Donny Osmond, 65, has been in the public eye since he was five years old, first as a member of the family pop band, The Osmonds and later as a solo artist. Here he shares his work ethic and attitude in his career and his life.
Thanks to performances on TV’s Dancing with the Stars and The Masked Singer – as well as starring stage roles in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Beauty and the Beast – Donnie Osmond has been rediscovered by new generations. The perennial pop star tells us why he rarely goes out of fashion.
Q: You’ve been performing all your life. How do you keep it fresh at your Harrah’s residency in Las Vegas?
DONNY: I have a work ethic that my dad instilled in me that I’m grateful for. Every time I step on the stage, I tell myself: This is the last show so give it your best. I always put 110% on stage because I want the audience to leave receiving more than they expected. That’s the philosophy that I live by. I thought I’d be slowing down at my age right now – but I’ve never worked harder in my life and I’ve never enjoyed it more.
Q: Your previous 11-year Vegas residency with sister Marie left you paralyzed after the final performance in 2019. How did you recover?
DONNY: That’s just one of the hazards of being in show business because it’s a tough – especially the way I do my shows. It’s very physical and demanding and you’re gonna get hurt. Yes, I’m gonna get hurt. Yes, I’ve had surgeries. I’ve had vocal surgery and I’ve had broken bones, you name it. Like when I won Dancing with the Stars, I wound up with a fractured rib, a broken toe and a fused neck.
Q: Did you ever have a Plan B?
DONNY: No because when you start singing professionally at five years old – that’s all you know. So when I got to be 17 or 18 when you start to think: What am I going to do in my life? — I’d already had a long career! So I never had a Plan B because Plan A was always working – although there was one time where Plan A wasn’t working – like in 1988.
That was when I really tried hard to get back in the music charts and nothing was working. Nothing. Until Peter Gabriel got involved and I ended up having a hit single with Soldier of Love. It became the number one requested record in New York City – but nobody knew it was me! Which was good because my name wasn’t getting in the way; the music spoke for itself.
Q: You look amazing. What’s your health routine?
DONNY: The way I work on stage is my workout regimen. I find it difficult to go to the gym when I work so hard on stage. Also I’m a vegan. Well actually I lied – I’m a che-gan! I cheat! I do like cheese.
But I don’t eat too much. Moderation in everything is what I say. A good steak every once in a while won’t kill you. But my wife and I have cut out sugar – apart from sugar you’re going to eat naturally in fruit etc. But no soda.I do go on walks and I really watch what I eat. Its all common sense – lots of vegetables and plenty of hydration.
When I’m not performing, exercise is very important. In the mid 60s, you can’t really go to the gym and push the weights like you did when you were 20. I tell everyone my age: Go on a good walk with your loved one and hold hands, talk and walk briskly. Break out a sweat if you can, push your body to where it’s a little uncomfortable because, if you can push it, then you’re doing some good.
Q: What’s the secret to your happy 45-year-marriage to wife Debbie?
DONNY: The funny lie I always tell people is – If Debbie and I ever have an argument, she’s always right. Happy wife, happy life. I’m only half joking about my wife always being right in an argument because, at the end of the day, sometimes those little spats are when egos get in the way: I have to win? No you don’t have to win! You just have to be a wonderful spouse. I was very lucky with Debbie, very blessed, but we still have to work at it.
Q: What’s your secret to aging with attitude?
DONNY: Make someone laugh, and tell a joke! – and treat people the way you want to be treated. Kindness has never been ridiculed. You can’t be Pollyannish and say: the world is a beautiful place and everybody’s on rainbows or whatever. You can be a realist, and still also be kind to people.
People talk about Blue Zones for longevity – but I think laughter plays a big role too. So, yes, life is tough. You’ve had some difficult times, whether you’ve gone through a divorce or you’ve had health issues – but start loving life because it has been proven that if you have an optimistic attitude, you’re more likely to stay healthy.
That’s what Debbie and I try to do. Yes, we get knocked down. Yes, we turn on the news and it’s just doom and gloom. But sometimes we shut it off and we just laugh and enjoy each other’s company. There’s a lot to that philosophy of just enjoying your life.
All Donny’s upcoming dates can be found at: Donny.com
Gill Pringle began her career as a rock columnist for popular British newspapers, traveling the world with Madonna, U2 and Michael Jackson. Moving to Los Angeles 27 years ago, she interviews film and TV personalities for prestigious UK outlets, The Independent, The i-paper and The Sunday Times – and, of course, Senior Planet. A member of Critics Choice Association, BAFTA and AWFJ, she wrote the screenplay for 2016 Netflix family film, The 3 Tails Movie: A Mermaid Adventure. An award-winning writer, in 2021 she was honored by the Los Angeles Press Club with 1st prize at the NAEJ Awards.
Photo credit of Donny Osmond: Lee Cherry