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Marie Osmond--the Mormon Madonna?

October 27, 1985|DEBORAH CAULFIELD

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Marie Osmond stood in her dressing room putting final touches on her makeup. She studied her face in the brightly lit mirror, then announced matter-of-factly, "I look tired."

Wardrobe mistress Lisa Savage looked up from her newspaper and perused her boss's face. She assured Osmond, "You look great !" She returned to an article on the Sean Penn-Madonna nuptials and read aloud some of the juicier tidbits.

"Cher came with purple hair. . . . There were all these helicopters. . . " She suddenly stopped, a look of disbelief on her face as she questioned, "Madonna was wearing a black derby under her veil?"

The Mormon Madonna smiled at Savage's incredulity as she calmly touched up her long fingernails with some polish. Although Marie Osmond was a peer, she didn't know her more . . . secular counterpart, nor any members of the so-called Brat Pack who attended the wedding in full force.

"I guess when I was about 13 and doing the (Donny and Marie) show, I got into the clothes and the glamour and all, but after a few years I just wanted to be normal," she reflected--unpatronizingly, but definitely with an edge of experience.

After all, at 26, she's already done 23 years in Show Business. She popped a wild cherry Life Saver into her mouth--an attempt to keep her increasingly scratchy throat at bay--and went off to change clothes.

In a few minutes, she and brother Donny would bound on stage at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts to entertain at a benefit for the local fireman's association.

She'd been touring at a heavy pace, crisscrossing the country for one- and two-night engagements. She usually played alone but was joined by Donny at various stops. Her days off were spent taping episodes for the soon-to-be canceled "Ripley's Believe It or Not," which she now co-hosts.

Her schedule left her little time to breathe, but that's the way she wanted it. For Marie Osmond, resuming a full-time career has been easier than sitting at home thinking about the marriage she left behind.

A new American Sweetheart was crowned the moment Marie Osmond appeared alongside her famous singing brothers on the Andy Williams Show in the mid-1960s.

She grew from toothy pubescence to sleek adolescence in America's living rooms during the long-running "Donny and Marie Show." Her dates, her clothes, her diets and her dilemmas were dutifully reported in magazines ranging from Seventeen and American Girl through the National Enquirer and the Star.

By the time she married in 1982, the event was big news--a Milestone in Time magazine, a story on "Entertainment Tonight," a full-length feature in McCall's.

Her impending motherhood was tracked by Women's Day, Ladies Home Journal and Redbook; the birth of her son was practically a royal event.

Her marital troubles made headlines in many of the same publications, followed by stories of the many reconciliations that took place. Those stories were finally replaced with hard news--there would be a divorce.

The Star most recently non-reported that the couple finally agreed on a divorce settlement because they hadn't wanted details of their three-year marriage revealed in court. (In fact, Marie Osmond got exactly what she asked for--$1 per year alimony and custody of her son.)

Her re-emergence in show business brings her again into the living rooms of America--this time as a glamorous young woman. Her visage inspired Los Angeles musician Jack Skelley to pen an ode, "To Marie Osmond," which was reprinted in the November issue of Harper's magazine. An excerpt:

There you are again,

Your crystal-perfect face

On the cover of the Enquirer.

It seems you're everywhere this Spring,

On more magzines than April has roses.

And yes, your series flopped, but you really are

More suited to the slit sequined dresses of NBC (sic)

Than to Family Circle declarations of virginity.

Lips of a TV Venus should pucker, not pout.

Marie on Marie: I don't mind being called wholesome. I am. But why does it have to mean namby-pamby?

The last leg of the summer-long Osmond tour had kicked off in Victorville, near the rodeo grounds at the San Bernardino County Fair.

While not a stop for the Bruce Springsteens of the world, the fair has presented such secondary luminaries as Rick Nelson, the Righteous Brothers, Elvin Bishop, Dottie West and Jan and Dean, but never to the capacity crowds that now overflowed from the grandstand for two back-to-back shows by Donny and Marie.

The glamorous woman on the small stage bore small resemblance to the sweetheart of prime-time TV. She was dressed in a knee-length, royal blue sequined dress, rock-sized rhinestone earrings and silver high-heeled pumps that accentuated her curvaceous legs.

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