The Celebrity Collector
Today, Marie Osmond has nearly 700 dolls
and her own line of dolls, too.
By Ken Hall
Being the only girl in a family of nine children, Marie Osmond was surrounded
by boys and the toys they played with. So it was only natural that her mother,
Olive, would want to get her started on a doll collection as soon as possible.
"I had many dolls long before I had the motor skills to hold onto them," the
singer said with a laugh. "I loved my dolls as a child. I carried them
Today, Marie's collection comprises nearly 700 dolls. They've
been gathered from various shops around the world and in the U.S., via catalog
and at major doll shows like IDEX and Toy Fair. In 1990, she was approached by
the LL Knickerbocker Company to design and market a line of porcelain collector
dolls. Today, almost 200 dolls have been either produced or marketed for her
"When Lou Knickerbocker first approached me about endorsing a line of
dolls on the QVC Network, I told him I would do it only if I could work with the
dolls in every aspect," Osmond said. "I didn't want to offer a token celebrity
endorsement. He agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history." Marie became
hands-on, participating fully in the creation, development and marketing of the
There's no disputing Osmond's love for dolls. "They were my best
friends as a kid," she said. "I had one with me always. They were a much
appreciated break from playing with my brothers!" She and her mom became veteran
collectors, buying dolls from every country and culture they visited while on
tour. "Looking back, dolls provided a cherished bond that I shared with my
One of the pair's traditions was to give each other a doll each
Christmas ("whether we'd been good or not!"). Before long, Marie's dolls
included examples from Madame Alexander, Barbie (especially vintage and
designer), reproduction dolls, doll figurines, one-of-a-kinds and whimsical art
dolls. She collects other artist's dolls, too, but has slowed somewhat to make
room for her own creations.
"I do have rare dolls," she said, "but I'm not a
person who collects to 'sell.' Rather, I collect a doll because it speaks to me
in some way and represents a little piece of who I am. So I collect to enjoy and
display, and to pass down for posterity. Given that perspective, every doll is
valuable to me." She thrills at getting a "sneak peak" at the new artist dolls
unveiled each year at the doll shows.
Marie has had long and spirited
discussions with her husband about what will ultimately become of the
collection. "We've talked about housing them in a museum, and I haven't ruled
that out," she said, "but I've put that on hold for awhile because I love having
my dolls where I am. Many of them will be passed down to my daughters and to my
son's future wives. We've got a big family!"
When her mother passed away two
years ago, Marie saw to it that the many nieces and nephews who knew and loved
her were given dolls from her collection as keepsakes. Marie's brother Wayne's
daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, is an RN who cared for Olive in her final year. In
honor of that, Marie gave her the original "Olive May" doll, which Marie
sculpted and named after her mother.
"That doll held a place of honor in my
mother's curio cabinet," Marie said. "She openly wept as I placed the doll in
her arms. I can only hope that my own dolls are so lovingly appreciated someday.
That's what I plan for my collection. My mother and both collected dolls with a
genuine passion for them. Dolls were such a sweet part of my childhood. I can't
imagine not enjoying them now."
Today, much of Marie's time is devoted to the
Marie Osmond Fine Porcelain Collector Dolls. The talents of several doll artists
are utilized ("that keeps the line fresh and innovative") and within the
collection there are several themes of dolls, such as the "Four Seasons" series,
which are dolls dressed in seasonal motifs, and the "Velveteen Rabbit" series
(porcelain-faced, plush-body bunnies).
She's especially proud of the "Miracle
Children" series, created in dedication to the many children Marie meets through
her work with the Children's Miracle Network (CMN). Osmond is the organization's
co-founder and co-host. A portion of the proceeds from the "Miracle Children"
dolls is donated to CMN. Support for charitable causes, in fact, is a theme the
recurs throughout the line.
For example, "Adora Belle - Doll for the Cure" is
a 15" collectible introduced in October, and Osmond hopes she will help in the
fight against breast cancer. She is donating all proceeds from the sale of the
doll ($79.95), which she personally designed, to the Fashion Footwear
Association of New York, a non-profit trade association that has raised over $16
million for breast cancer research.
"We have all known women who have bravely
fought this disease," Osmond said. "I feel privileged to contribute in any way
to ongoing research for the cure." Adora Belle is hallmarked on the back of her
neck with Marie's signature and is hand-numbered. She wears a pink dotted Swiss
dress adorned with a pink satin wrap and secured by an official breast cancer
Marie Osmond made her TV debut in 1963, on "The Andy Williams
Show," when the veteran crooner hoisted the three-year-old onto his lap and
introduced her as "the youngest Osmond brother." Ten years later, she scored her
first # 1 hit with the song, "Paper Roses." Until then, The Osmond Brothers
toured as an all-male act. When Marie joined them, the act was renamed The
In the early '70s, Osmond released hit records like "In My Little
Corner of the World" and "Who's Sorry Now," the title track of which went Top
40. She made numerous TV guest appearances, including one with brother Donnie in
which they sang. "I'm Leaving It Up To You," which was released as a single. It
set the stage for The Donnie & Marie Show, which ran from 1976-1981.
program was noted for the lighthearted banter engaged in by the brother and
sister. Viewers will remember that Marie was "a little bit country," while
Donnie was "a little bit rock 'n' roll." Marie's hairstyle was copied by young
women across the country, and her fashion sense was emulated, too. Over time,
Marie became - and still is - a role model for women throughout the world.
1979, Marie starred in the Christmas TV movie, The Gift of Love, with James
Woods and Timothy Bottoms. Following that, she took on the role of her mother,
Olive, for the 1982 TV movie Side by Side: The Story of the Osmond Family. In
1983, she starred in the TV movie I Married Wyatt Earp, with Bruce Boxleitner.
She went on to co-host the TV series, Ripley's Believe It or Not.
mid-'80s, Osmond returned to her roots, recording country music. The 1985 album
There's No Stopping Your Heart featured two #1 country hits: the title track and
Meet Me in Montana, a duet with Dan Seals. In 1986, she scored another #1 hit
with You're Still New to Me, a duet with Paul Davis. Two other albums followed:
All in Love (1988) and Steppin' Stone (1989).
For years, Osmond toured the
country with her "Marie Osmond's The Magic of Christmas" holiday show. In
1994-95, she performed the lead role of Maria in the national touring company of
Rodgers & Hammerstein's The Sound of Music. Two years later, she made her
Broadway debut as Anna in another Rodgers & Hammerstein production, The King
& I. The show got rave reviews.
In 2001, Marie and her husband, record
producer Brian Blosil, bought the company that was manufacturing her porcelain
dolls. They named the new firm Marian ("Mah-RYE-an"). It is expanding to capture
a broad retail presence and will ultimately brand Marie's name into an array of
products, not just dolls. Marie has eight children (some of them adopted) and
over 80 nieces and nephews.
Fans of Marie Osmond may visit the star online at
"Mommy's Girl" is from the "Toddler" series of collectible dolls. Marie
designed her and
she sells for $139.95.
Marie poses with "Baby Adora Holly Belle," a Christmas doll
from her "Adora"
Marie personally signs a doll for
a fan at a doll show.
Marie's "Hershey's Kisses" doll
was designed by her, sculpted by the artist
Ping Lau, and made her debut at Hershey's Chocolate World in Hershey, Pa.
Marie and her dad at a doll signing. Marie often appears at
doll shows and