Marie Osmond has been singing, dancing, and charming her way into the hearts of audiences for decades. But behind the wholesome image is a saga of love, tragedy and continuous reinvention. Far from being just another face in a crowd of popular names, her staying power in the entertainment industry is more layered than meets the eye.
1. She Has A Controversial Faith
Although Marie Osmond is a household name for many, few people know her controversial beginnings. She was born Olive Marie Osmond on October 13, 1959, in Ogden, Utah into a very large Mormon family—a religion that would put Marie under fire before long. And that wasn’t the only odd thing about Marie’s upbringing.
2. Her Family Was Perfect For One Thing
Marie’s family was quite the crew. Marie wasn’t only the second-youngest in a huge brood of nine, she was also the only girl, and had eight brothers to contend with growing up. Still, this big family did come in handy: Her mother Olive and particularly her father, George, got their many children into singing barbershop harmonies.
As it turned out, this was the beginning of Marie’s fame, but not in the way you might think.
3. Her Brothers Stole Her Spotlight
When the Osmonds entered the music scene in the 1960s, it was initially as a barbershop quartet. But there was one thing missing. As one of the youngest and shyest in the family, Marie didn’t initially participate in any of the music endeavors, and the boys had all the fun at first, performing as The Osmond Brothers. Still, temptation was about to hit.
4. She Tasted Fame Early
Despite her reluctance to get into the burgeoning family business, Marie did perform with her brothers on The Andy Williams Show at the tender age of four. While she stayed dormant for years after, the fame bug didn’t leave her alone: By the early 1970s, Marie’s mother had convinced her to start working on an album.
Still, no one could have known the pain that was already roiling around inside her.
5. She Carried A Heavy Burden
At first glance, Marie’s youth seemed relatively sunny and bright. However, she harbored some deep secrets from an early age. While she never publicly disclosed all the details, she has revealed that someone intimately mistreated her when she was a child. Marie was quick to note that this person wasn’t a relative…but there was worse to come.
6. Her Mother Disappointed Her
The Osmonds had a reputation of being a perfect family unit—maybe too perfect—but Marie still felt they failed her. She admitted to being particularly angry at her mother for not somehow realizing what was going on during this time, though she later acknowledged that once she grew up, she understood there are things even mothers miss. Still, there were further consequences.
7. She Questioned Her Sexuality
With no one in her family to turn to, Marie’s secret began to affect her life in other ways. She began to view men as inherently dangerous and repulsive, a trauma reaction that led the little girl to think she might be gay. Although this didn’t end up being the case, it was a whole lot to carry into stardom with her. But that’s exactly what she was about to do.
8. She Took A Different Path Than Her Brothers
While making her first album, Marie Osmond was not one to cave into the peer pressure that was her family. Although her siblings generally preferred performing rock music, she decided to go a completely different route. Boy, did it pay off: In 1973, she recorded the country song “Paper Roses” and it became the #1 country song on the charts at the time.
But Marie was just getting started.
9. She Made A Crucial Decision
After continued success, Marie and her family got a brilliant idea. Throughout the Osmond boys’ rise to fame, her brother Donny had ended up as something of a teen heartthrob, and it seemed like the perfect thing to get the siblings to start recording together. It was. In 1974, two of their duets soared to the Top 10 of the pop charts.
But all this led to something that made them even more famous.
10. She Struck Gold
Capitalizing on the success of their musical chemistry, Marie and Donny began hosting an extremely popular variety show in 1975, Donny & Marie. It was the start of one of the defining periods of Marie’s life. Even after Donny & Marie went off the air in 1978, executives simply renamed it The Osmond Family Hour. Yet behind the scenes at Donny & Marie, all was not well.
11. She Was A Target
Being a young, beautiful, and female certainly had its downsides for Marie. While co-hosting Donny & Marie, she received unwanted male attention. Although Marie has expressed that inappropriate behavior occurred on more than one occasion with multiple guest stars, there was one creepy moment with a famous man she couldn’t forget.
Marie specifically highlighted feeling uncomfortable when comedian Groucho Marx pinched her, later calling him “a dirty old man”. Unfortunately, dirty old men were the least of Marie’s problems during this time.
12. Her Producers Were Horrible To Her
While airing Donny & Marie, producers began to tell Marie that she needed to lose weight. Being only 103 lbs at the time, it was hardly a medical fact that she was “obese”, but that’s the word they used all the same. Even worse, Marie remembered that they told her at this weight she was “disgusting and a disgrace to my family”. And there were other issues, too.
13. She Had Gruelling Work Days
Marie was hardly protected by child labor laws as a youngster. Growing up, she worked 20-hour days on the set of the Donny & Marie show. Together, the sibling duo had the task of quickly memorizing an abundance of scripts, dance moves, and songs, a gargantuan task for anyone at the time, let alone for the teenaged Marie.
Thankfully, though, she met someone who would finally help her out.
14. She Had A Famous Mentor
Being surrounded by so many brothers, Marie began craving a little female mentorship. She found exactly that when Lucille Ball guest starred on the Donny & Marie show. A friendship between the seasoned comedian and young starlet ensued, and they found themselves playing Scrabble together, with Lucy sharing tidbits of wisdom with Marie.
Maybe, though, Ball should have given Marie advice on the next chapter of her life…
15. She Turned Down An Iconic Role
Believe it or not, it was Marie who first received an offer to play the iconic role of Sandy in the 1978 blockbuster Grease. She turned it down for a very specific reason. Marie disagreed with the premise that the lead female character should turn into a “bad girl” just to impress a guy. And although she had a point, the role of Sandy did turn Olivia Newton John into a star.
That said, Marie Osmond’s judgement had other pitfalls. That same year, she did a bombshell interview that turned many against her.
16. She Didn’t Like To Speak Her Mind
Barbara Walters always asks the difficult questions, and she didn’t hold back in a 1978 sit-down with Marie and her brother Donny. See, as the Osmonds rose to fame, people started whispering about the “cultish” and traditional qualities of their Mormon religion. Walters, responding to this, dove right in and asked Marie if she thought women came second in Mormonism.
Marie…didn’t soothe her fans’ worries. Although she denied women came second, she followed that comment up by saying that a house “needs a patriarch” and asserted that speaking your mind was “the man’s job”. Um, but it gets worse.
17. Her Mormonism Came Under Fire
Also during this infamous Barbara Walters interview, the journalist revealed that Black people at the time couldn’t take up the priesthood within Mormonism, and asked Marie and Donny why that was so. Their answer was stunning. For his part, Donny fumbled through a non-answer before saying it was just “how the Lord wants it”. Meanwhile, Marie said nothing.
Still, as much as Marie’s professional life was going up in flames, her personal life was giving it a run for its money.
18. She Had A Broken Engagement
Marie had spent years giving off good girl vibes on the Osmond variety show, but her love life was nothing short of tumultuous. In 1979, when she was just 20 years old, she became engaged to acting student, Jeff Crayton. For someone religious as Marie, it likely meant a lot–but that didn’t stop the couple from breaking it off a mere two months later.
And with this rough start, her romances only got messier.
19. She Loved Famous Men
After nearly marrying the relatively unknown Jeff Crayton, Marie developed a surprising type. She began going for famous men, dating Hollywood heartthrobs like Erik Estrada from the television show CHiPs and Andy Gibb, a solo artist who just so happened to be brothers with the pop group the Bee Gees. Still, who she ended up with was even more of a surprise.
20. She Married An Athlete
After playing the field in her youth, Marie wound up marrying Stephen Lyle Craig, a basketball player with Brigham Young University. The couple married in 1982 and just one year later they welcomed a son, also named Stephen. Marie’s personal life was looking up, but what goes up must go down, and something was about to give.
21. She Was A Laughing Stock
While Marie was flying high in love during the early 1980s, she got embarrassing news. Her singing career was taking a serious nosedive. In 1984, she released the single, “Who’s Counting” to much criticism and derision. For those who were counting, the song reached only a meager #82 on the country music charts. Yet being near the bottom only pushed Marie harder, and she came back bigger than ever before.
22. She Bounced Back
At the beginning of the 80s, it looked like Marie Osmond’s legacy was going to be some 70s kitsch people would have rather forgotten about. Well, she turned that right around: Her 1985 country album There’s No Stopping Your Heart snagged her two #1 hit singles, and is still one of her most famous albums. It was set to be another banner year for Marie…until heartbreak hit.
23. She Went Through An Embarrassing Divorce
Marriage wasn’t something Marie or the rest of the Osmond family would have ever taken lightly, so the next development hit her hard. After just three years together, Marie and her husband Stephen had grown so far apart that they couldn’t even stay together for their son, and they divorced in 1985. But Marie didn’t wait long to rebound.
24. She Had A Quickie Second Wedding
Almost a year to the day of her divorce from Stephen Craig, Marie had already found another man she wanted to marry. On October 28, 1986, she tied the knot with Brian Blosil at the Mormon Jordan River Temple in Utah. The couple went on to have seven children, two biological and five adopted, and it appeared Marie finally had it all. But appearances can be deceiving.
25. She Had A Little-Understood Illness
Marie’s growing family brought her a lot of happiness, but it also came with a high price. After one of her births, she dealt with debilitating exhaustion, self-pity, sadness, and even “uncontrollable shaking”. After some investigative work with her medical team, she realized she had postpartum depression, and struggled to get back on track. Unfortunately, so did her career.
26. She Went Out Of Style
By the 1990s, Marie’s musical career was well past its prime. The country world had turned to grittier, more outlaw vibes in its top hits, and Marie’s sugary sweet pop style of country singing was now utterly quaint. Although she tried to release more hit songs and albums around this time, nothing ever panned out, and her singing career effectively ended.
At a loss for what to do next, Marie turned to an old habit.
27. She Tried And Failed To Repeat Her Success
In 1998, with her solo career behind her, Marie went back to what she thought would work. She and her brother Donny reignited their sibling chemistry and began co-hosting a talk show called, you guessed it, Donny & Marie. All she got was more heartbreak. First, the remixed show was no great hit, and there were deeper problems on set.
28. Her Brother Was A “Dictator”
Marie and Donny looked like happy siblings when they were on America’s television sets. Except nothing could have been further from the truth. In the 1970s when they were working together, both Donny and Marie got used to her following whatever orders her older brother gave. Yet now that they were both older, this wasn’t flying in the new Donny & Marie.
Instead, the pair squabbled so much that they had to bring in their director as a mediator. Eventually, Donny admitted he had to give up his “dictator” ways…only, Marie’s flaws might have been worse.
29. She Made Diva Demands
Marie may have had some humble beginnings, but she grew out of that—real quick. By the time she was doing the Donny & Marie remake, her demands reached epic proportions. Like Mariah Carey after her, Marie is infamous for insisting on changing set lights whenever she does interviews to customize her needs.
She also frequently “asks” for larger dressing rooms to accommodate family and pets. Maybe that’s part of what went wrong on Donny & Marie. Either way, producers canceled the show after just two years…and Marie came up with yet another comeback idea.
30. She Was Desperate To Stay Relevant
Marie had already gone through the torment of being so last season, so in 2004 she went a completely different direction and decided to experiment with a radio show next. Marie and Friends mostly played on adult contemporary stations in the hopes of recapturing her original audience. But after just 10 months, producers canceled it too. And that’s when the spiraling may have begun.
31. She Became The Subject Of Some Vicious Rumors
In 2006, with her revival show and her radio show in the dust, Marie’s life took a terrifying turn. She was hospitalized suddenly and without any direct reasoning. Scrambling to make sense of it and aware of Marie’s previous struggles with postpartum depression, many tabloids began speculating that she had tried to take her own life. Marie’s story was much different.
32. She Defended Herself
After her release from the hospital, Marie was quick to silence the rumors and give the whole story. Her representatives vehemently denied the tabloid claims. Instead, they asserted that Marie simply had a bad reaction to some medication she was taking. Even so, these whispers of mental health issues never left her.
33. The Woman Danced Until She Dropped
Marie appeared on the fifth season of Dancing with the Stars, which aired in 2007. Thanks largely to popular votes, she placed third, proving that in many ways she was still one of America’s sweethearts. It wasn’t easy, either. She notoriously fainted after her performance in week five. Plus, her brother Donny eventually one-upped her and won the whole competition in season 9. Thanks bro.
34. She Lost Mega Pounds
Marie’s constant dancing served as a huge workout for her, and she dropped nearly 50 pounds while on Dancing with the Stars. Unlike in her youth when producers were pressuring her to shed weight she didn’t need to, this time Marie did it for her overall health and as a preventative action against heart disease, which she reported runs in her family.
35. She Fired The Man Who Helped Her Get Famous
In 2009, Marie’s dramatic life flared up again. This time, people in the entertainment industry were shocked when she fired her long-time manager Karl Engemann. Engemann had been with her for a whopping 35 years, almost right from the beginning. According to Marie’s allegations, however, he had been swindling her for quite some time. But that wasn’t the end of the story.
36. She Was In The Middle Of A Lawsuit
Marie’s discomfort with Karl Engemann was apparently mutual, and he had some allegations of his own. Before she knew it, Engemann filed a lawsuit against Marie for overdue funds. It was so bitter that the two later went into private arbitration. This settled the matter at long last for both of them. Yet with one crisis averted, Marie would soon find other personal matters put on public display.
37. She Stood Up For Her Daughter
Marie hadn’t always had the most progressive ideas, but in 2009 she took a stand for civil rights. Her reasons were intensely personal. After her daughter, Jessica, disclosed that she was a lesbian, Marie went on record to say that she supported her daughter. She wanted her, and other queer people, to achieve everything they wished for in life.
38. She Went Solo For The First Time In Decades
In the new millennium, Marie set her sights next on the silver screen yet again. As a way to get back on the scene, she began hosting her own variety show, Marie, in 2012. Although the show didn’t last long, it did clock a record-breaking 320,000 viewers on the Hallmark channel, and she was an Executive Producer for the series.
Plus despite the sad ending, Marie seemed to inspire her to make her next big career move.
39. She Became A TV Regular
Just after Marie went off-air, Marie Osmond began filling in as a guest host for The Talk, starring a panel of show business women like Roseanne’s Sara Gilbert, Leah Remini from King of Queens fame, and Ozzy Osbourne’s wife Sharon Osbourne. Then, in 2019, Marie became a full member of the cast…until it all fell apart.
40. She Had On-Set Drama
After just one season at The Talk, Marie made an announcement that sent tongues wagging. She informed the public that she would not be returning to the show. While she claimed it was on her own terms, many assumed there was drama on set. After all, Marie and co-host Sharon Osbourne recently tussled on camera.
After a disagreement, Marie said in a conciliatory way, “I’m just like you”. Sharon, however, shot back, “You’re nothing like me”. Still, Marie and Sharon both deny there’s a feud at all, leaving this one a mystery.
41. She Has Her Own Holiday
On October 4, 2019, Marie received a star with her brother, Donny, alongside the Las Vegas Walk of Stars. The honor serves as a note of gratitude for headlining a live variety show at the Flamingo Hotel for more than a decade. Since receiving the star, October 4th has officially become “Donny & Marie” day, at least in Las Vegas.
42. She Learned Karate From A Legend
When they were rising in the music world, Marie’s brothers received feedback that their dance moves were “feminine”. This had a surprising result. To macho up their moves, they wound up training with Chuck Norris, who had opened up a chain of karate schools and had a string of celebrity clients. Not wanting to stay out of this act, Marie joined the lessons too.
43. She Received Early Recognition
Although Marie had not been a family name for all that long in the mid-1970s, she and Donny were very quick to receive notoriety within the industry for those early duets they did together. In 1976, the sibling duo received a prestigious award from the American Academy of Achievement known as the “Golden Plate Award”.
44. She Founded An Incredible Organization
Marie was not one to simply perform and entertain. In the early 1980s, she co-founded the Children’s Miracle Network alongside actor John Schneider, who was most famous from The Dukes of Hazzard. The organization’s mission was to raise funds for children’s hospitals across North America. But when it comes to charity, Marie has made even bigger moves.
45. She’s Leaving Her Kids Out Of Her Will
Marie Osmond and her legacy are very much still alive and well, but that hasn’t stopped her from thinking ahead. Osmond has gone on record stating that when her time comes, she will not leave her money to her children, but instead plans to donate it all to charities in need. According to her, her children need to make their own money—though tragically, she lost one of them before he got the chance.
46. She Feuded With A Talk-Show Host
2007 was a bitter year for Marie. Not only did her marriage to Brian Blosil end, but one of her most private anguishes was put on display. For some time, her son Michael had been battling with addiction, a fact that most people in media didn’t know or talk about. Until, that is, Larry King had her on his show and needled her for her personal details about her son’s recent entry into rehab.
The question deeply blindsided and offended Marie. But it soon became clear what the real issue was.
47. Larry King Had A Vendetta Against Her
Larry King later acknowledged that he was harboring some bitterness after both Marie and her brother Donny agreed to an interview with Oprah—instead of an exclusive with him—in celebration of their 50-year anniversary in the entertainment industry. After mutual apologies, the feud ended rather peacefully, but the drama was far from over in Marie’s life.
48. She Lost Her Son In A Brutal Way
As it turned out, Larry King had been poking a very sore spot when it came to Marie’s son Michael, whose issues ran deeper than anyone could have guessed. Soon, utter tragedy hit. After suffering from addiction and depression from as early as 12 years old, Michael ended up taking his own life in 2010, devastating Marie and all of show business.
With her life in smithereens, Marie only knew one way to cope.
49. She Worked Through Her Grief
Unsurprisingly, Marie reported this experience of losing her son as the most difficult one she had ever encountered. Remarkably, she clung to her work to move forward. Just two weeks after losing Michael, Marie was back on stage with Donny at their show in Las Vegas, saying “The way Osmonds survive is we keep singing, and I know my son would want that”.
Yet for all this unimaginable tragedy, there was a happy and unexpected twist in Marie’s future.
50. She Fell Back In Love With An Old Flame
Surviving the rainstorm that was the loss of her son, Marie found herself in love with a familiar face. Just a year after her child’s passing, she went on to re-marry her first husband, Stephen Craig. The details are heartwarming. During the small ceremony, Marie re-wore her 1982 wedding dress.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23