She is still a little bit country. That’s why Marie Osmond, pop icon, leaves the lights of the Las Vegas Strip in her rearview mirror for her version of a wild Saturday night. “My husband got me one of those tiny motor homes, so we can just get away from it all,” said the 58-year-old headliner (with her brother) at the Flamingo.
“My favorite thing to do when I’m not working is to go camping and just get away from man-made places and linger in God-made places.
“A perfect Saturday night off and I’m up in the mountains looking at all the twinkling lights,” she said. And if a fellow camper recognizes her? “I might get, ‘You look an awful lot like Marie Osmond,’ ” she said with a laugh.
On other nights when the spotlight has nothing to do with the moon, you can find the busy working mom on stage with Donny performing in one of the most successful Vegas residencies in history.
Review-Journal: What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Marie Osmond: I do all my shopping on Saturday, so I don’t have to do anything on Sunday except go to church. Sunday is a day of rest and to be with my husband and kids. I’ll have the family at the table and make our meal. Sunday is also my time to go visit people who need a little bit of love in their life including people from my church. I like to check up on the people I love.
With the adrenalin of performing, how do you unwind after a show?
I’ll come home after a 19-hour work day and I’m so tired! But then I’ll catch a second wind and think, “I should clean the kitchen.” When that’s done, I’ll think, “While you’re at it you should really clean the toilets.”
Wait. Marie Osmond cleans toilets?
I’m not someone who was raised to feel entitled. I like to put a reality check on things. Toilet cleaner … check!
What is the appeal of living full-time in Las Vegas?
I’ve been here about 10 years and have lived in Vegas the entire time. I think Celine (Dion) and I are the only two who live here full time. It works for me because I have children and they go to school. It’s nice to have what I call a stay- at-home job. I get to do what I love and the family is settled in one place. There’s a beautiful consistency of Mom being home. I’ve spent so much time on the road that at this stage of my life, it’s lovely to be able to perform and then go home and sleep in my own bed. It’s actually a great gift.
How do you spend your free time?
The key words here would be “free” and “time.” There’s not much of it, but I do love being with my kids and grandkids. We live in an area that’s very family and community oriented. You might find me at Whole Foods or shopping.
Vegas is shopping heaven. I’m a big online shopper, but I think the Vegas stores are great.
Is it hard to go incognito?
It’s lovely when people recognize me, but it’s no big deal. There are a lot of celebs in Vegas. There are times I might wear a wig and I’m recognized less. But it’s really good because people are very kind to me.
What is the best lesson you learned from your mother, Olive?
We all go through hard things and she taught me to cope. As parents now, we’re so quick to fix things for our kids. My mother and father said, “The most important thing we can teach you is how to fail, so you can learn how to pick yourself back up.” This generation of young people might go into their room and hide when things get rough. Boy, that wasn’t allowed in our family. You faced it and moved on. Mom would say, “Put on your big-girl panties. No baby diapers allowed.”
What’s the parenting vibe in your house?
I tell my kids, “The greatest thing I can give you as a parent is to learn how to work hard and pick yourself back up.” I also say, “My job is not to have you live in my house forever. My job is to teach you, so someday you can live in your own house.”
You’ve been performing for over five decades. How do you keep that excitement level up?
If you don’t have that excitement, then you should retire. You don’t do anyone a service if you walk through a show. It doesn’t matter if you’re sick, your job is to go out there and make those people happy. They paid a lot of money. After the shows, I truly do enjoy meeting people and hearing their stories. As for the shows, Donny and I try to shake it up, so people see new things. We want to keep it fresh. The brand is a big one. We have people come to Vegas to see us from Japan, China, Australia and all over the world. It’s so important that we entertain them.
Beyond the music and a great stage show, why do Donny and Marie have such a beloved place in pop culture?
I really do think that people watch the old series and come to see us in Vegas because they’re longing to remember a happier time in their lives.
What’s the key to working with your sibling?
Donny and I are the only siblings who have worked together this much. I think it comes down to a mutual respect. Plus, we know each other so well. Take the other night in Vegas. There are union laws here. It’s important to end the show on time. We were nine minutes over and had to make up the time. Donny and I didn’t even talk about it. We just started editing as we went along. When the curtain came down, we were a good 20 seconds under. Donny and I laughed. We can communicate without words.
Fill in the blank. One way to really get under Donny’s skin is …
I’ll just say I’m a better singer!
Tell us about the special Osmond event coming up.
On my birthday, Oct. 13, I’m doing a special show in Hawaii with my brothers. I’ve been very lucky to work with Donny for 10 years in Vegas. I’m getting the original brothers onstage — Merrill, Alan, Wayne and Jay — for that special show. It will be so much fun. There would have never been a Donny or Marie without the originals who started it for all of us. I treasure all of my brothers.
What is the secret to looking ageless?
I think genetics has a lot to do with it. Donny and I are aging well. We never drank. Never smoked. We try to eat well and we exercise. Those things really do pay off in the long run. You just have to take care of yourself and we try.
Was losing weight for you key?
I know I would have aged differently with 50 extra pounds. Even my camping trips would have been different with extra weight because I wasn’t as mobile. I lost that weight because my son came to me and said, “Mom, we need you and you won’t be around.” Women in my family die of heart disease. I took his words seriously because I’m like so many women. We don’t do things for ourselves, but we sure do them for our kids. Start today. Take care of yourself. And don’t ever give up.
Finally, do “goody-goody” girls get the last laugh?
(Laughing) Well, I’ve always said that if being a goody-goody means you’re trying to be a good person, an ethical woman who loves her family, then count me in. I try to bless people’s lives and give back. If that’s a goody-goody, then it’s an honor to be called one.