I know that I haven’t posted on the blog in quite some time, but I couldn’t let a certain person’s birthday pass without mention. On 3rd December, father of the holiday season, Andy Williams would have been 90 years old. Not only was he well known for hits such as Moon River and Born Free, but the Christmas specials of his television show (which ran from 1962-1971) were a sight to behold. Those who grew up in the 70’s are probably au fait with a phomenon known as ‘Osmond Mania’. I may be 17, but recently an admiration for the seven piece family band has overtaken me too. This is thanks to Mr. Williams.
The year was 1962. Andy’s father, Jay, caught wind of a male barbershop quartet that were singing at Disneyland. This style of music wasn’t uncommon within the park, but something about the performers struck a chord with him. It was almost as if there was a familiarity about them. The quartet was made up of four brothers: Alan (aged 12), Wayne (aged 10), Merrill (aged 8), and Jay (aged 6). Their last name? Osmond. The Osmond Brothers reminded Andy’s father so much of The Williams Brothers (a very similar quartet in which Andy started his career), that he suggested that his son give them a one-off appearance on his new variety show. See them make their second appearance here.
The brothers tight harmonies proved so popular with the viewers that they were asked back time after time. Sometimes they even sang with Andy and his guests! In 1963, another brother was inducted into the act at age 5. His name was Donny. Although he wasn’t consistently featured in the act until 1966, he slotted in perfectly, and gradually the group’s musical numbers became more complex. See Donny’s debut here.
In 1964, the only Osmond sister, Marie made her debut at age 3. Nevertheless, the name of the act remained The Osmond Brothers. Never fear, Marie would get her time to shine after his show ended. Nicknamed the ‘one-take Osmonds’ by everyone that they worked with, they picked up new gimmicks in a flash. One week they would be tap dancing atop grand pianos, the next performing intricate ice skating routines, all whilst singing in harmony. See Marie’s debut here.
In retrospect, 1963 was a big year for the Osmond clan. Not only did Donny make his debut, but the family was made complete with the arrival of baby Jimmy. The ninth and final Osmond child made his Andy Williams debut in 1967 at the age of 3. Although he only appeared on the show a couple of times after this, he certainly made his mark. See Jimmy’s debut here.
I think it’s time for a little sibling recap. It should also be noted that there are two other brothers who were not part of the group, as they were born with severe hearing impairments:
George ‘Virl’ Osmond Jr. (19th October 1945)
Tom Rulon Osmond 26th October (1947)
Alan Ralph Osmond (22nd June 1949)
Melvin ‘Wayne’ Osmond (28th August 1951)
Merrill Davis Osmond (30th April 1953)
Jay Wesley Osmond (2nd March 1955)
Donald Clark Osmond (9th December 1957)
Olive ‘Marie’ Osmond (13th October 1959)
James ‘Jimmy’ Arthur Osmond (19th April 1963)
Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, and Donny continued to appear on The Andy Williams Show until 1970, and the entire group reunited with Andy on various shows throughout the rest of his career.
Needless to say, I don’t think I need to continue with the rest of this story. We all know how successful The Osmonds were, and continue to be. Donny and Marie have just been booked for their tenth consecutive year in Vegas! Throughout all of their highs (and lows), they have remained loyal and committed to their Mormon faith. Whatever your views on religion, I believe that this is extremely commendable. Also, their love for family is always palpable and this makes me feel deliciously warm inside.
Of course the unwavering support of their parents George and Olive, along with their own talents, has contributed to most of their achievements. But I’d like to take the time to thank Mr. Andy Williams for giving the Osmonds a platform to in which to introduce their talents to the world. I bow my head to you, ‘Mr. Christmas’.