Donny and Marie Osmond were famous long before they opened at the Flamingo.
Still, Las Vegas can take a measure of paternal pride in having hosted the singing siblings in an 11-year residency here that comes ends Saturday.
They were hardly Las Vegas newcomers when they kicked off their residency on Sept. 9, 2008. Marie had headlined Las Vegas in 1973, when she was 13, and her rendition of “Paper Roses” was a national No. 1 country hit. Donny had performed here with his brothers when he was a kid, and they even shared the marquee of the International (later the Las Vegas Hilton and now the Westgate) with Elvis Presley during the ’70s.
In a pre-opening interview with the Review-Journal, Donny recalled how he’d seen “many different incarnations of Las Vegas” since the mid-’60s, when he and his brothers opened for singer Shirley Bassey at the Sahara.
By 1974, Donny and Marie — amazing how all anybody needs to hear is their first names — had performed together at the Tropicana and had a hit, “I’m Leaving It (All) Up to You,” from their debut duo album. Two years later, they premiered in their own ABC variety show, which ran from 1976 to 1979, where they perfected their teasing onstage personas.
So when Donny and Marie opened at the Flamingo in 2008, they and their fans were ready. What was supposed to be a short-term engagement was renewed repeatedly over the years, and their show continued to be a consistent Strip draw even as Las Vegas waited to outlast a recession.
Theirs was a true variety show. Donny, in an R-J interview, once described the siblings’ goal as “getting out there and giving the audience the spectrum, from soup to nuts, so to speak.”
In an odd measure of fandom, the R-J reported in October 2008 that a 67,500-square-foot building wrap that featured the pair’s faces became a popular Strip photo op, and hotel guests even asked for rooms that matched the spaces left for their teeth and eyes.
Their final performance at Flamingo is Saturday, and the Review-Journal’s John Katsilometes has reported that front-row tickets have been going for $4,000 and up, and balcony seats for a more affordable but still impressive $600.