February 03, 2024



(ABC, September 9-December 23, 1972)
Rakin/Bass Productions, Halas and Batchelor



Donny Osmond – Himself
Jimmy Osmond – Himself
Alan Osmond – Himself
Wayne Osmond – Himself
Jay Osmond – Himself
Merrill Osmond – Himself
Paul Frees – Fuji, Hortense Bird, various
Iris Rainer – Various



            The Osmonds were an American family musical group that were very popular in the 1970s. George Virl Osmond Sr. and Olive Osmond resided on a farm in Ogden, Utah, and were musicians within their church. They had nine children: Virl, Tom, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie and Jimmy.

            In 1958, Alan (9), Wayne (7), Merril (5) and Jay (3) began singing as a barbershop quartet around the town and during church services as a way to earn money for hearing aids for their brothers Virl and Tom, both born with severe hearing impairments, and to finance future church missions. Their talent and stage presence encouraged their father to take them to an amateur barbershop singing competition in California. While there, the family took a trip to Disneyland where the Osmonds performed with the park’s own barbershop quartet, The Dapper Dans. Having been seen by Tommy Walker, Director of Entertainment and Customer Relations, they were hired to perform at the park the following summer. It also landed them minor roles in the Kurt Russell television series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters and an appearance during a segment of the “Disneyland After Dark” episode of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, where Walt Disney himself took viewers around Disneyland at night and showed off the nighttime entertainment; complete with numerous entertainment guest stars.

            When singer Andy Williams’ father Jay saw them at the park, he encouraged his son to book the Osmonds on his show, The Andy Williams Show. The Osmond Brothers became regulars on it from 1962-67, earning the nickname “one-take Osmonds” amongst the staff due to their professionalism and constant rehearsing. Donny would join the group in 1963, with Marie and Jimmy making appearances later on and Jimmy eventually joining in 1967 (Marie would be the last to join up a few years after in 1973). When the show ended in 1967, the Osmond Brothers were signed to The Jerry Lewis Show until it was cancelled in 1969; at which point they rejoined The Andy Williams Show for its second run.

Osmonds LP sleeve featuring The Osmond Brothers and Donny in the middle.

            Deciding they wanted to get away from variety shows and perform as a rock and roll band, The Osmond Brothers recorded and released their first single, “Flower Music” with the B-side “I Can’t Stop”, in 1967 for UNI Records. Record producer Mike Curb saw the Osmonds perform and recognized their talent. He signed them to MGM Records and paired them with producer Rick Hall. Now known as The Osmonds, they released their first hit single, “One Bad Apple” written by George Jackson, in November of 1970, along with their first MGM album, Osmonds. It hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for five weeks in early 1971. The album itself hit #14 on the Billboard Top Lps chart and was certified gold later that year. Their second album, Homemade, was recorded in just 6 days and released in August of 1971; with the single “Double Lovin’” peaking at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was certified gold in early 1972.

Osmonds Greatest Hits album featuring Jimmy with the group.

            With their third MGM album, Phase III in 1972, the Osmonds began writing and performing their own music, gravitating towards a rock sound. Their fourth album, Crazy Horses, went even harder on the rock; going over into heavy metal territory. They wrote all the songs, played all the instruments, and sang all the vocals. Merrill and Donny were the co-lead vocalists—with Donny mostly singing the chorus of the songs—until Donny’s voice began to change, forcing him to drop back to largely instrumental contributions. The band compensated by progressively lowering the key until his voice finished changing. While still working with his brothers, Donny had also engaged on a solo career; releasing his own albums alongside the group’s. Jimmy would follow suit with his own solo work beginning in 1972.

Rankin/Bass' caricatures of The Osmonds: Jimmy, Donny, Jay, Wayne, Merrill and Alan.

            Rankin/Bass Productions partnered with MGM to bring the Osmonds to Saturday mornings for ABC; similarly to how they had The Jackson Five the year prior. In fact, both cartoons were very much identical in their structure and presentation. The Osmonds would follow the brothers as they embarked on a world tour after winning a contest to become musical goodwill ambassadors. They traveled on a provided psychedelic jet plane piloted by Alan, accompanied by their anthropomorphic dog, Fuji (Paul Frees in 4th wall-breaking internal monologues, using a Japanese accent). Unlike The Jackson 5ive where a touring schedule kept the Jacksons too busy to participate in the show, the Osmonds provided all of their own voices; with Frees and Iris Rainer doing all the rest. Along with the interesting characters they met in each new location, trouble usually followed the brothers due to Jimmy’s immaturity and impetuousness and Donny’s tendency to be girl-crazy. One girl Donny wasn’t crazy about was his self-proclaimed #1 fan: Hortense Bird (Frees), an old lady with missing teeth who decided to follow the Osmonds on their tour.

Dancing through the streets.

            The Osmonds debuted on ABC on September 9, 1972, airing right after The Jackson 5ive. The series was a showcase for the music of the Osmond brothers, with two songs being worked into every episode accompanied by a music-video like sequence. All of the songs--with the exception of “Getcha Goin’ My Way”, which wouldn’t be released until 2012--were taken from the albums Osmonds, Homemade, Phase III and Crazy Horses; the Donny solo albums The Donny Osmond Album, To You with Love, Donny, Portrait of Donny and Too Young; and the Jimmy solo album Killer Joe. “One Bad Apple” was used as the series’ theme, with episode titles appearing at the end of the intro in an apple shape. Maury Laws provided the rest of the music, and Curb served as an executive producer. The show was written by Rainer, Earle Doud, William J. Keenan, Claire Merrill and Romeo Muller, and animated by Halas and Batchelor. This was the second—and last—series to feature Rankin/Bass’ new and improved laugh track; which had better modulated laughs than their previous one and benefitted from better timing by the sound engineers. It only ran a single season of new episodes, with a second season comprised entirely of reruns on Sunday mornings. Several episodes would be released to VHS in the early 1990s by The ABM Group, and Donny would release a DVD compilation of 5 episodes through his website in 2007. While the complete series has never been released, episodes have been uploaded to YouTube by fan accounts.

            The Osmonds’ popularity began to decline following the release of their ambitious 1973 album, The Plan, which carried a strong religious message and a progressive rock sound. Within three years, the band put out music in a variety of genres including bubblegum pop, hard rock and easy listening, giving them an inconsistent sound and took them away from the pop music that made them popular in the first place. Not helping matters was Donny’s voice change taking away their younger fans and his tendency to cover oldies on his solo albums. Alan, Wayne and Merrill had all gotten married between 1973 and 1974, which led to the band reducing their touring schedules to spend more time with their families. Finally, the Osmond brand had gotten diluted with Donny, Marie and Jimmy emerging as solo artists, and Donny and Marie recording duets together. By 1976, album sales were slumping and The Osmonds had only one last Top 40 hit with “The Proud One”, a cover of a Frankie Valli minor hit.

Donny & Marie billboard during their residency at the Flamingo.

            Donny returned to television with Marie for The Donny & Marie Show, with their siblings working in supporting roles. After its cancellation in 1979 and with the family in debt, the Osmonds switched from MGM successor Polydor to Mercury Records and released the unsuccessful album Steppin’ Out. An attempt was made to get Marie back on TV with a sitcom pilot that never aired and a variety show that only ran 7 episodes. Marie carved out a successful career singing country music and starring in the Broadway revivals of The King and I and The Sound of Music. She starred in the short-lived sitcom Maybe This Time and hosted the talk show Donny & Marie with Donny. Donny returned to pop music in 1989, sang “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” for Disney’s Mulan, starred as Gaston in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast, and toured as the title role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Donny also had a turn as a game show host and won the 9th season of Dancing with the Stars. In 2008, Donny and Marie had a residency at the Flamingo Las Vegas that was originally supposed to run for 6 months, but kept being extended until it finally ended in 2019 after 11 years. Donny went on to have a solo residency at Harrah’s Las Vegas while Marie continues to tour and do commercials.

The Osmonds all together for Marie's 60th birthday.

            Alan, Wayne, Merril and Jay returned to The Osmond Brothers to earn money for their debts. A handful of their songs just missed breaking the top 40, and their record sales were reduced by their unwillingness to tour and desire to only promote their music through music videos, but they were able to pay off their debts by 1983. They continued to perform with various line-ups, including their children, as well as independently with other performers. Alan retired from the group in 2007 and Wayne in 2012 after a stroke left him unable to play guitar; although they played one more performance with them in 2018 and again in 2019 for Marie’s 60th birthday. Merril planned to retire in 2022, but continued on for a limited run in 2024. Jay continues to perform with Alan’s son, Nathan, and they plan to begin a residency in Branson, Missouri in October of 2024. Jimmy suffered a second stroke in 2018 and had dropped out of showbusiness to recover, with Merril hoping he’d eventually return to the group.


“And Away They Go” (9/9/72) – The Osmonds have a chance to audition for a world tour, but Jimmy and Fuji ruin their chances.
Songs: “One Bad Apple” & “Go Away Little Girl
“China” (9/16/72) – While Jimmy and Fuji are fighting, the brothers must play a ping pong game for America against China.
Songs: Don’t Panic” & “Sweet and Innocent
“Jimmy and James in London” (9/30/72) – In London, Jimmy is mistaken for a prince that he resembles.
Songs: In the Rest of My Life” & “Why
“Sir Donald of Bavaria” (9/30/72) – In Bavaria, Donny dreams that he, Jimmy and Fuji are sent back to Medieval times.
“Paris” (10/7/72) – The brothers must save a restaurant from closing wile a government minister conspires to make them lose a contest to a local band.
Songs: Promise Me” & “Shuckin’ and Jivin’
“Monte Carlo” (10/14/72) – While in Monte Carlo, Jimmy makes a hit film while Donny falls for the wrong girl.
Songs: Wake Up Little Susie” & “Getcha Goin’ My Way*”
*Unreleased until 2012.
“Denmark” (10/21/72) – Donny must stop some undersea bullies in order to get a sea witch’s spell reversed and change Jimmy’s fin back to legs.
Songs: Love Me” & “Hold Her Tight
“India” (10/28/72) – Jimmy befriends a genie in India.
Songs: And You Love Me” & “Hey Girl
“The Yukon” (11/4/72) – Jimmy accidentally sends the brothers to the Yukon.
Songs: All I Have to Do Is Dream” & “My Drum
“The Black Forest” (11/11/72) – A whole town may sleep forever if the brothers can’t fix a special clock.
“Italy” (11/18/72) – A girl dates Donny as a ploy to get the valuable coin Jimmy found.
“Australia” (11/23/72) – Jimmy gets a new admirer: a kangaroo.
Songs: It’s You Babe” & “Lonely Boy
“Transylvania” (11/25/72) – The Osmonds are invited to a birthday party held by a vampire.
Songs: Killer Joe” & “We All Fall Down
“Rio” (12/2/72) – Jimmy ends up getting lost during a costume contest in Rio.
Songs: Prety Blue Eyes” & “Hey Mr. Taxi
“Don Osmondo in Spain” (12/9/72) – Donny takes up bullfighting in order to impress a girl.
Songs: Puppy Love” & “Yo-Yo
“Luck of the Osmonds” (12/16/72) – Jimmy gets mistaken for a leprechaun in Ireland.
“Coming Home to Utah” (12/23/72) – The brothers return to Utah to a fairly lackluster homecoming.
Songs: Utah” & “Too Young

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