Osmond family jewel
Deseret Morning News editorial
May 12, 2004
Chevrolet did it. So did Kodak, Kleenex and Olive Osmond. They all created American "brand names" known around the world. In the case of Olive Osmond, the brand was the family name: Osmond. Saying "Osmond" in a game of word association will summon up "wholesome," "pleasant," "well-scrubbed" and "upbeat." The term "goody-goody" might even come up. But those who feel that those adjectives are unappealing need only ask themselves what words the brand names "Madonna," "O.J." and "Britney" bring to mind.
On Sunday, Olive Osmond passed away at 79 after weathering a series of strokes. With her famous family about her, she died - fittingly - on Mother's Day. And though many news outlets mentioned her passing, there was no question that her death hit home in Utah.
Over the years, Mother Osmond's family had its ups and downs, of course. Indeed, she probably felt like the matriarch on "All My Children." But she kept her faith and her composure. She had coached her offspring well. Like the mother bear training her cubs for the wild, she knew how brutal the rough-and-tumble world of show business could be, and she prepared herself and her children accordingly. She instilled in them the values and virtues she'd grown up with in small-town Idaho.
Then she served as a living reminder of them.
At first her kids sang to earn money to pay for their LDS missions. Later they signed on with Disney to brighten the day for Disneyland patrons. The breakthrough came when Andy Williams took a shine to the group. One suspects he cherished their tight "sibling harmony," that same "bust a chord" brightness he'd relished in the Williams Brothers as a boy.
But more than their talent, what charmed America was their temperament. There was an Osmond mystique - a playfulness and professionalism, and a warm, spiritual energy.
Known as a fine organizer with an even temper, Olive Osmond found her mettle tested as her children struggled with fame and fortune. But she held true to herself and her children. In fact, the best description of her may have been written by John Steinbeck in "Grapes of Wrath" when he described steady Ma Joad: "From her great and humble position in the family," Steinbeck writes, "she had taken dignity and a clean calm beauty . . . she seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever really wavered or despaired, the family would fall."
Olive Osmond never wavered or despaired. And she left her kin a family legacy, while giving the rest of the world a legacy family.
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