Donny Osmond opens up about his anxiety: How his wife helped him overcome “the dark years” of his career

We will never grow tired of listening to Donny Osmond. The legendary performer has spent almost his entire life in show business, releasing hundreds of songs and playing some of the biggest venues.

We all know that living a life in the spotlight can be pretty dangerous for some people, as money and fame have consequences. For some, that leads to a very destructive life and no real opportunity to be themselves. But for Donny Osmond, that has not been the case.

For more than 45 years, Donny has been married to his beloved wife, Debbie. The two actually met already when they were teenagers, but in the beginning, she wasn’t in love with him – in fact, she was more interested in Donny’s brother! Debbie has been the most crucial person in Donny’s life. At one point, the famous singer revealed she practically saved his life.

Donny Osmond hadn’t even turned six before he was a professional entertainer. Born in Ogden, Utah, on December 9, 1957, right away, he and his older siblings rose to fame as the Osmond Brothers. They became a regular act on The Andy Williams Show – and the family decided to move to Los Angeles to give the children the best chance of becoming stars.

Danny Osmond – early life
In the ’70s, Donny Osmond was beyond groovy. He had begun his career singing alongside his older brothers when he was five. A decade later, Osmond had a successful solo career. He was also a fully-fledged teen idol, with his photos plastering the walls of his young fans.

Donny Osmond has lived pretty much his entire life in the spotlight. Becoming a child star was, of course, the dream of many children worldwide. However, it also came at a price.He explained that, as you try to keep grasping at early success and don’t realize you have to “recreate yourself,” it’s tough. Moreover, Osmond explained that the hype suddenly becomes a reality, and the yes-saying people can create a reality around you that isn’t necessarily true.

In Donny’s case, however, his family became a haven for him to be “just Donny.”

His religion was also crucial.

“Thank goodness I had a great family growing up, a great foundation. But I will say my faith, my parents, my family, all that stuff is very, very important. And I’ll say that until the day I die. But I think the most important ingredient to survive is self-determination, not to fall into that trap,” Donny Osmond told CNN.

He continued, “You’re an island no matter what you do. I think it’s very dangerous to use popularity as your identity in life. So you have to really know who you are inside, the core person, and follow what is true rather than follow what is hype.”

“And that’s so hard when you’re involved in all of this excitement, this screaming, and everything like that. They’re screaming for an image, you know. And then you go home, and you put your pants on just like anybody else. You eat your breakfast just like anybody else. You’re just like anybody else.”

Donny Osmond and wife Debbie’s love story
Donny Osmond grew up a heartthrob, and when he became a teenager, it’s probably not an exaggeration that thousands of people had fallen in love with him. But for Donny, there was pretty much only one girl he loved, his wife Debbie, whom he’s now been married to for over 40 years!

So how did the two meet? Well, in fact, Debbie and Donny met while they were both teenagers. Donny was 17 at the time, and Debbie was 16. However, while Donny called her his first true love, she didn’t want to date him at first. The reason was simple: She dated his brother.

“She was the hot babe cheerleader in town, and she dated my brother Jay [Osmond] before she dated me,” Donny Osmond said about their relationship in a Facebook post from 2016. “It took me 3 whole years to win her heart and convince her to marry me.”

Donny and Debbie finally began dating. He planned something special for her 17th birthday in 1976, including a ride in a limousine and a romantic dinner. The singer indeed wanted to impress his date.

“Debbie was playing hard to get, and I wanted to plan something really, really special for our first kiss,” Donny told the Utah Valley Magazine.

When they had enjoyed their romantic dinner, Donny had planned a scavenger hunt for Debbie. Eventually, they ended up at Utah Lake – where they shared their first kiss.

“She came back to the limo and read that she could get her final clue from Donny if she gave him a kiss. And it was fireworks, let me tell you!” Donny Osmond recalled.

Donny Osmond’s father didn’t accept his son’s marriage
When Donny was 20 and Debbie 19, only three years after meeting each other for the first time, the couple tied the knot at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, on May 8, 1978. But while Donny Osmond and Debbie – and many of their friends and family – were over the moon about their union, not everyone was happy about it.

Speaking with The Guardian in 2017, Donny Osmond revealed that his father, George, didn’t want his son even to have a relationship with a woman. According to him, it was hurting Donny’s career.

“While the world knew me as a teen idol, and the Osmonds’ fame was at its height, I began secretly dating Debbie Glenn,” Donny explained. “By the time I was 19, I knew I was in love and had to do something right for me. When I told my dad, he said, ‘Well, there goes your career, but this is ushering in your personal life.’”

“My dad was right about my career after I got married. But Debbie is an amazing person to be with. If I hadn’t married her, I’d have been a mess. Now, I had someone who understood me and with whom I could build a future together.”

Donny Osmond continued, “I learned a lot from my parents about loving your children, treating them with respect, and allowing them a voice. Our religion teaches that we are bonded together in eternity, so relationships are very respectful. We value kindness and forgiveness. Debbie and I are religious but not over-fanatical so we have a firm respect for deity, which holds true in our home. I based my parenting style on my dad at first, whom I grew very close to over the years. I think I lightened up as a dad as time went on.”

Donny and Debbie welcomed their first child, son Donald Clark Osmond Jr., in 1979, just a year after getting married. Over the years, they had four more children: Don (born in 1979), Jeremy (1981), Brandon (1985), Christopher (1990), and Joshua (1998).

“She is the glue that holds us all together”
Having a superstar like their father could’ve affected Donny Osmond’s children in a negative way. However, he credited his lovely wife for giving their children a normal childhood.

On Valentine’s Day in 2020, Donny wrote a beautiful tribute to Debbie, calling her “the absolute love of my life.”

“I want to publicly express my gratitude for the irreplaceable influence Debbie continues to be in my life. She’s not only the love of my life, but she’s also my best friend and greatest confidant. Between raising our five sons, running the show at home, enjoying time with our grandchildren, and running a business as well, I really don’t know how she manages to do it all,” Donny Osmond wrote on Facebook.

“Through the years, Debbie has often had to manage on her own while I’ve toured and performed on the road. That’s a very heavy burden to bear, and I’m deeply grateful for a wife who is my teammate in every sense of the word. She is the glue that holds us all together,” he added.

When Donny Osmond embarked on his solo career in the early 1980s, after Donny and Marie had been canceled, the singer experienced many mental health problems.

He felt that he had to be “even greater to be perfect,” always putting on a perfect performance every night. While in Minneapolis, things got to a point of no return, and Donny Osmond suffered a panic attack.

He recalled laying in bed, shaking, and he knew something was wrong. His wife took him to the hospital, and Donny almost broke down in tears when speaking about the scary event.

“I collapsed. [I was afraid of] failing, of making a mistake,” he said.

Donny Osmond says Debbie helped him overcome anxiety
Sadly, his mental health problems and struggles with anxiety had begun even earlier, in his teenage years. The young boy was chased by girls wherever he went, and the publicity was getting too much to handle

In an interview with People Magazine, Donny recalled how he went to his family house after a show in Hawaii and just curled up into a ball.

“My brother Jay walked in and said, ‘Donny, what’s wrong?’ I said, ‘I’m lonely,’” Doonny Osmond said. “He said, ‘You just had thousands of girls screaming your name. Why are you lonely?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I just need someone.’”

Not long after, Donny fell in love with Debbie. But he knew that it would change everything – and that his career would be “over” when the relationship became public. Of course, that didn’t happen. As mentioned, sadly, his anxiety problems followed him for many years.

When he played Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Donny never thought he’d be able to do it.“It’s like you’re standing in the middle of an intersection, and here comes a massive semi right at you at 90 miles an hour, and you can’t do anything about it,” Osmond said about his anxiety in an interview with People Magazine. “I would walk on stage knowing I was going to die. It was horrible.”

Debbie helped Donny Osmond through “the dark years” of his career
“Debbie said, ‘Why don’t you go out there tonight and do an average show?’ It ended up being the best show I ever did because I gave myself an opportunity to make a mistake.”

In the end, Donny stayed on the show for over six years – doing around 2000 performances in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

“It started the foundation of me being a multifaceted entertainer,” Osmond concluded.

When appearing on The Drew Barrymore Show, Osmond further opened up about how his wife helped him through “the dark years” of his career.

“I was in such a desperate place that Debbie pulled me out of it,” Donny Osmon explained. “Whenever I make a decision in my life, the first thing I think about is her. How does it affect her? And the second thing I think about is how does it affect my children? The third, now, is how does it affect my grandchildren. And then I’m fourth. If all four of those are a green light, then I’ll do it. I think that is what’s really helped this 43-year marriage is that she comes first. But I love what I do.”

Donny Osmond and his wife, Debbie, are such a wonderful couple. We wish them all the best in the future!

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