1 9 7 6 – 1 9 7 9 (USA)
Sid and Marty Krofft (of H.R. Pufnstuf fame) originally produced this teenage variety hour from everybody’s favourite Mormon brother and sister act.
16-year-old Marie Osmond was a little bit country – her 18-year-old brother Donny was a (very) little bit rock & roll and the show sometimes featured the other (older) Osmonds doing occasional backup vocals.
The format was the usual mix of comedy and songs, with a liberal sprinkling of the Osmonds’ teenybopper hits.
The comedy often made fun of Donny’s toothy, super-wholesome appearance – as when his brothers ganged up on him and dumped him into a giant nine-foot whipped cream pie in one 1976 broadcast.
Despite his youth, Donny was a show business veteran by the time this programme premiered, having made his TV debut at the age of four singing You Are My Sunshine on The Andy Williams Show.
In order to keep up the clan’s youthful appearance, Merrill introduced another Osmond – his six-month-old son Travis – to the cast on an early telecast.
Although not credited as a regular, Paul Lynde appeared as a guest star on many of the Donny And Marie episodes. Other guest stars included Kate Smith, Andy Williams, Bob Hope, Chuck Norris and Lee “Six Million Dollar” Majors.
The second season brought changes, as a new production team took over in an attempt to give the show a more ‘adult’ look. Much was made of Marie’s stunning new wardrobe, designed by Bob Mackie (Cher‘s former designer) and her 18th birthday party was telecast in October.
Donny and Marie remained a homey affair at heart, though. Tired of the tinsel and glitter of Hollywood, the entire Osmond clan packed up and moved back to their hometown of Orem, Utah, in late 1977.
All subsequent telecasts originated from the elaborate studio facility built there by the Osmonds at a cost of $2.5 million, to house their various TV and film activities.
The first episode taped in Orem was the 1977 Christmas show, which starred Paul Lynde, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and 28 (!) members of the Osmond family.
Midway through their final season, Donny turned 21 (and to prove it, had his wife Debbie on the show). In January 1979 the series moved to Sunday night and was re-titled The Osmond Family Show.
In the late 1990s, after they had embarked on separate careers, Donny and Marie were reunited as the hosts of a syndicated television talk show, which was cancelled in 2000.
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