Donny Osmond was born an entertainer. Before he even became a teenager, the young boy had already become a star with his brother in The Osmonds, and his life would never be the same again.
Stardom brought Donny Osmond to all parts of the world, enabling him to meet fans wherever he went, earn a lot of money, and choose to do anything he wanted… Though, there were also a lot of downsides to it. He has struggled with mental health issues, and when touring with The Osmonds, they got to witness the negative impacts Osmondmania could lead to.
In an instant, a balcony at Heathrow collapsed when fans wanted to greet him. And on another occasion, as Donny Osmond revealed not long ago, he almost lost one of his eyes.
Donny Osmond was born on December 9, 1957, in Odgen, Utah. Right from the start, he was an entertainer, performing alongside his older siblings as a part of The Osmonds when he was just a young child.
His older siblings, Alan, Wayne Merrill, and Jay, were already entertainers by the time Donny was born and had been singing together for many years. He was added to the group – and the rest is, as they say, history.
Donny Osmond – rise to fame
Donny was the seventh of nine children. His parents had always dreamed of having a large family, and Donny grew up in a home where religion was important. With that came strict discipline, but there was also a lot of music.
Both his parents – Olive and George – were singers, and every Friday night, the whole family got together to sing, play saxophone, and talk about things happening in the world.
At three years old, Donny and his family left Utah to pursue their extensive career in show business. The next destination was Hollywood.
While it initially was “traumatic,” at age 5, Donny Osmond and his brothers got their big breakthrough as they began performing on The Andy Williams Show.
“I went from an innocent child to a national television star. My career took on a life of its own,” he once recalled.
The Osmond brothers performed in front of thousands of screaming fans all over the US and even in Europe. It became what was known as Osmondmania – and in the UK, it became too much to handle for both fans and the brothers themselves.
On October 21, 1973, when Danny was 16 years of age, The Osmonds were met by a hysterical crowd of 10,000 fans as their plane landed at Heathrow Airport in London, England. The same scenes were seen when The Beatles arrived in various countries during the 1960s.
Just like how Beatlemania spread across the globe, the day The Osmonds arrived at Heathrow ended up being a serious incident that could’ve had some pretty dire consequences.
The infamous Heathrow accident
When Donny and his siblings’ plane had landed, more than 10,000 fans had packed the roof garden at the Queen’s Building at Heathrow Airport. However, too many people had been let onto the viewing site, and part of the balcony railing and wall collapsed. It was a slight miracle that only 18 girls were slightly injured, with four being treated at the hospital.
As reported by The Guardian at the time, after further inspection, it turned out that a 15-foot section of the railing and wall had collapsed 12 feet from an upper balcony to a lower one. The fact that many teenagers pressed forward toward an outer rail to get a glimpse of the Osmond brothers might have saved some.
“The worst problem was hysteria,” a helper at the Queen’s Building medical center, where first aid was provided, said at the time. “It was difficult at first to distinguish between girls who had been hurt and girls who were screaming and weeping from fright or from disappointment at missing a sight of the group.”
Donny Osmond and his siblings didn’t know what had happened at the time. They waved and smiled towards the thousands of fans that had turned up to greet them and left the airport in cars. However, when they arrived at the hotel room, they quickly understood what had happened.
“It was pretty cool, the screaming and the adulation, but I remember a moment right after the Heathrow experience where the balcony collapsed and we were banned from the airports,” Donny Osmond remembered in an interview with the Standard.
“I was in the hotel room with my brother Alan and we turn the television on that night and there was this programme with three people on – the presenter, a person from Scotland Yard and a child psychiatrist and they were debating whether or not Donny Osmond should be deported from England because of what he’s doing to all of our young kids. My brother turned to me and said, ‘You remember this moment because this never happens’. It was such a cool moment.”
The trip to London evidently didn’t start well. But as mentioned there fortunately weren’t any casualties. Just like The Beatles – and many other celebrities – had to run from crazy fans,
Donny Osmond almost lost an eye
Donny Osmond remembers one moment when “screaming girls” chased him and his brothers into an underground car park of the hotel. Security had to use a firehose to keep them out.
“I had the time of my life!” Osmond recalled. “Hundreds and hundreds of fans were able to get into the parking structure and [because] I had long hair at the time, they were just surrounding us. Our security guard, he saw me, and because of my long hair, he thought I was one of the fans so he threw me back into the fans and realised what he had done, but he couldn’t get to me because of all the fans. So I got on the floor, and I was sneaking to the entrance of the hotel, and one of the other security guards thought I was a fan and grabbed me and threw me back into the fans. It was awesome!”
While nothing serious happened when the fans chased the Osmonds beneath their hotel, there have been times when Donny Osmond actually has been very close to getting a severe injury because of fans.
When speaking with Metro, Donny recalled one time in Manchester, in the center of the “crazy Osmondmania,” when he almost lost an eye.
“I was walking into this hotel, and all these fans started rushing towards me. And one girl was just making a beeline. She had an autograph book in one hand and a pen in the other, and she gets to me and just wraps her arms around me as hard as she could, and the pen came around and hits me right [in the eye]. Almost took my eye out,” Osmond said.
“And back then, there were flashbulbs on cameras, she held it up that far from my eye, and I still have a mark in my eye from where the flashbulb went off – it kind of burnt the retina a little bit. I remember that moment because I see it every day. She had no idea, she was just overwhelmed in the moment. She didn’t know what she did, she was just excited to be there. But I was very lucky, I didn’t lose one eye and get blinded in the other. It was close to a disaster.”
Donny Osmond – the family man
Donny Osmond didn’t lose an eye, and luckily, he was able to continue his very successful career as if nothing had happened.
Today, the legendary singer has done pretty much anything one can imagine, including two Las Vegas residencies and creating a wonderful family with his wife, Debbie. They married back in 1978 and have six children and 14 grandchildren.
“It’s such a wonderful warm feeling to see your child become a parent and to see them raise their own children and to take on the kind of family traditions that Debbie and I have started. It’s such a great dynamic to see your children grow up to be parents. They graduate into that echelon of life just finding their own feet, finding their own wings.”, Osmond told People earlier in 2023.
Despite touring and having many projects going on simultaneously, Osmond is making sure to spend plenty of time with his children and grandchildren.
As his grandchildren are now growing up – with one being an adult – he’s come to realize how crazy his own life has been.
“What’s really fun is that now I’ve got an 18-year-old grandson, and I remember doing the Donny & Marie show when I was his age,” Donny Osmond explained. “For instance, I started singing at 4, professionally at 5 and when I look at these grandkids of mine, I think to myself, ‘How in the world did I get on stage and perform with my brothers at that age?’”
Every person would probably not have handled fame as well as Donny Osmond has. While he has gone through some very tough times, struggling with anxiety and mental health issues, the former child star is still very much active and healthy, giving his fans new music and exciting performances to this day,
“I’ve always tried to do my best”
Throughout his career, Donny Osmond has had to make many crucial decisions that have formed his career and life.
But when looking back, he wouldn’t have changed anything.
“There are certain things I think about – like why did I wear purple socks? But even that was kind of cool because it was my signature. There were some songs I wish they would have given me more time with, or that I did a better performance, but I kind of have come to the conclusion that I can’t regret anything I’ve done because I’ve always tried to do my best,” Osmond told Metro.
“Even when I was making the transition from teenybopper to adult performer,” he added. “there were certain songs and parts of my career I didn’t want revisited. I didn’t want to sing Puppy Love anymore, I was trying to get away from all that stuff. And then I grew up and looked back and embraced it. Even Bieber is going to do that one of these days. He’ll go back and sing, ‘Baby, baby, baby ooh!’ and enjoy it.”
If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you’d be interested in reading about why Donny Osmond’s sister, Marie, won’t leave any money to her kids.
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