An Osmond Offers Up a Bit of Home

JULIE LASKY NY Times 09/18/13

Those who remember Donny Osmond singing “You Are My Sunshine” on the Andy Williams show in 1963 have probably become so inured to life’s little curve balls that they won’t be surprised to learn that the popular entertainer, now 55 and a grandfather several times over, is about to release a housewares collection with his wife, Debbie. Everyone else, take a moment to compose yourself.

Donny Osmond Home will kick off in January with 1,000 items, including furniture, lights, rugs, bedding, dinnerware, bath accessories and home-improvement tools. Some of the goods will be available through online retailers later this year; a list will be posted on donnyosmond.com starting on Sept. 24.

Mr. Osmond discussed his new business from Las Vegas, where he and his sister, Marie, have been performing a long-running nightclub act at the Flamingo Hotel. This interview was edited and condensed.

Q. Last month, you blogged about a recent operation. How are you?

A. I knew that would be the first question. It’s a real bummer, let’s put it that way. As Marie said on stage, I broke my butt. I tore the tendon from the gluteus medius muscle right off the bone as I was dancing, but I finished the show in that condition.

I imagine you’ve found housewares easier on the muscles, but still I wonder what made you veer into design.

This is something that is more organic than one would imagine. For 35 years now, Debbie and I have been married and she’s always created this wonderful atmosphere at home for me, because my world, as you can imagine, is crazy, with the touring and traveling. Now that we’re getting older, it’s something she and I can do for the rest of our lives together. Because you know the term “family” is pretty synonymous with the term “Osmond.”

How would you describe the collection?

I wish Debbie was on the phone, too. There’s going to be — I’m leaning these different types of phraseology because it’s such a new business to me — but it’s more of a transitional style, if that makes any sense. It’s kind of eclectic with a kind of a modern flair. The same way as I’ve handled my career for 50 years, you have to learn to adapt and change. We’re told by our marketing team that honeycomb and the color gray are trending right now, so Debbie and I these last couple of days have sat with our design team, through the computer. We approved certain styles, and it’s perfectly in line with what she and I like.

I caught glimpses of your Utah home in an interview you did some years ago with Kathie Lee Gifford. It seemed comfortable and traditional. Would you say that sums up the style of Donny Osmond Home?

Keep in mind that’s the only time we’ve ever opened up our home for an interview, and probably the last. We maintain that our home is very private, even though we’re opening up our style. I think a very comfortable, very homey atmosphere is a nice guideline. But there might be something a little more elegant or a little more transitional. It really depends on the taste of the buyers.

Having partnered for many decades with your sister, what is it like to work with your wife? Is this your first partnership?

Yes, it’s the first. No! For 35 years she’s been my partner.

What does each of you bring to the table?

I bring the support. She’s got the eye for this. What’s really interesting, over the years our tastes have actually become one. I remember when we first got married in 1978, I was more modern and she was more traditional. But in 1978 the styles were so different, so you’re constantly evolving. That’s what we want to bring to the public: all different kinds of things available at different prices. A lot of people can afford these things.

Each phase in your career has brought a different relationship to your audience. Who do you hope to connect to with this collection?

Fantastic question. Let me tell you a story: I look out at the audience every night in Vegas. Right after I won “Dancing With the Stars,” there was a little 10-year-old kid who had watched every week. He was dressed in this suit and he had a tie on and he was with his mom and dad. He was watching me intently through the entire show. Afterward we did a meet-and-greet. I saw this little kid in line, and the closer he got the more excited he got. He came up and shook my hand. He said, “Mr. Osmond, I didn’t know you could sing, too.”

Here’s another little story: Last year, I had a meeting over at one of the hotels here in Vegas. As I was coming up to give them my car in the parking structure, I heard the song I did for the Disney movie “Mulan.” I followed the sound and came to a van, and all these U.C.L.A. students were in there, half-asleep because they were up all night either gambling or partying. They were on their way back to L.A. I knocked on the window, and the driver rolled down the window and turned the music down. He said, “Can I help you?” I said, “That song you’re listening to. That’s me.” He said: “Are you Donny Osmond? This is our theme song when we have tests and exams.” It starts out, “Let’s get down to business.”

So now I’ve got fans that are 10-year-olds, college students, parents and grandparents. So here’s the answer to your question: I don’t know. How do you appeal to that wide a demographic? You’ve got to be eclectic. You’ve got to be broad-based.

You’re probably short on time, but I have another story.

Do please tell it.

Last night at the meet-and-greet, this lady comes up to me and she says, “My 5-year-old daughter listens to you all the time.” I said, “Oh, that’s so sweet.” She said, “She keeps asking for ‘Anaconda, Anaconda.’ And we finally realized she was asking for “and they called it … puppy love.” Now I’ve got a 5-year-old fan.

What was your home like growing up?

Which hotel would you really like to refer to? I was always on the road. But seriously, my home, when we did come home from a tour, was a big Spanish house in San Fernando Valley, Calif. It wasn’t elegant, it wasn’t a mansion. We didn’t drive fancy cars. That’s one thing my father and mother taught us: Live within your means. If you have means, don’t flaunt it.

In your book “Life Is Just What You Make It,” you said that at a low career point you thought of tossing it all in and starting a home security business. Why home security?

Yeah, it was 1988 and just before “Soldier of Love” hit in 1989, and I had tried so hard to get back out on the charts and couldn’t do it, even with Peter Gabriel’s help. The reason I liked home security is because I was always interested in electronics. I don’t think it had anything to do with my own security. I’m just an electronics geek. I had pretty much lost everything in the early 1980s and I had to rebuild. In 1988, I had three children and I thought, “How am I going to support a family?” That was an alternative, and thank goodness it didn’t go that way.

If you could relive any decade of your life, which would it be?

Well, I’ve got to be honest. The ’70s were amazing, even through the purple socks and the “Puppy Love.” Yeah, I enjoyed it but I wished I enjoyed it a little bit more. I’m reading a great book called “The Power of Now.” I’m learning how to enjoy the moment.

But I have to be honest: I’m enjoying this moment more than any in my life because I really don’t have to prove anything anymore. I’m never going to be in coasting mode. I’m always going to be climbing some kind of mountain. But it’s such an enjoyable time in my life with my wife and kids and grandbabies. And we’re trying to open up that joy we’ve had in our home and make it accessible to other people. That’s the message: Create an atmosphere of love and peace and refuel at home. JULIE LASKY

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One Response to “An Osmond Offers Up a Bit of Home”

  1. Vacation N Vegas Says:

    Hey Steveleeds,
    Thanks for that, Is it not clear who the coolest party is? Would Mitt offer up a Donnie and Marie fundraiser to the people of New York and Jersey?
    Cheerio
    Lonnie Gibson

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