The Tragic Story Of The Osmond Family Will Break Your Heart

The following article includes allegations of sexual assault.

What's better than a family band? Though there have been many examples of keeping music in the family over the decades, one of the most beloved groups happens to be The Osmonds. This tight-knit clan from Ogden, Utah is actually made up of nine children total — eight sons and one daughter. They made their first foray into music as a quartet in the '60s, made up of Alan Osmond, Wayne Osmond, Merrill Osmond, and Jay Osmond and known as the Osmond Brothers. They performed at Disneyland and garnered acclaim, and by 1962 they made their first television appearance on "The Andy Williams Show." The next addition to the group was younger brother Donny Osmond, who also made his debut on "The Andy Williams Show" at the tender age of five, with brother Jimmy Osmond trailing shortly behind. By the '70s, they officially added the younger siblings and dropped Brothers from their name, deciding to go simply as The Osmonds.

Despite the brothers seemingly fairy-tale like upbringing in the spotlight, their lives were marred with a shocking amount of tragedy. From two brothers born deaf that were never able to listen to their siblings' music to struggles with their demanding father and shocking deaths, we're rounding up all the heartbreaking events that took place within the Osmond family over the years.

The eldest Osmond brothers were born deaf

Though the world is familiar with seven of George Osmond and Olive Osmond's children, many don't know there are two older brothers who never took the spotlight. The couple's first two sons, Virl and Tom, were both born deaf, which resulted in doctors actually advising them to not have any more children. Fortunately the Osmond parents didn't take that advice to heart and went on to have seven more children. Despite the health challenges, it was actually Virl and Tom who became the impetus for their younger siblings to take their singing more seriously. According to the Deseret News, George and Olive were often approached by members of their church complimenting their younger sons' singing, which led them to wonder if they could parlay their talents into a way for purchasing the older boys' hearing aids. That led the couple to take their singing more seriously, which led to a fateful Disneyland performance that got them noticed. 

Brother Donny Osmond, who would join the band of brothers next and have a successful solo career, opened up about his older brothers' challenges to ABILITY Magazine, revealing, "[My parents] decided they were not going to treat my brothers differently ... My brothers talk and communicate verbally. They also sign and do have that down quite well ... We used sign language when we were performing together as a group." Donny also noted that it didn't stop them from performing, either, as Donny shared, "I remember we opened one show with Phyllis Diller and they came out and played saxophone with us."

They had a tumultuous relationship with their father

Finding success in the music industry at a very young age isn't easy. Most people credit the Osmonds rise to fame with father George Osmond's strict discipline. Prior to managing his children, George had already been a very hard worker, often working multiple gigs in fields ranging from real estate to insurance sales. He brought his hard-working ethics to the entertainment world, with the Deseret News revealing that on the set of "The Andy Williams Show," where the boys first debuted and continuously appeared, the family was referred to as "One Take Osmonds" because of their perfect nature. 

Back in 2001, Donny Osmond opened up to The Guardian about their upbringing, with the outlet reporting that George had been "a strict disciplinarian who assigned each child a number for family head counts." They also noted he once beat Donny for complaining, about which the singer shared,  "I got over that quickly and realised 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 ... He disciplined us the best way he possibly could." In 2017, he shared another story about his father with The Guardian regarding discouraging his marriage, revealing, "I began secretly dating Debbie Glenn. 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.'" 

Donny Osmond was bullied by the press at a young age

Aside from being scrutinized by his father, George Osmond, Donny Osmond was not treated kindly by the press during his teen idol days. After making a name for himself singing alongside his brothers as The Osmonds, he got out of their shadow and became a solo sensation in the early '70s with hits like 1971's "Go Away Little Girl." Despite receiving adoration from teens everywhere, music critics weren't quite as kind. He reminisced about his meteoric rise to fame with The Mirror in 2016, sharing, "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."

He also faced a lot of criticism for his squeaky clean Mormon upbringing, which meant no drinking, drugs, or many other elements of a typical rock and roll lifestyle. On that, Donny feels justified nowadays, telling the outlet, "I've been made fun of my entire life about things like family, my health code and moral code. And it's like: 'In your face everybody, I'm the last one laughing. I'm the last one standing.'"

Merrill Osmond was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had an eating disorder

As the fifth born son of Olive Osmond and George Osmond, Merrill Osmond was one of the founding members of the Osmond Brothers before they became the Osmonds. He grew up in the spotlight, and was the group's first lead singer. Despite being anointed that important role, in a very candid interview with The Yorkshire Post in 2022 Merrill explained that it wasn't in his nature, "I was always a nervous little boy. I was the one who struggled a lot." Those struggles continued into his adolescence, as he revealed, "For me I was the least confident of the brothers. Everyone knew I struggled with my weight ... I had an eating disorder. I starved myself." 

He told the outlet that he once attempted suicide, stating, "I was really suffering with depression and anxiety even though we had number one records." A few years earlier in 2019, he opened up about that incident further to The Mirror, revealing, "It was a spur of the moment thing and I climbed up to the top of a ­mountain near my home in Utah ... The only thing that stopped me taking my life was a miraculous wind that came out of nowhere and almost blew me over. I realized there was ­something going on that was bigger than me and it startled me to the point where I put the knife down and decided I was going to face my feelings head on." During that same interview, Merrill shared that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 30.

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who does, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Marie Osmond was sexually assaulted

Marie Osmond published a memoir in 2008, titled "Behind the Smile: My Journey Out of Postpartum Depression." Within the pages there was a shocking revelation that she had been a victim of abuse, a topic she addressed during a stop on "Larry King Live." She remained tight-lipped when interviewer King asked if she suffered abuse at the hand of multiple people, noting, "You know, the details I would rather keep to the past." Of the claims, Osmond did reveal, "I think the most important thing is that the statement that, you know, I was definitely abused, and it was definitely sexual. And you know, those types of things to go through, you think you are over them, but it is the long-term effects of those types of things that you don't even see. You thinking gets skewed, and I think that is what happened to me, is that is my boundaries were lost."

She'd later open up further on "The Talk" in 2019, sharing, "When I was about eight or nine, I actually thought I was gay. The reason is because I had been sexually abused to the point that men made me sick. I didn't trust them, I didn't like them. I was looking at women and I thought 'why am I looking at women? I must be gay." Osmond added it was her family that made her think differently, sharing, "Why did God give me all these great brothers and why did he give me this amazing father? And truly, that changed my opinion of men" (via Page Six).

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Donny Osmond once almost lost an eye to fans

Donny Osmond learned exactly what it meant to be a teen heartthrob over the years ... both the perks and downfalls. Often surrounded by hundreds of adoring fans, Osmond reminisced about a time where it wasn't so lovely to Metro in 2023, revealing that he almost lost an eye to a wild fan at one point in his career. The outlet asked what his most wild fan encounter had been, to which Osmond shared that it took place in Manchester, England. "I was walking into this hotel and all these fans started rushing towards me," he said. "And one girl was just making a beeline." The girl was carrying an autograph book and a pen, and when she rushed Osmond for a hug, "the pen came around" and struck him in the eye. "Almost took my eye out," he said.

Aside from the pen incident, that same fan almost blinded him in the other eye with a flashbulb. Osmond explained, "I still have a mark in my eye from where the flashbulb went off – it kind of burnt the retina a little bit. He added, "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."

Marie Osmond also had an eating disorder

Growing up in the spotlight wasn't all charmed for Marie Osmond. The star opened up to Page Six in 2023 about an occasion on the set of her hit show "Donny & Marie" with brother Donny Osmond where a producer belittled her over her weight. Marie shed more light on the incident, revealing, "It was on that lot that I was taken out to the back by some head of the studio — and I'm like 5′ 5″ and about 103 pounds — and he basically said, 'You're an embarrassment to your family. You're fat.'" The harsh words led Marie to start a strict diet that saw her eventually weigh "like 92 pounds." She told the outlet that it was only when she caught a glimpse of her shocking reflection that she realized what she was doing was dangerous, sharing, "I stood up and realized that girl was me. And it was just one of those big 'AHA' (moments), that 'Oh, body dysmorphia is a real thing.'" 

Despite that incident, Marie's weight issues continued throughout her life, but most recently found success with a Nutrisystem program called Complete 55. She shared what it was about the program that felt different with Fox News, noting, "They taught me how to keep off the weight. That's the most amazing thing that's ever happened in my life. I mean, I'm moving on 13 years of keeping my weight at a consistent rate. That's ridiculous. That's never happened to me."

Both Alan Osmond and his son have multiple sclerosis

In 1987, Alan Osmond was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, specifically an unusual form called primary-progressive MS, with the first symptom being a feeling like his right side "went out" (Amo Mama via CT Style). Since receiving his diagnosis, Alan has not let it keep him down, telling the The Daily Universe, "I just determined when I got it, 'Hey I may have MS, but MS does not have me.'" A close friend told the same outlet, "MS is debilitating. I've never heard him complain about it. He'll joke about it sometimes, but he doesn't complain about it." And his wife Suzanne Osmond echoed that sentiment, sharing, "He doesn't ever use it as an excuse." 

Sadly, Alan's son David Osmond inherited the same disease, and had first hand knowledge after witnessing his father's struggle. "I remember as a kid when my dad told us that he had something called MS. We saw him start to decline physically," David told Yahoo in 2019. David was diagnosed at age 26, and recounted his first symptoms with the outlet, sharing, "I took my shoes off and I turned to my girlfriend. I said, 'My feet feel like they're being run over by a steamroller.' Within a few weeks, that crushing feeling progressed up my legs. It was all the way up to my chest within a few months."

Wayne Osmond was diagnosed with a brain tumor

Wayne Osmond received his cancer diagnosis while touring with his brothers in 1994. The musician reflected on the experience to Coping Magazine in 2004, sharing, "One day when I was working in Branson, I noticed I couldn't play my saxophone anymore because my head would start throbbing. And my knees would fall out from under me when I was on stage. This all began happening within a week." While on break from the tour, Osmond headed home and scheduled an appointment with his doctor, who sent him to a specialist. Osmond eventually ended up with a scary answer, "I was diagnosed with ependymoma – a childhood cancer that is very fatal for kids. It was located up behind my cerebellum. For where it was it was pretty big – it was an inch around and two inches long."

A 17-hour surgery followed, after which doctors got very candid with Osmond. He shared that one told him, "'When you first came here and we looked at your MRI, we started calling you Dead Man Walking. But now we are going to start calling you the Miracle Baby; your cancer is gone.'" After the scare, Osmond eventually returned to the stage, telling the outlet, "I went back to performing six months after I was diagnosed. I wore my cowboy hat on stage since all of my hair had fallen out from radiation. But after a while it grew back."

Jimmy Osmond had a stroke during a performance

Youngest Osmond family member Jimmy Osmond gave loved ones and fans a fright in 2018. While performing in a stage performance of "Peter Pan" in Birmingham, England, during which he was playing Captain Hook, Osmond suffered from a stroke. Though he was able to finish the show, BBC News reported, "On the evening of Thursday 27 December, after pushing through the evening's performance of Peter Pan at Birmingham Hippodrome, Jimmy Osmond was driven straight to hospital and diagnosed with a stroke." 

The stroke actually wasn't Osmond's first, but his second in two decades. He suffered one back in 2004, and told Parade magazine at the time, "A blood clot 'popped' in my head — not due to high blood pressure or high cholesterol. I went on stage and felt that 'pop' and then lost my vision, although I could see a little 'pin' spot. I thought it was a migraine and amazingly, I drove home." He explained that it took years to recover after surgery, revealing, "After a diagnosis by an echocardiogram, I had the defect surgically repaired at the University of Utah. I did feel the aftereffects for 10 years, and would sometimes get a numb feeling."

Marie Osmond's son died by suicide

In 2010, Marie Osmond suffered a devastating loss when one of her eight children passed away. Son Michael Blosil died by suicide, leaping to his death, that February, according to Entertainment Tonight (via People). The outlet reported that Blosil left a note stating that he battled severe depression. At the time, Osmond put out a statement that read, "My family and I are devastated and in deep shock by the tragic loss of our dear Michael and ask that everyone respect our privacy during this difficult time."

Later that year, Osmond appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to discuss the tragedy, telling host Winfrey, "When I heard him say to me, I have no friends, it brought back when I went through depression, because you really feel so alone. I'm not a depressed person, but I understand that place, that darkness ... I told him, I said, 'Mike, I'm gonna be there Monday and it's gonna be OK.' But depression doesn't wait 'til Monday." She'd again discuss the loss almost ten years later, telling "CBS Sunday Morning," "You know, I don't think you're ever through it. I think God gives you respites, and then all of a sudden it'll hit you like the day it did. The ripple effect is so huge, what you leave behind" (via People).

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat

Jay Osmond also had a stroke

Like his younger brother Jimmy Osmond, Jay Osmond also suffered from a stroke. Jay's took place in 2020, and the Osmonds drummer took to Facebook (via Fox News) to share the news, writing, "I didn't want to alarm anyone so I hadn't said this earlier. A couple of months ago, I came really close to a stroke. BP over 200. They said I had a mini stroke." Aside from discussing his ailment, he also revealed the cause, sharing, "This was brought on by stresses I was under. I went on a couple of medications and have been trying to keep calm. Because of some stresses (non-work related) my BP has been a little high again." 

Despite the health battle, Jay shared the silver lining — his second wife, Karen Randall, whom he married in 2014. He told his Facebook followers, "My angel Karina has been helping me deal with it." Sadly, this wouldn't be the only tragedy to befall Jay and his wife. 

Jay Osmond's family suffered a tragic loss

Aside from Jay Osmond's health issues, he had a tragedy befall his family in September 2014. The same year he married his second wife, Karen Randall, Randall suffered the tragic loss of her granddaughter, London Mortensen. The little girl was just 7-years old at the time. The National Enquirer reported that she was killed by a moving trailer door that fell and crushed her while at her home in Arizona.The outlet reported that Osmond took to Twitter to make a statement, writing, "Our hearts are heavy with the loss of (wife) Karen's granddaughter. How sad it is to lose someone so sweet and so young."

Making things even more tragic, a source shared with The National Enquirer that her family had been in the middle of a move to Utah so they could be closer to family when the tragedy struck.