Osmond Brothers Are The Genuine Article
Omaha Entertainment Guide
By Peter Citron
August 29, 1968
Up and Down the Street
I can usually spot a phony in a matter of minutes, and show business certainly has more than its share – the glad-hand, condescending and insincere.
That’s why it’s such a genuine pleasure to run across an entire family as pleasant as the Osmonds, who are sharing the bill through tonight (Thursday) with Phil Ford and Mimi Hines at Ak-Sar-Ben.
From the moment the five brothers – Alan, 18, Wayne 16, Merrill 14, Jay 12, and Donny, 10 – arrived for a Sunday night rehearsal, their fine manners and unspoiled nature filled the immense coliseum, as their fine talent has all week.
Meeting Ak-Sar-Ben’s officials, each kid extended his hand and said, “Hi, I’m …” accompanied with a cheek-to-cheek smile. From then on, it was down to business for four hours, and the family machinery evidently as fluid as Hydramatic drive.
Alan worked with Eddy Haddad, whose band quickly picked up the complicated arrangements the Osmonds brought along. There was apparent respect from Haddad and the band, for this 18-year-old knows his way about music.
Papa Osmond and the four younger boys set up the stage, as Alan worked with the band, carting instrument cases to the dressing rooms, then making sure everything was to their satisfaction. The Osmonds carry with them a plethora of equipment, as each boy has mastered more than one instrument.
All play banjos and saxophones. Alan, Wayne, and Merrill strum guitars, while Jay beats the drums and Donny plays the organ in a combo arrangement, which incidentally, comprises a new look for the brothers made famous by Andy Williams.
As 16-year-old Wayne explains, “We’re not really changing our image, we’re adding to it.” The Osmonds, who have been popular with oldsters and youngsters for several years, now are trying to include that middle group – the ubiquitous teenagers – and their legion of followers. Toward this end, they have recorded a single, Mary Elizabeth, and have another one, I’ve Got Lovin’ On My Mind, coming out in a few days. Both are on Andy Williams’ label – Barnaby Records.
Ak-Sar-Ben-s delighted audiences noticed immediately that the Osmonds’ new look includes modified Beetle haircuts (“That’s as far as it’s going to go,” said Wayne) and some “up” rock tunes added to the familiar Peg O’ My Heart and others. “Now we’ve got a little bit of everything in our act,” said Wayne, “something for everybody.”
But, I still was most impressed with the seemingly genuine, unspoiled nature of the brothers. Their obvious respect for their father (and all adults for that matter) caused at least one spectator to comment, “I wish I just had one of those at home.”
Each younger boy looks to Alan for direction without the usual jealousies of such a large family. There are two older brothers, Virl 23, and Tom 21, who proceeded the act, and when Alan leaves for six months service in October, the mantle will fall on Wayne.
This family’s obvious solidarity is built on the trust and love. An interviewer’s approach to the father is answered with, “Why don’t you speak to Wayne; he knows everything and can explain it much better than I.” And when the youngest gets restless, it only takes one word of warning from Alan and the nonsense stops, without the dirty looks and muttered protests most older brothers get.
The protection and devotion of the older brothers for the younger was made ever more clear Monday morning when I stopped by their motel to take some group shots. Then little Jimmy, five, who appears briefly in the act, joined the quintet, and each brooded over him like a mother hen, arranging his clothing, combing his hair, etc.
Even off stage, the brothers dress alike and have done so apparently since birth. “Even before we got into show business,” explained Wayne, “Mother and Father dressed us alike. We don’t mind it; in fact, we enjoy it very much.” It sure must help the elder Osmonds sort their handsome sons out of a crowd.
The women in the family, including eight-year-old Marie, stay in the wings. In fact, the only glimpse I caught of them was in their motel room, where Mrs. Osmond was sitting on a bed ironing.
Though it is rarely mentioned, it is obvious the family’s deep commitment to the Mormon religion is one of its strongest building blocks. The two oldest brothers now are completing two-year-stints of missionary work for the church, and Alan may follow their example after….
(Note: this part of the article is missing and closes with the following sentence ..
….the very top of the show business ladder. They are the most talented kids in show business and probably the nicest. Their time must come.