Tragic Details About Donny Osmond

Donny Osmond would seem to have it all. He's been happily married to the same woman since 1978, with the pair going on to have five kids and umpteen grandchildren. Apart from a lull in the 1980s, he's remained an ever-present in the showbusiness world for more than half a century and his current net worth stands at a reported $18 million.

But the man who once seemed to adorn every teenage girl's bedroom hasn't always had it easy. Indeed, while you wouldn't necessarily know it from those sparkling white teeth and that cheeky grin, the "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" star has faced his fair share of hardships over the years.

From the difficulties of growing up in the public eye and parental disapproval to Broadway disasters and several family tragedies, here's a look at 14 times the "Sweet and Innocent" singer had to deal with the darker side of life.

Donny Osmond was bullied by the press

Donny Osmond may have managed to avoid any bullies at school — thanks to his child star career he only spent approximately a month in public education. But his head was essentially dunked down the toilet by the nation's press instead.

While speaking to British chat show "Loose Women" in 2016, Osmond recalled one particularly brutal takedown which still has an effect on him to this day. He said (via Mirror), "I was 14 or 15, doing my gig, and it's working. I'm one of the biggest teeny boppers in the world, and Rolling Stone magazine comes out with an article which says 'the worst day in rock'n'roll history was the day Donny Osmond was born. A teenager is just trying to figure out who he is, let alone having that. That's the ultimate bullying. It really hurt me."

The "Soldier of Love" singer went on to admit that he's been targeted throughout his life due to his famous family and strict moral values. But luckily, he now has an answer for his critics. He added, "And it's like: 'In your face everybody, I'm the last one laughing. I'm the last one standing.'"

Donny Osmond's teenage years were lonely

You might think that Donny Osmond's teenage years were the stuff of dreams. After all, he was a chart-topping pop star adored by millions across the world. But in an interview with Closer Weekly in 2021, the former pin-up claimed that the fantasy of superstardom was far removed from the reality.

The "Dancing With the Stars" winner said, "I was just so lonely. You go back to the early 1970s, and you've got literally thousands of screaming girls at those concerts yelling your name, but then you go back to a very quiet hotel or the bus. I learned what loneliness is in life."

Osmond's isolated experiences meant that he was able to relate with another pop idol who found fame at a very young age, Justin Bieber, and his single "Lonely," in particular. "I remember crawling up into a ball," he told People the year previously. "In a corner and crying my eyes out really from loneliness. So I know what Justin's going through, what he's been through. And it was at that time in my life, I thought I need to take care of myself."

Donny Osmond's father disapproved of his marriage

Donny Osmond appears to have one of the most stable marriages in all of Hollywood. The "Puppy Love" singer is still together with his teenage sweetheart Debbie Glenn, who he walked down the aisle when they were both still on the cusp of adulthood. But there was one close family member who believed that the star would risk alienating his fan base if he took himself off the market.

In a 2017 chat with The Guardian, Osmond recalled how he began dating Glenn in secret away from the public eye. He added, "By the time I was 19, I knew I was in love and had to do something right for me. When I told my dad, he said, 'Well, there goes your career, but this is ushering in your personal life.'" Undeterred, the pair exchanged their vows at Salt Lake City's The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the spring of 1978.

Osmond acknowledges that his dad George may have had a point — he didn't score another solo chart hit for another decade — but he still has no regrets about walking down the aisle: "... Debbie is an amazing person to be with. If I hadn't married her, I'd have been a mess. Now I had someone who understood me and with whom I could build a future together."

Donny Osmond's wife was sent threatening letters

Donny Osmond's father George wasn't the only one to disapprove of the "Go Away Little Girl" singer tying the knot. Much of the pop idol's adoring fan base were left brokenhearted after hearing the news that he'd married teenage sweetheart Debbie Glenn. And they sure let the object of their affections know that they were unhappy about the situation.

During a 2022 appearance on "The Drew Barrymore Show," Osmond revealed that he was forced to date Glenn in secret for nearly four years in order to avoid a fallout with his army of admirers. But unable to keep his nuptials in the dark, the pin-up then had to deal with everything from record-burning parties to hate mail, with the hate often directed toward his wife.

Osmond said, "She's this sweet little girl from Montana, she's the most amazing woman and saved my life." Luckily, the "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" star doesn't appear to hold a grudge. After acknowledging that some viewers watching may have been responsible for the campaign of terror, he added, "I won't hold it against you."

Donny Osmond found the child star curse tough to break

Donny Osmond had sold millions of records, topped the charts and enjoyed small screen success with his sister Marie on their eponymous variety show all by the age of 21. But it was around this age that he was dismissed by the industry as a has-been. And it took another ten years for the former teen idol to make such naysayers eat their words.

In a 2022 interview with Fox News, Osmond recalled how hard it was to leave his child star beginnings behind: "It is a curse when you hit it big as a little kid because everyone wants to keep you in that pigeonhole ... It's very difficult to break out of that teenybopper career. But thank goodness that through perseverance and a lot of support from my fan base, it happened. But it takes an awful lot of work to be accepted as an adult."

Osmond was advised to change his name and even deliberately get arrested in order to shatter his squeaky-clean image, but wisely came to the conclusion that a life in the tabloids wasn't for him: "I decided long ago that I wasn't going to do it with scandals, trickery or promotional campaigns. I was going to do it with my music, which is a really difficult way to do it. But it happened. And it took me 10 years. But I wanted the music to speak for itself."

A young Donny Osmond was beaten by his father

While out on tour in Sweden at the age of just eight years old, a deeply homesick Donny Osmond wrote a letter to his mother revealing just how hard he was finding life on the road. Unfortunately, instead of being reassured or rescued, the child star was forced to suffer a beating at the hands of his strict disciplinarian father.

Indeed, after learning about Donny's bout of homesickness, George Osmond decided that the best course of action was to both physically attack him and deliver a lecture on the art of being grateful. You might expect that the "Hey Girl" singer to have been scarred for life by this punishment. But in a 2001 interview with The Guardian, Donny revealed that he doesn't hold a grudge. In fact, he still believes his dad is a hero.

The former teen idol said, "I got over that quickly and realized my father is not perfect but he did the best he could. He was very strict and all that, but you have to remember that he was an army sergeant who was raised by an abusive stepfather and he was kicked out of the house when he was in his teens ... He really did it right, in my opinion. He disciplined us the best way he possibly could." However, Donny was keen to point out that he disciplined his own five children in a completely different way.

Donny Osmond nearly lost an eye

One of the downsides of being adored by millions of fans across the world is that said fans often have no concept of physical boundaries. And Donny Osmond learned that the hard way during the height of Osmondmania when he was nearly blinded by an overzealous admirer.

The drama occurred during a visit to Manchester as the "When I Fall In Love" singer explained to Metro: "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 went on to reveal that he still has a mark in his eye thanks to the camera flashbulb that went off at the time, burning into his retina in the process. And there isn't a day goes by when he doesn't think about the encounter as a result: "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 suffers from severe anxiety

On paper, Donny Osmond's turn in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is one of the big success stories of his career. The former pin-up played the leading man in the Toronto production of the show more than 2,000 times across the space of six years before starring as the lead in the 1999 movie version. But on a personal level, it was a period plagued by insecurities, panic attacks and general anxiety.

"It's like you're standing in the middle of an intersection, and here comes a massive semi right at you at 90 miles an hour, and you can't do anything about it," Osmond told People in 2022 about his mental health battles in the 1990s. "I would walk on stage knowing I was going to die. It was horrible."

Luckily, Osmond had the support of his family, most notably wife Debbie, to help him cope during this difficult period. And he advised anyone else going through similar problems to seek professional help, too: "So many people fall into a trap of desperation and depression. I've been there, and you can't just brush it off. There is light at the end of the tunnel."

Donny Osmond nearly died from appendicitis

At the age of 15, Donny Osmond started experiencing pains in his abdomen midway through a performance. Ever the professional, the youngster soldiered on for the rest of the show before being rushed to hospital where it was discovered that he had appendicitis.

Osmond subsequently had to undergo surgery to remove his appendix. But even before he'd had the chance to come round properly, the teen idol still had to play the fame game. Indeed, as he explained to MailOnline in 2007, a photographer from teenybopper magazine Tiger Beat had made themselves comfortable in the same room: "The photographer said, 'We need to get some pictures of you, Donny. Look like you're in pain.' I complied."

It was only several years down the line that Osmond realized how inappropriate this encounter had been: "I'd had a major operation, I almost lost my life ... At the time, I did what they needed me to do because I realised millions of girls were going to read Tiger Beat and I had to put on a good show. The harder you worked, the bigger star you became. At least that's what I thought."

Donny Osmond bombed on Broadway

Donny Osmond's attempts to reposition himself as a serious artiste in the early 1980s backfired spectacularly when the Broadway revival intended to kickstart a new chapter in his career closed after just a solitary performance.

Osmond had been cast as the lead in "Little Johnny Jones," a 1982 staging of the early 1800s musical which spawned hit showtunes such as "The Yankee Doodle Boy" and "Give My Regards to Broadway." The New York Times' "a listless, not to mention, listing farrago" was one of the kinder critical responses and the show was swiftly put out of its misery.

Understandably, the flop gave Osmond a crisis of confidence as he explained to Deseret News several decades later: "You really begin to wonder, 'Maybe I'm not any good.'" Luckily, the former teen pin-up was able to bounce back in the 1990s with a much more triumphant run in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" which lasted more than six years and 2,000 shows.

Donny Osmond had to undergo vocal cord surgery

Donny Osmond had to go under the knife again in 2015 thanks to a hemorrhagic polyp which formed on his right vocal cord. The former "Pyramid" host was treated at Massachusetts General Hospital by Dr. Steven M. Zeitels, the same medic who'd previously helped Adele, John Mayer and Sam Smith with similar problems.

In an interview with People following the procedure, Osmond explained how the lesion developed in the first place, and it wasn't from using his voice incorrectly: "This is a common misconception. Opera singers get this. It's just the fact that I use my instrument a lot. [Dr. Zeitels] showed me the documentary ["National Geographic: Incredible Human Machine"] he did with Steven Tyler, who had the same thing I did. The before and after pictures were almost exactly like mine."

Osmond took to Facebook beforehand to let his followers know that he'd be a little quieter than usual: "The recovery is going to be quite tough. Three weeks of absolutely no sound. Not even a whisper. I'm certainly going to have a lot of time on my hands to read the comments that you post. I can hardly wait to hear what you have to say."

Donny Osmond lost two nephews

Donny Osmond and the rest of his large family were left devastated in 2010 when nephew Michael Bryan, the son of sister Marie Osmond, committed suicide. Remarkably, the siblings returned to work soon after, resuming their variety show residency in Las Vegas.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight (via People) three months on, Donny revealed that performing was helping Marie come to terms with her loss: "Our dressing rooms are right next door to each other. I can hear her crying and that hurts. What's amazing is that just minutes after she's cried, she'll come out of the dressing room, perfect and ready to go. She has her moments. I admire her and I'm so glad she had "The Donny and Marie Show" and QVC and all these other things that kept her busy She's been able to pick herself up and survive."

Tragically, eight years later, Donny lost another nephew when Troy Osmond, the son of his brother Merrill, died in his sleep at his parents' house in Utah. "As a family our hearts are broken but we are comforted in the knowledge we will meet again," wrote a devastated Merrill on Facebook. "We will always remember him as the sensitive, caring and talented boy who brought so much happiness to all who knew him."

Donny Osmond was banned by brother from visiting him in hospital

In December 2018, Jimmy Osmond suffered a stroke while performing as Peter Pan in a panto at the Birmingham Hippodrome. But the "Long Haired Lover from Liverpool" singer decided against letting anyone other than his wife and children pay him a visit while he recuperated.

Brother Donny had taken to Twitter following the news of the health scare, posting "Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers on behalf of my little brother, Jimmy. I love you, brother." But along with siblings Tom, Alan, Wayne, Jay, Virl, Marie and Merrill, the former "Pyramid" host was banned from seeing Jimmy in person.

In an interview with Express (via MailOnline), Merrill explained, "He's hurting pretty bad. He's in the States but doctors won't even let the family in on it yet. The severity of it — none of us know. It's the way his family wants it. Jimmy has been through a lot and he just wants to be all by himself right now. We're all giving him space." Jimmy subsequently took a lengthy break from the world of showbusiness to fully recuperate.

Donny Osmond was written off as an embarrassment

Donny Osmond's star had fallen so much that by the late 1980s, it was considered to be career suicide even just to have a brief association with the former pin-up. Just ask Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen who was advised to take his name off a record he'd worked with the heartthrob on.

In a 2007 piece about his all-time favorite albums for The Guardian, Osmond revealed that he'd been such a big fan of Def Leppard's "Hysteria" that he asked Collen to contribute to his 1990 LP, "Eyes Don't Lie." The rocker duly obliged, and according to the "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" star, "did this fantastic solo." Unfortunately, he wasn't allowed to let anyone know who was responsible for this act of six-string wizardry.

Osmond explained, "A few weeks later I got a call from him to say that we had a problem. He couldn't have his name on the album because Def Leppard didn't want to be associated with me. It's a sad situation, but music is 80 percent image and perception." Despite the snubbing, the former heartthrob still counts "Hysteria" as a hugely influential record.