Jimmy Osmond talks ahead of Birmingham Christmas show - interview
He's one of the most charming men in showbusiness.
Jimmy Osmond has the best manners and the smartest stories of them all. And perhaps that's no surprise. The youngest of the Osmonds has been in the business for 50 years – even though he's only 53.
He made his debut when he walked on stage to sing and dance on The Andy Williams Show. Osmond's career blossomed and, remarkably, he was eventually asked by the old crooner to continue his legacy. Williams sold him The Andy Williams Theatre in Branson.
"It's a bizarre history," says Celebrity MasterChef 2016 finalist Jimmy. "If you had told me when I was just a toddler that one day I'd own his theatre, I would have never believed it."
Jimmy Osmond and his Christmas show The Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza will arrive at Birmingham Town Hall on December 23.
"It's the 50th anniversary of when I started playing with Andy in Vegas. My brothers were already regulars on his show. He became part of our family, really. Before he died, we had theatres together, ours was next to his.
"He knew he was a good operator at running theatres and shows because he taught me. Then when the end was near, he wanted me to keep the legacy going." One of the projects Williams was keen to keep alive was Moon River and Me. It features visuals and memories of everything from The Godfather to Love Story to Moon River.
Jimmy kept it alive with Britain's Got Talent singer Charlie Green, who sings a little like Michael Buble. Then he decided to step into the main role.
"People wanted someone to host it who had that connection with Andy. So I stepped in and tried it. I was doing two shows a day and all these promoters from around the world heard about it. We've only done a handful of road dates with the show but the reaction has been amazing. We've been asked to go to Japan and Israel and other parts of the world." He is, however, most pleased about returning to the UK.
"I have a fondness for the UK. I feel like I'm British. I was supposed to do five shows but now it's 27.
"It's not about me, I'm just the ringmaster. I sing some of the songs that everyone loves to remember. It's a very intimate show. It's such a fun thing. Here's a guy, Andy, who stuck his neck out for me and my family or we never would have been in showbusiness. It feels like I'm giving back to him and fulfilling a promise. People are walking away with a happy heart." As a kid, Osmond was scared silly of Andy. Osmond's father, an army sergeant, charged his children with pleasing the singer to make sure they stayed on his TV show. "We were under strict orders to please Mr Williams or we wouldn't be on TV the next week. His show was like Britain's Got Talent but every week for years.
"I used to be the little kid who would take the cookies from the cookie bear on his show. I knew him really well. At the end of his life, we were physically neighbours. We'd discuss the lows and excitement of owning a theatre and running shows."
Osmond has led a unique life. His first hit was in Japanese and he became a child star who didn't want to grow up. "I never thought showbusiness would last for me. I have siblings who are so good at what they do. I always worried, do I matter?"
He got into production and promotion. "But that didn't last. I was sick of the egos. I had a strange upbringing and I had a chip on my shoulder for a lot of years. I just didn't like myself very much. That happens to every child star I've ever met and I've met a lot of them.
"Going through all I've gone through, I look at myself now and what really makes me happy isn't being the star of anything. What makes me happy is my family and my kids, I have four beautiful kids and my great wife."
By Andy Richardson
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