Donny Osmond's Parents 'Were Told to Stop Having Kids' after Their Two Sons Were Born
The musical Osmond’s make up an entire family that grew up performing and singing, but Donny Osmond once told how none of that would have happened had his parents listened to advice after their first two children were born.
During an interview Donny Osmond had with Chet Cooper and Dr. Gillian Friedman from Ability Magazine, the topic inevitably turned to Donny’s siblings and what life was like for them growing up.
Donny's oldest siblings were born deaf
While it is no secret that Donny’s two oldest siblings, brothers Virl and Tom were born deaf, such an impairment got seen very differently during the 1940s than it did in later years. He said:
“My oldest brother was born 85 percent deaf, and the next was born worse with almost total deafness. My parents were told by everyone, doctors included, to stop having kids. Thank God, they at least went as far as seven!”
Because they were not born entirely deaf, their parents, Olive and George decided not to treat them any differently, and they learned to talk and communicate verbally. Even though their parents’ indifference aided Virl and Tom in many ways, it also had its drawbacks.
Their impairments weren’t discovered until Virl turned 2 and Tom 1. Their parents refused to accept it and made adjustments as they actively participated in their learning.
Their parents didn't provide the care they needed
Virl wrote in a letter for PEOPLE about dealing with the handicap:
“They spent many hours working with us on our speech and encouraged us to try many experiences that some educators of the deaf considered foolish or useless.”
Tom, whose disability is worse than Virl’s, got sent to the Utah Schol for the Deaf, while Virl attended a regular public school which he described as a “mixed blessing.” Virl explained:
“Where before I was sheltered and protected, in public school, I had to face the harsh reality that I was different. I was fitted with hearing aids. Not today’s subtle, behind-the-ear models, but ones with big plugs and wires. I was taunted and mocked, and the plugs were pulled out of my ears again and again. It was painful.”
Virl found refuge on their farm in Ogden, Utah between his family, the only place he felt “free from criticism and embarrassment.”
People usually humiliated
When people met Donny and Marie while Virl and Tom were around and learned of their deafness it usually ended in humiliation for them as Virl elaborated, “The fans will politely shake our hands, usually speak to us too loudly, give us a look of pity and then quickly go back to our brothers and sister.”
But for Tom and Virl, the hardest part was the fact that their impairments were not their fault, or anyone’s for that matter as they were born that way.
Despite their hardships, Tom became a printer at the family’s television production center in Orem, while also teaching sign language at Brigham Young University, with four children of his own.
Leading a nearly normal life, Virl became a father of seven and entered the IT industry as a graphics designer while he studied further in video editing and animation.
Their nephew, Justin Osmond, also diagnosed with 90% hearing loss at the age of 2, benefited greatly from modern-day technology and 12 years of intense listening and speech therapy.
He can both hear and speak and astonished everyone when he, against all the odds, learned to play several instruments and even received the prestigious sterling scholarship in music award.
Sadly Olive and George, who did everything they could to help their children reach their full potential, died in 2004 and 2007 respectively but left behind an honorable legacy - the Osmond Foundation. It later became the Children’s Miracle Network, which is the largest charitable foundation of it's kind aiding children’s hospitals worldwide.
Donny and Marie kept the family’s musical torch high from the 1970s when the charismatic singing duo became adored by millions.
After several years of magical performances, they bagged a Flamingo Las Vegas residency which ran for 11 years before Donny and Marie announced the end of their run in March 2019.