She was a little bit country, he was a little bit rock and roll, and they became one of the most successful brother/sister teams in entertainment history. Their wholesome mugs appeared regularly on television through the latter half of the 70s, and their wholesome music across the nation’s radio stations. Make no mistake, Donny and Marie made their mark, and then some.
Donny started out as the youngest member of The Osmonds, an already established quartet of young brothers from a large Utah family who first appeared on The Andy Williams Show in 1962. By 1974, The Osmonds were one of the most successful family pop groups ever. They garnered 18 gold records, including both The Osmonds hits and brother Donny’s solo releases. Their sister Marie sang with them on rare occasion and earned a few country hits of her own, including her first single, “Paper Roses.”
During a recording session for a Donny solo album, he found his maturing voice was keeping him from hitting the high notes on the cut “I’m Leaving It All Up To You.” Marie just happened to be in the studio, and the producer asked her to do the part instead. The song was released as a duet, went to #4, and the duo hit the charts a second and third time with the top 10 hits “Morning Side of the Mountain” and “Make the World Go Away.”
When Donny and Marie hosted The Mike Douglas Show for a week in 1975, ABC executive Fred Silverman was impressed enough to develop their own variety show, The Donny and Marie Show. Originally produced by Sid and Marty Krofft, it debuted in January of 1976 and starred the siblings doing elaborately staged musical numbers, as well as performing comedy skits with different guest stars. The public loved it, and it remained on air for four years. Donny and Marie also starred in their only film, Goin’ Coconuts, during that time and made a number of annual Christmas specials starring the entire extended Osmond family.
The variety show was cancelled in 1980, but Donny and Marie have kept busy since with other endeavors. Marie continues to release country music hits such as “Meet Me In Montana.” and regularly appears on television and the Broadway stage. Donny has done the same, even winning the Dancing with the Stars competition in 2009. He made a brief return to pop music charts in 1989 with the release of the hit song, “Soldier of Love.”
In 1998, the pair served as hosts for the short-lived talk-show, Donny and Marie, and more recently, continue to headline a very popular show at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. It’s a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll and a whole lotta fun for their nostalgic fans, who still represent in respectable numbers.
Were you a fan of Donny and Marie back in the day? Do you remember tuning into their variety show each week? How about the Christmas specials? Share all those Donny and Marie memories with us in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this formidable duo.