Nine children with 34 gold and platinum records, hit television shows, over 102 million records sold worldwide, and an international following in the UK torival that of the Beatles' success in the United States. Not to mention anon-profit foundationthat has raised more than $5 billion for 170 children's hospitals across the nation.
Oh, and did I mention she's a faithful Latter-day Saint who shared her faith fearlessly—no matter what, where, or who she was with?
The woman behind such success and such selfless service? Olive Osmond—or Mother Osmond as she was known by her loving fans.
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Olive and George
There was nothing particularly grand about the Osmond family's genesis. Born in Samaria, Idaho, Olive May met George Osmond in Ogden, Utah, where she was working as a secretary. The two fell in love and married on December 1, 1944. The first few years of marriage were full of happiness right alongside heartache and hardship as Olive and George welcomed two sons into their family, Virl and Tom, both born with a degenerative condition that left them nearly deaf.
However, fear that their other children could have the same condition didn’t deter the Osmonds from pursuing their dream of having a large family, and Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie, and Jimmy were all welcomed into the family.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.
In the early 1960s, George formed a barbershop quartet with sons Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay that eventually landed them an act at Disneyland. While performing in a televised Disney special, the quartet caught the eye of Andy Williams' father, and pretty soon the family became regulars on The Andy Williams' Show.
From there, the family's path to stardom continued its explosive trajectory, taking them to exotic venues and to meet with celebrities and dignitaries around the world.
But even in this sudden tide of fame and fortune, Olive was sure to keep her children grounded and to teach them the faith and truths she held so dear. And, at every opportunity, Olive sought to share those life-changing beliefs with those she met—no matter their title. That courage and conviction led her to sharing the Book of Mormon with the likes of Elvis Presley and Queen Elizabeth.
Lead image of Olive and George Osmond with three of their children (left to right) Marie, Jimmy, and Donny in Stockholm, Sweden, circa 1966. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.
Performing on the same stage as Elvis Presley is something not many Latter-day Saints can claim. But having notes and personal bouquets delivered backstage from the King of Rock himself? That's something few in the world can claim.
In a post on their family blog, Alan Osmond recalled the first time he heard the code "The Boss is Upstairs"—a phrase that meant Elvis Presley was watching their show from the light booth. Nervous, but undaunted, the Osmonds all donned their white jumpsuits while performing a routine that incorporated karate learned from Chuck Norris himself.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.
After the show, Elvis greeted the Osmonds backstage. "One of the first things he said was, 'Hey, I love the jumpsuits!'" Alan recalls.
And that was the beginning of a long friendship between the Osmonds and Elvis Presley. "Elvis was particularly interested in talking to our parents and he especially loved meeting my mother, Olive, and gave her a big hug," Alan remembers in the blog post. "Elvis mentioned to her how much he missed his mother who had passed away."
But while the King gave the family encouragement, advice, and bouquets shaped like guitars, Olive Osmond gave him something even more priceless in return.
During Olive's funeral, Merrill Osmond shared a story about his mother giving Elvis Presley a copy of the Book of Mormon. The two shared many telephone conversations during Presley's life, and Olive told Merrill that one of her first tasks in heaven would be to look up Elvis to see how he was doing, according to the Deseret News.
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But Olive's missionary work didn't stop with friends who happened to be famous rock stars. She also had the courage to share her faith with the Queen of England herself.
Jimmy Osmond, the youngest of the clan, recalled just how strict, intimidating, and frightening it was preparing to meet the Queen. "All this protocol," he said in an article with KSL. "'Don't raise your hand unless she raises hers. Don't speak to her unless she speaks to you first;' and of course, she came to me first, and I said, 'Hello, Mrs. Queen.'"
Image of Jimmy Osmond meeting the Queen for the first time from KSL.
Later, Jimmy recalled his mother handing the Queen a Book of Mormon, saying, "I want to give you my most treasured possession."
"Later on, I performed for her majesty once again with my brothers," Jimmy continued in the article, "and she stopped and talked to me for a second—she normally doesn't do that. And she said, 'I remember your mother, and I still have . . . your Mormon Bible.'"