WILKES-BARRE — She was a little bit country, he was a little bit rock and roll, and everybody in the audience was 100 percent Osmond-awed.
I know I sure was.
OK, I’ll come clean — I have been a fan of Donny and Marie Osmond, well the entire Osmond family, since I first saw them on the Andy Williams Show in the mid-’60s. From the moment I saw and heard them — clean cut, sparkling teeth, perfect harmonies — I was a fan. They just exemplified the All-American image that all families should be like.
They were beyond talented and good-looking kids, they were polite, mannerly, well-dressed, fun, happy and incredibly energized.
Like many people young and old back then, I would sit there in front of the television mesmerized by these Osmonds as they sang and danced their way across the stage and into the hearts of America.
This was back in the day when life in a small town was the best. You know, when neighbors were neighborly, doors were unlocked, cars were cool, classy and rowdy and no two looked alike, kids walked to school — which never closed because it snowed — teachers knew our names, the president of the U.S. and elected officials made us proud and computers, cell phones and iPads were decades from being invented.
We watched TV programs like “Leave it to Beaver,” “Ozzie and Harriet,” “I Love Lucy,” “Bonanza,” “Gunsmoke,” “Ed Sullivan,” “Johnny Carson,” “The Honeymooners,” “Dragnet” and variety shows that were hosted by Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Flip Wilson and Andy Williams. And we watched the Osmonds over and over and over.
Somewhere here I may have developed a program to home-school children today — make them watch all of those shows, with their parents, and maybe we can effect a turnaround in the direction we are headed. Or not.
Those, truly, were the best of days. I think about them often and I long for their return. That’s why I felt so fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Marie Osmond on the phone a couple of weeks ago.
It was a busy Friday and my phone rang. I answered it, “Times Leader newsroom, Bill O’Boyle.”
On the other end was an angelic voice that said, “Hi, Bill, it’s Marie Osmond. Is this a good time to talk?”
To put this in proper perspective, the only thing that could have possibly caused me to say, “No, can you call back?” would be if I was in some secure bank vault room counting the $435 million I had just received from winning the lottery.
My response to Marie was, “Sure, this is perfect, just hold on for a second.”
I had to compose myself. This was Marie Osmond on the phone. As much as I couldn’t wait to talk to her, I was equally concerned not to mess it up. I didn’t want to sound like a bumbling idiot, so I took a few deep breaths and picked up the phone and began the interview.
I was honest. I told Marie that it was an honor to speak to her, that I was a lifelong fan of her and her family and that I couldn’t wait to see and hear her in concert at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. She giggled and thanked me and we went on with the interview. It came out pretty good. I learned a lot about her and I came away even more impressed with her and her family.
Take the time to Google her and read about her exemplary life — its many ups and its few downs — and I am sure you will be impressed. Just that she and actor Jon Schneider (Bo Duke from “The Dukes of Hazzard”) co-founded the Children’s Miracle Network is enough to qualify her for the Human Being Hall of Fame.
At the end of the interview, Marie said she wanted to meet me when she got to town. I thanked her and really never thought it would happen. But when I picked up my tickets, there were two backstage passes for the show.
My high school classmate, Bob Shivy, and I went to the show. Bob loves Marie and he was anxious to go. When the show ended, we were escorted backstage to a dressing room to wait for Marie to arrive.
When she came in, I introduced her to Bob. They chatted and Marie asked Bob to stand for a hug and a photo. She did the same with me and the other four people in the room. It was a special moment for all.
I’m not sure when, or if, I will ever bathe again. But I do know that I bought Marie’s new CD and I will always be a fan.