Credit: Larsen & Talbert for USA WEEKEND / Michael Larsen
The secrets to her success
Keeping weight off. “This is something that I didn’t learn until I lost my weight. I was not a breakfast eater, [but] you have to put fuel in your tank. I really eat breakfast now. I love oatmeal, a piece of fruit or boiled eggs, things like that. Get your engine started.”
Healthy snacks. “Fruit. Raw almonds. I have a juicer. In between shows, I juice.”
Guilty pleasure. Ice cream. “But I love my homemade popcorn the best. I do it with olive oil. I really pop it healthy.”
Beautiful skin. “I swear to you, the best thing you can do is water. Drink, drink, drink, drink. I probably drink eight bottles a day.”
Perfect hair. “I keep my roots colored” between salon appointments. “I know how to color my own roots. You learn those things when you’re on the road.”
Happy marriage. A weekly, no-exceptions date night. “On date night, we love going to the movies. I love to let somebody else entertain me.”
Handling politics. A fellow Mormon tops the GOP presidential ticket, but she says with a laugh: “I just tell people, you know what, I think “I’d rather get food poisoning than talk about politics.” Then she adds: “I think it’s important to read. Not just listen. But read.”
For fellow working moms. “Give yourself a break. Don’t compare your worst to somebody’s best. You do the best you can.”
Marie Osmond, dressed in an eggplant-hued sweater, pencil skirt and color-blocked Yves St. Laurent heels, leans forward to chat with 12-year-old actress Bailee Madison, learning that she began acting in commercials at age 2.
“I can totally relate to her,” Osmond, 52, who entered showbiz at 3, tells the female-dominated audience at a taping of her new hour-long talk show, Marie.
And she does so effortlessly, thanks to a gift of gab honed on stages, movie screens and airwaves over the past five decades. Five minutes later, aprons donned, host and guest are trying to unscrew a blowtorch to blaze Madison’s homemade recipe, crème brûlée French toast. Four cameras circle the kitchen counter, taking in the white bookcases stuffed with photos of Osmond’s children, pots of silk hydrangeas, carefully arranged sequined Marie Osmond Dolls.
“I’m having fun,” Osmond says after the show in her trailer, still charged from the stage. Here, she’s surrounded by only necessities: 2-pound weights, small bowls of almonds, Hershey Kisses and low-calorie hard candies.
Marie, which launches Monday (noon ET/PT) on Hallmark, begins a new chapter for the entertainer, who cultivated appointment-viewing with America in 1976 with the Donny & Marie variety show. In almost 50 years, she has had 30 albums, starred in two major Broadway shows, appeared in three films, hosted a No. 1 national radio show, written two candid books, co-founded the Children’s Miracle Network and taken a memorable — not winning — spin on Dancing With the Stars. Since 2008, Marie and Donny have reunited onstage in Vegas at the Flamingo.
Marie flexes a new muscle. “The last half of my life I wanted to do something that was different, that made a difference,” she says, picking at a bowl of cut fruit. With a daily hour to chat, “you get inside of people’s heads a little bit deeper than normal.”
Osmond becomes the newest fish in a crowded pond of talkers, from Katie Couric to Anderson Cooper to Ellen DeGeneres.
“She’s prettier than any of them, I think,” says Betty White, one of the first guests on Marie. “I think she genuinely enjoys what she’s doing. And you have to enjoy what you work at to make it count to other people.”
“We’re all different,” says Osmond, who wrote and sang the theme song and will mix information on topics like cyber-bullying and parenting with celeb interviews and music. “I’m not Anderson. I’m not Katie. I’m not even Ellen. I’ve had eight kids... I don’t know if you can say it’s competition. It’s our personal takes on life, and mine is definitely a different take, especially as a celebrity, and a mother and a child advocate.”
Unadulterated honesty may be what ultimately defines Osmond, from her frank reveal of her postpartum depression in 2001 to her fainting on DWTS. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of going through ups and downs in our lives,” she says. “We all go through it. The downs and how we deal with them is what really to me manifests who we are.”
She freely references all of her trials without prompting, except one: her pain surrounding her 18-year-old son Michael’s suicide in 2010. “It’s still hard,” says Osmond, who is processing the loss by writing a book with her children’s help. “Time goes by quickly, but it still feels the same as the day it happened. God just gives you little respites in between.” She adds: “And maybe that’s where I come from with this show. I don’t think it’s bad to talk about things if there’s a reason and a purpose in it.” Faith, she says, keeps her strong.
Osmond’s daily grind is brutal. She typically wakes at 5 a.m., flies to L.A. to tape two episodes of Marie and then returns to Las Vegas for her 90-minute variety show with Donny. Bedtime rarely arrives before midnight.
How does she do it? “A great personal assistant. Or two, or three,” Donny cracks via e-mail.
“She’s just one of the special people,” White says.
Osmond says her children keep her young. She has “only” four left at home, ages 9 to 16, plus a newly adopted rescue shepherd/bulldog, George.
She’s also a newlywed. In May 2011, Osmond remarried her first husband, Stephen Craig, whom she first wed in ’82 (and divorced after three years). Reconnecting was “a crazy thing,” she says.
“I never had a partner with my second husband,” she says, referencing a “terrible” divorce from Brian Blosil and their brutal custody battle. “My husband now, he’s Dad. They love him. But you know, he’s a parent. I know he’s a good parent because he’s the father of my oldest child.”
Now, the second time around, “you let the little stuff go. It’s just not important.” I’m so grateful to have a partner. I’m so grateful to have somebody who loves me and loves my children and is willing to do the dishes and be there for the kids.”
This August, she and Craig traveled to Italy on a belated honeymoon with their son Stephen and his wife, Claire, who also married last year. “At his wedding it was so funny, he stood up to make his speech, and he goes, ‘And to see my parents sitting there is just really, you know, kind of weird. Every kid wants their parents to get back together, but after 25 years you kind of give up,’” recounts Osmond, laughing.
“I haven’t seen her this happy in a long time,” Donny says, suspending his teasing. “She deserves it.”
Her secret to happiness? “Laughter is a key to life.”