Donny And Marie Talk Vegas, Fame, and Justin Bieber
by Erin Hill
April 25, 2011
||Donny & Marie Osmond have reunited for their first studio album together in thirty years. The duo is also keeping busy with their successful show at the Flamingo Hotel on the Last Vegas Strip, which has been extended through the end of 2012.
The icons of music and television talked to Parade.com about their long career together, how their family keeps them grounded, and why the sibling rivalry is real.
It's been thirty years since your last album together. Why the long wait?
D: Well, Marie always wanted top billing and I wouldn't give it to her! To be honest, we've been so busy in her individual careers and this Vegas show at the Flamingo has spawned a whole new resurgence of the Donny & Marie brand. There really wasn't a reason to do a Donny & Marie album until now.
M: After the Donny & Marie show, we did several albums together and then we went off and did our own thing. I went into country and Donny did his stuff, and we both did theater. We have our own lives, too. We have our families, our children, everything doesn't revolve on if you have a hit record, but there's no two people on this planet more appreciative than we are that we're still working after all these years.
What kind of big brother was Donny growing up?
D: Horrible! I think that was the reason behind the Donny & Marie sibling rivalry because I was always like, 'Marie do this, and Marie, do that' and over time she said, 'Ok enough of you!' and she went on to do her own thing. We have such a mutual admiration for each other on stage, but the sibling rivalry is real.
M: I have eight brothers, so he was kind of one of the pack. I'm close to all my brothers, we have a great family, but I do think Donny and I have a uniqueness in the sense that we grew up doing the Donny & Marie show together. We've been through similar experiences. Working with Donny has been a blast, just don't tell him that!"
What is working with a sibling really like?
M: We really are having a great time. It's interesting. There's a chemistry. I tell everybody it's kind of like an acid pill. It's almost like a Vulcan mind meld or something, you just kind of click.
D: What Marie and I do on stage is organic. Yes, there's a structure to the show, but when we go out there and we talk and we laugh and we have a good time and we tease each other -- that is all real.
What can audiences expect from your show in Las Vegas?
D: I've talked to quite a few people, even in the industry, and they've said that our show has pretty much redefined what Vegas needed -- and that is variety. We've been performing here since the beginning of time. We've brought such variety here and Donny & Marie have the ability to bring people back to a more innocent time and still give them a show that's up-to-date.
M: It's a very personable show, and I think that's what people say the most when they leave. They go, 'Wow, that was entertainment.' People fly over from Australia and Asia and England just to come see Donny and Marie together. We see that we've been a part of their lives, but it's really important for them to see that they've been a part of our lives. It's funny when people come up and say, 'This is my bucket list to meet you,' and I'm thinking, 'Wow!' We have amazing fans.
How do your children react to your iconic status?
M: I think I'm just their mother, really. I think they're proud of me. My daughter works with me at the show here in Vegas, she designs my clothes for me and she's terrific. And when I lost my weight she was like, 'Oh, my mom is hot!' I think they like it because they can steal from my closet a lot more than they used to!
D: My five-year-old grandson asked me the other day, 'Who's Donny? 'And I said, 'Well, I'm Donny' and he said, 'But, you're grandpa,' and I said, 'Who do you think Donny is?' and he said, 'Oh, he's that guy on TV.' They watch the old Donny & Marie shows all the time on DVD, so to them, Donny is a personality on television, but in another part of their mind, I'm their grandpa. It freaks me out to say I'm a grandpa, but I am!
Marie, what's your one wish for your children?
M: I think it's important that they follow their own dreams and find their passion. I think anybody who follows their passion will be successful. I tell my children to work hard, be ethical, get an education, and follow your dreams.
Can you remember a time when you weren't famous?
D: I really can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't on television. But there was a time when I didn't think I would be able to make it back into the music industry. It was Christmas of 1988, and I thought my career was over. I thought maybe I've gotta find another line of work because I've got kids to put through college. Then 'Soldier of Love' hit and they called it the comeback of the 80s.
M: It's interesting. I guess I'm unique in the sense that I have been working 48 years in the business. I feel blessed. I've been in it all my life and I don't really know anything else. I've never really known it any other way and maybe that's an advantage. Maybe it's a disadvantage. I think the advantage is that I grew up in it, I had a great family, I had awesome parents, and I saw some of the good things and some of the bad things. I was really fortunate to work at the tail end of what I call the age of the amazing entertainers. I got to work with Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, and Elvis. So it was a great opportunity to be an entertainer, not just a celebrity.
What's your advice to today's young stars like Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift?
D: It's a bumpy rollercoaster ride. Hang in there buddy because if you can just maintain your integrity with your music and who you are, you can ride that rollercoaster and not get bruised. Don't take anything for granted.
M: Keep working and keep reinventing yourself and have your passion. I've always said if you're not nervous before you go on stage to do a good job, than you shouldn't be going on stage. And take care of your instrument. People joke and call us wholesome, but I've watched many of my peers lose their talents and overdose and die and get so out of it that they couldn't even perform anymore. Be grateful for the gift you've been given.
What's next for Donny & Marie?
D: I'm going to do a one-man show this summer. It's the next thing for me to challenge myself as an artist. It's going to be stripped down and just me and the music.
M: I love my work with the Children's Miracle Network. I'm one of the founders. That's probably my love and passion. I also have my new solo album -- it's my first inspirational one -- called I Can Do This. I'm giving all my proceeds to the Children's Miracle Network on behalf of my son Michael. I love being service-oriented. I think it helps you focus on what's real in life.