Sunday, July 27, 2008

Donny Osmond

On our way back from Pasadena last night, we passed a Miley Cyrus billboard. Then a Hannah Montana billboard. (And the Disney studios. And then Warner Bros., where Rope was filmed.)

Anyway, I got to thinking about Donny Osmond. Back in the '70s Donny and sister Marie were huge. They were huge in a way that's almost hard to comprehend today. It's not exactly the same, mind you: On the one hand, the PR machines today seem a lot broader in scope. There was no Donny & Marie movie, on the one hand, but there's no Hannah Montana SatAM cartoon on the other.

Anyway, when the Donny & Marie show ended, Donny's 15-year career came to a crashing halt. He was 21 and probably didn't remember a time when he wasn't constantly getting more popular.

I almost felt sorry for the guy. Being a 21 year old and washed up can't be easy. Sort of like Britney or Lindsay or any of these modern train wrecks.

I almost felt sorry, except for two things. First, he always came off like a jerk. It was fairly well sublimated on the show (men were the butt of jokes on the male/female variety shows of the '70s), but he made no bones about it in subsequent interviews. Only recently have I seen something like Second, at some point, shouldn't you just be grateful you had that time in the sun? Fifteen years is pretty long in show-biz terms, and it's not like anyone owes you attention.

At that point, you ought to have enough money to pursue whatever you want, right? You have a big family, lots of money, you have it all. Lots of guys slave away for decades and never achieve anything like a fraction of the fame you have. And--be honest--you know many of them are better musicians and performers. So why the hell not be grateful and keep working at it (if that's what you want) . Yeah, you'll probably never get lucky like that again (and that level of fame always depends on luck), but at least you won't spend the next 10, 15, or 20 years hating your life.

(Of course, I'm just assuming that's the case from the few snippets of interview. Maybe he just gets angry when he gets interviewed.)

So. Yeah.

Anyway, I hope Miley doesn't get bitter when her current level of fame subsides.


  1. First, he always came off like a jerk. I

    His no-holds-barred performance in "White and Nerdy" indicates at least some ability to laugh at himself... either that or it's: any opportunity to ham it up for the camera.

  2. I actually think he's loosened up a bit in recent years. I get the sense that he's struggling with his jerkitude.

    Danny Bonaduce seems to struggle with it, too, but I think he usually loses.

    A grade-school buddy of mine was a child actor of some small fame. He had a pretty good sense of humor about himself and his career.

  3. Danny Bonaduce seems to struggle with it, too, but I think he usually loses.

    he's at a healthier place now, where he's fully *embraced* it

  4. When it's all said and done, Donny did a lot better than his contempory, Michael Jackson. I mean the King of Pop ascended to the heights of show business where he was the biggest star in the world, to the depths where he is now. So Donnie did ok for himself. Certainly better than his sister with all of her troubles.

  5. If he had better management, he could have been Wayne Newton. Now you can laugh, but old Wayne is the favorite performer of many solid midwestern families and is multi-millionare many times over. He is the King of Vegas. And of course he blongs humorous comments under his assumed name of Bissage.

  6. he's at a healthier place now, where he's fully *embraced* it


    Embrace your inner a-hole.

  7. Well, look, if you have to compare yourself to Michael Jackson to feel good about yourself, you've set the bar pretty damn low.

    (I guess. Although I generally disbelieve media reports of celebrities, MJ doesn't seem to be in a good place just from observable behavior.)

    Marie had troubles, sure, we all do. But you wouldn't know it to look at her. She always seems gracious. Troubled, sometimes, but gracious.

    By comparison, Donny has always seemed resentful.

    Vis a vis Wayne Newton, no, I wouldn't mock the Newt. If you're an entertainer of any degree of success, you're going to end up mocked. If you're around for a long time, you're going to get to the point where you're old-fashioned and "not hip", and so on.

    Guys like Wayne (or Paul Anka, if you've heard awesome audio tape) who go out every show and do it like they mean it--ya gotta respect that. It's work. It isn't always stardom; they all have points, I'm sure, where they wonder what the hell they're still doing in the biz.

    But then often it wraps around again. Like with Tony Bennet--or with Newton, for that matter.

    Character actors are in a similar boat. They always gotta bring it, 'cause they're not getting work on star power, and they gotta be nice or they ain't workin' much longer, etc. Sometimes they steal the show, but they're always there giving 100%.

    But a lot of the superstars? They'd rather vanish than pursue the art side of the craft. And a few of them will show up in a rinky-dink little nothing movie, and just, you know...act.

    God loves a working man.


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