an easy road for the siblings. "We lived in a bubble," Merril recalled in an interview with On Magazine. "And that bubble wasn't penetrated by anybody because security was so intense around us."

The Osmonds became close friends with a member of the Jackson 5

Of course, the Osmonds weren't the only teen icons of the 1960s and '70s. One of their contemporaries was the Jackson 5, a group of ultra-talented siblings from Gary, Indiana. Their ranks included a young Michael Jackson, who would later be known as the legendary King of Pop. Many fans assumed the groups were rivals; however, they were actually friends. 

Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson became the breakout stars of their bands, so they shared an especially strong connection. The pair once went out to see a movie together, but they had to wear disguises to avoid being recognized by fans. Looking back, Osmond told Page Six, "It's really difficult talking about ... these two little teenagers who are just selling amazing amounts of records and having number-one records and very powerful recording artists, and all they want to do is just be kids."

In addition to his bond with Donny, Jackson seemed to get along well with all of the Osmond kids. Jay Osmond remembered Jackson fondly during an interview with U.K. Music Reviews. "We were all friends and we used to play football in the hallways of the hotels that we were staying in," Jay shared. "We have so many fun memories of the times that we got to hang out with those guys. Michael called me a turkey for what seemed like ages which started from when we were playing football in the hallways."

Donny Osmond was a teen heartthrob

Donny Osmond was the next sibling to embark on a solo career. In 1971, his single "Go Away Little Girl" sailed to the top of the U.S. pop charts. He followed up with more saccharin hits, including "Too Young" and "Puppy Love," which solidified his status as a teen heartthrob. Young girls swooned over the handsome crooner and his cutesy songs. Teen magazines like "Tiger Beat" portrayed him as a doe-eyed prince charming. Everywhere he went, Osmond was received by frantic, screaming fans. However, it wasn't long before he outgrew his teen idol image.

Osmond attempted to rebrand with an edgier look — but ultimately, he couldn't escape the shadow of songs like "Puppy Love." At one point, the singer was so fed up with fans asking him to play "Puppy Love" that he performed a spite-filled heavy metal version of the song. 

These days, however, Osmond has come to embrace his old, sappy tunes. "It was a tough transition, don't get me wrong," the singer told Page Six. "But when I sing 'Puppy Love' every night, I don't make fun of it, I do it legitimately with a beautiful orchestration." He added: "I had experiences where people said, 'Why are you making fun of ["Puppy Love"]? It's such an important part of my memory in my childhood.' And I realized, they're right. It just doesn't belong to me. For the past 50 years, it's been a part of the fabric of other people's lives as well.

Marie Osmond became a country music icon

As the only girl of nine famous siblings, Marie Osmond was always destined to be a standout. But sharing the stage with her ultra-famous brothers, she often looked like a background character rather than the main attraction. That all changed in the early '70s when Marie decided to go solo as a country music artist. Given that the Osmond name was inextricably tied to the pop-rock genre, some fans were surprised by the singer's career pivot — but for Marie, becoming a country singer was a no-brainer.

As she later revealed, Marie was impressed with the respect and creative license afforded to women in the country music industry. "Then Loretta Lynn came along," the singer recalled, per The Washington Post. "I thought, my gosh, this woman can write her music, she can be a mother, she can have hit records, she can be married, you don't have to be single and have a career for three years if you're lucky ... I saw that women were really treated wonderfully well, and so I went into country music."

In 1973 — when she was just 13 — Osmond saddled up and recorded her debut country single, "Paper Roses." The song soared to number one on the country music charts. Osmond followed up with more fan favorites like "Meet Me in Montana" and "There's No Stopping Your Heart."

Donny and Marie became a dynamic duo

Who comes to mind when you think of iconic sibling duos? In this day and age, it might be the Hadid sisters, or perhaps Taylor Swift and her brother Austin – but in the 1970s, Donny and Marie Osmond were the ultimate celebrity siblings. Following the height of Osmondmania and their successful solo careers, the pair hosted a top-rated variety show aptly called "Donny and Marie." The series aired from 1975 to 1979 and featured ice dancing, comedy skits, and performances by the sibling superstars. They welcomed an illustrious carousel of guests, including Cher, Chubby Checker, Lucille Ball, and Tina Turner. On the show, the brother and sister debuted their iconic tune "A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock 'N Roll."

In 1998, the duo reappeared for "Donny & Marie," a talk show that survived for two seasons. The siblings teamed up again in 2008 for a residency in Las Vegas. They spent 11 years performing in Sin City until the show wrapped in 2019. "There's so many projects we want to do individually," Donny told Entertainment Tonight after announcing the end of their Vegas show. "She's got her career, I've got my career ... We had no idea it would be 11 years. We started out as a six-week contract and here we are 11 years later."

They've endured failures, losses, and illnesses

During the 1980s, Donny Osmond's career hit a slump. He made several unsuccessful comeback attempts, including two unreleased albums and a failed Broadway show. The singer was declared a washed-up former celebrity and nearly went bankrupt. Donny's saving grace came in 1989 when his single, "Soldier of Love," climbed to number two on the Billboard pop charts. "The greatest thing that ever happened to me was I lost my career," Donny told Page Six. "And it's so strange for me to hear me say that because the '80s were the worst decade of my life because I didn't have a career."

Donny isn't the only Osmond to have endured a crisis. Over the years, many tragic details of Marie Osmond's life have surfaced — including the heartbreaking death of her son in 2010. The family has also faced numerous health struggles. In 1994, Wayne Osmond was diagnosed with and survived a rare form of brain cancer. Additionally, Alan Osmond and his son, David Osmond, both live with the debilitating condition multiple sclerosis. Still, the Osmonds have handled all of their hardships with grace. According to the siblings, family and faith are what keep them going. "We're very loyal to each other," Marie told KSL TV in 2023. "We love each other ferociously. And I don't believe anything will ever change that."

The Osmond family is still going strong

After more than six decades of building a legacy rooted in fun, entertainment, and family values, the squeaky-clean Osmonds haven't lost any of their charm. Although they're not quite as active these days, it's clear that the siblings are leading very full lives. Following in their parents' footsteps, all of the Osmonds became parents to large broods of their own; As People noted, they have 55 children between them.

Marie Osmond released her latest album in 2021. She's also appeared on Broadway and was briefly a co-host on "The Talk." The pop icon participated in Season 5 of "Dancing With The Stars," where she placed third. Donny Osmond, the former teen heartthrob, continues to perform on tour. In 2009, he won first place on "Dancing With The Stars." Donny has also appeared on several game shows, including "The Masked Singer."

Merrill Osmond hosted an inspirational podcast with his son, Justin Osmond. Jay Osmond moved to England and wrote a semi-biographical musical called "The Osmonds: A New Musical." Alan stepped away from the spotlight to raise his eight sons. Wayne Osmond is retired, but he's enjoying life with his children and grandkids. Jimmy, the youngest Osmond, dabbled in acting and producing. In 2018, he suffered a stroke while performing on stage and was forced to retire. These days, the former child star maintains a low profile.