Looking back, he said, he can't imagine having to make that kind of adult commitment at the age of 5. There were times over the next few years, he admitted, when he didn't really want to put up with all the rehearsing, singing and hard work required of him.
"But," he said, "the ball was rolling and the demand was there because we kept getting a lot of mail that said, 'Let's see that little Donny kid some more.' So there was, I felt, a pressure. I went through quite a few tantrums, and my father put me back in line, thank goodness."
Donny was 16 and on the verge of co-hosting the hit "Donny and Marie" TV variety show when he met 15-year-old Debbie Glenn in 1975. Debbie and her sister, who was Miss Provo at the time, doubled-dated with Donny and his brother, Jay.
"We did this for about four dates and finally, I don't know, we'd go out and you know how things just kind of click," said Debbie. "We just kind of hit it off; our personalities mixed real well. But I was dating a fellow at the time so I was interested, but it wasn't like I was head over heels. It took a while."
They were married three years later in the Salt Lake City Mormon Temple. Debbie is quoted as saying at the time that she would like to "stay home and be a wife and raise a family."
She said she still feels that way.
Why She Stays Home
"I don't care to have a career right now because Donny is gone so much that if I'm not home, who raises my children?" she said. "I don't want someone else putting their attitudes or their beliefs into my children. I'd prefer to do it myself. But I enjoy it. Once the kids get going in school I'd love to do something during the day, but I've got little ones at home, and the most important years are from birth to about 6 when they go to school."
Asked his view of marriage, Donny replied: "It's great. It's a challenge. It's nice that we have a lot of the same goals and attitudes about life, particularly religion. That's something that a family doesn't need any conflict on."
Added Debbie: "One thing Donny and I had from the start is we had very good communication. Even while dating, he'd call me and talk on the phone for hours, and we can still do that being married, and solve all our problems."
Laughed Donny: "We keep AT&T in business."
Although Donny is on the road about a third of the year doing concerts (occasionally with Marie), Debbie said his absences of up to four weeks at a time have not created problems in their marriage.
"To tell you the truth," she said, "it almost creates a better marriage because when you're with each other every single day you find things to pick at. But when you don't have each other there you miss each other tremendously, and you look at the wonderful qualities in that person and what it would be like without him. So I think we probably have a better marriage because we appreciate each other."
Chairman of the Board
In addition to recording and performing, Donny has taken on a new role in the past year and a half--as chairman of the board of the Dallas-headquartered Donny Osmond Entertainment Corp., a publicly held company formed to develop television and movie projects.
Current projects include the development of several TV series ideas, plans to syndicate half-hour versions of the old "Donny and Marie" variety hour and negotiations to obtain the rights to syndicate the monthly boxing matches at the Irvine Marriott.
Although he would be focusing his attention on the corporation for the next two weeks, Donny said he doesn't spend too much time on corporate business. "I have people that worry about that; I show up when I need to show up," he said.
Come December he'll be back on the road doing concerts. The mid-'70s teen heartthrob still generates frenzied screams from teen-aged girls. "You know," he said with a laugh, "it's amazing it still happens."
Describing his music as "pop rock with a rhythm and blues feel," Donny said his upcoming album, videos and film projects represent a "definite departure" from the young Donny Osmond of old.
It will be, he said, a more mature, sophisticated Donny Osmond.
But, he emphasizes, "it's not going to be a departure to get rid of the 'goody-goody' (image). I'm not consciously trying to get rid of that. I think goody-goody is another way of saying wholesome, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that."
When he's at home in Irvine, he spends a lot of time in his eight-track recording studio, which also houses his personal computer. "I spend most of my time on my ITT computer," he said.
But the important thing, Debbie said with a laugh, is that he's home and "I can bang on the door."
Asked if they plan to have more children--to raise another large Osmond family, Donny grinned: "No, we're not going to have nine kids."
"It's a little hard nowadays," said Debbie. "I'd love to have a little girl, but I just had a little baby not long ago, so I think three boys will keep me busy."
And what about the Osmonds of Irvine? Have they made a long-term commitment to living in Orange County?
"We're looking at it as long-term right now, but too many things can change," said Donny. "Nothing is in concrete."