Jimmy Osmond talks about bringing the Andy Williams Christmas Spectacular to Derbyshire

Derby Telegraph

November 25, 2015

Three members of the Osmond family are performing in Chesterfield this Christmas, and long-time fan Jill Gallone couldn’t be more delighted. She speaks to the not so “little” man behind the show, Jimmy Osmond

Osmondmania is alive and well in Derbyshire – and in my heart! I discovered this quite by accident when an email arrived out of the blue inviting me to speak to Jimmy Osmond.

I reverted back to being a star-struck eight-year-old in a nano-second. You see, “little”Jimmy Osmond and his brothers were an intrinsic part of my childhood – and I couldn’t resist telling Jimmy that, though I think I heard an audible grown crackling down the line from his home in America. Actually, it might have been several groans.

“I used to have a picture of you on my wall at home, Jimmy.”


“Yes, and I’ve still got all my Osmonds records…


“Yes, and I had this very vivid weird dream about you once when I was a little girl. I can still remember it now. You were doing something very dangerous and I has to tell you off.”

“Oh nooo…”

At this point, I thought it best to stop embarrassing the singing star, who is now 52 years young and not quite so “little” anymore – and get on with the interview. Much to my amazement, I discovered that Jimmy is in the UK in the run up to Christmas starring in The Andy Williams Christmas Spectacular alongside two other members of the Osmond family and Jimmy Cricket. And he’s bringing his show to Chesterfield. In fact, the Derbyshire town is the last venue on a national tour spanning 15 towns and cities as far apart as Edinburgh and London.

Jimmy’s show finishes in our county on December 22, which means he can then jet back across the water to spend Christmas at home. And that will be pretty special this year for the father of four – two girls and two boys – who is married to Michele Larson

“It will be my first Christmas with my family for years,” said Jimmy. “Usually I am performing panto in the UK.

“I’ve done five pantos and I love it. We don’t have panto in America and people over there don’t get what it’s all about, but I do. I did a panto in Nevada once and we had to tell the audience the rules.”

With a rare family Christmas beckoning at the end of his tour, the Chesterfield show promises to be extra special for lots of reasons. Not least, because it will take people on a double voyage of nostalgia.

After all, if you’re familiar with the Osmonds, chances are popular Amecian singer Andy Williams was part of your formative or younger years too. That was certainly the case for Jimmy.

Singing in Andy’s Christmas show is among his earliest memories.

He said: “I first appeared on Andy’s stage when I was only three years old. My brothers had been singing back-up on Andy’s biggest hits and had been regulars on his television series for several years.

“It’s such a joy to carry on Andy’s legacy and continue his treasured holiday tradition. I am thrilled to bring Andy’s Christmas Spectacular to the UK.

“People who grew up with the Osmonds and Andy Williams and want to remember those times will love the show.”

Andy died at the age of 84 in 2012, but his songs and success live on at the historic Andy Williams Moon River Theatre in Branson, USA, which Jimmy owns and operates. In fact, the Christmas spectacular, which is touring Britain for the first time, comes direct from the theatre.

The award-winning variety production includes nostalgic festive footage of Andy Williams and seasonal classics such as Silent Night and Merry Christmas Everybody.

Jimmy, joined by brothers Merrill and Jay, will perform Osmond hits including Love Me for a Reason, Crazy Horses and Down By The Lazy River.

Osmond fans will be in their element, and Jimmy is very grateful for their seemingly never ending loyalty.

“I never thought this showbiz life would work for me. It’s a fleeting business. My life has ended up being very full, even though I haven’t reached the heights of others.

“You go wherever you are wanted and the UK has always been kind to me. I have a huge fondness for the country and I like the people.”

Jimmy knows the wave of nostalgia the Osmonds generate is still significant. In the 1970s they dominated the music world, the boy band of their time. Donny was always the biggest heart-throb but each member had a huge fanbase.

The Osmonds began as a barbershop quartet with brothers Alan, Wayne, Merril, and Jay Osmond. Donny and Jimmy, the youngest, joined later and their only sister, Marie, launched a successful solo career in 1973.

Older brothers George and Tom were born deaf and did not originally perform. Famous for their Mormon beliefs, the Osmonds were born in Ogden, Utah, except Jimmy, who was born in Canoga Park, California.

Together, they have sold 102 million records worldwide and, in their 1970s heyday they generated such hysteria among screaming fans it was dubbed Osmondmania. That’s because it was so reminiscent of 1960s Beatlemania. So after achieving so much, why does Jimmy still feel the need to work so relentlessly?

“It’s much harder work not doing anything. Yes, it’s hard work but so is everyday life. My life is filled with really great experiences. I have to pinch myself sometimes.”

Jimmy’s had many golden moments but, perhaps, the one that resonates most with the British public is his Christmas number one, Long Haired Lover From Liverpool, which topped the charts for five weeks in 1972. He is still in the Guinness Book of Records for being the youngest person to reache number one. He was nine years old.

I hear an another audible groan at the end of the phone line when I mention this. “Half the people you meet hate it and half love it,” he says. And I can tell by his voice he probably falls into the the former category, though he’s far too polite to say. “The trouble is it’s been overplayed,” he adds tactfully. Done to death was perhaps what he was thinking.

Anyway it turned “little” Jimmy into a star in the UK and no onwewho lived through that era will ever forget it.

It is, no doubt, one of the reasons why Jimmy was asked to take part in ITV’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! in 2005. “Some people may remember from that,” he says.

He finished fourth in the year Carol Thatcher was crowned Queen of the Australian jungle. Jimmy’s game for adventure, that’s for sure.

And his latest adventure is heading our way. “In America we have a lot of variety shows at Christmas,” said Jimmy. “The Osmond Family Christmas Show, which I’ve been asked many times to bring to the UK, came out of being in Andy Williams’ festive show.”

The Andy Williams Christmas Spectacular starring The Osmonds may be the closest thing we’ll get to enjoying the season of goodwill with this famous American family.

The Andy Williams Christmas Spectacular starring The Osmonds with Jimmy Cricket and The Moon River Singers and Dancers is at the Winding Wheel, Chesterfield, on Tuesday December 22, 7.30pm. Tickets £36, dinner and show £51, VIP tickets including meet and greet and goodie bag of tour items £151.50. Call 01246 345222 or visit chesterfieldtheatres.co.uk
Jimmy Osmond facts:

1. In 2004, Jimmy Osmond was in Missouri recording his TV show, Jimmy Osmond’s American Jukebox, when he was suddenly overcome with a blinding headache. He thought it was a severe migraine, but hospital tests revealed he had suffered a stroke. Luckily, it caused no permanent damage. At the time he also found out he had a hole in his heart, which was later surgically corrected.

2. In 1978 Jimmy starred in feature film The Great Brain. He also appeared in two episodes of TV series Fame.

3. Jimmy is president of Osmond Entertainment. He has developed and supervised most of The Osmonds’ merchandising business, as well as producing hundreds of hours of programming for networks including ABC, PBS, BBC and the Disney Channel.

4. Musical theatre is familiar to Jimmy. He has starred in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Boogie Nights. He has also played Buttons in Cinderella at the White Rock Theatre in Hastings and Wishee Washee in Aladdin at the Grand Theatre in Swansea.

5. Jimmy has appeared on several UK TV shows including I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in 2005 (above), All Star Family Fortunes and a celebrity version of Come Dine with Me.

Article originally posted at Derby Telegraph

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