• Little Jimmy Osmond was the youngest member of the world-famous musical group, The Osmonds.
• He achieved his first gold record in 1968 at the age of five and was the first member of the family to do so.
• Jimmy was the first Osmond to obtain an honorary doctorate of arts and humanities in 2015.
• He suffered a stroke in 2004 due to a congenital heart condition that went unnoticed until then.
• Jimmy suffered another stroke in 2018 while performing in a theatrical production, but is now recovering with the help of his family.
The youngest Osmond – James Arthur Osmond, also known as Little Jimmy Osmond – has been known to the world since 1967, at which point he was only four years old. His siblings became noticed in the early 1960’s, eventually forming the world-famous musical group known as The Osmonds, consisting of Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie and finally Jimmy Osmond. All of them, except James, were raised in Ogden, Utah USA.
Jimmy didn’t just take the fame that was guaranteed by birth, though – he built his own little empire as a rather successful entrepreneur with a visionary mind, that allowed for great accomplishments in the music industry. James’ first personal achievement came at the tender age of five, when he achieved his first gold record in 1968 for the song entitled “My Little Darling,” which he sang in Japanese. He was the first member of the family to obtain that reward, which showed everyone just how much promise the child held.
From rags to riches
Parents George Virl Osmond, Sr. and Olive Osmond were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and resided in Jimmy’s birthplace with their nine children. The brothers began performing barbershop music for neighborhood audiences in 1958, so as to help support Virl and Tom, both of whom had a significant hearing impairment since birth.
The brothers eventually caught the attention of Lawrence Welk, who invited them to audition, but was eventually unable to follow through. However, while on that trip, they visited Disneyland, where Tommy Walker saw them performing with the Dapper Dans on Main Street, and hired them for a segment in the film entitled “Disneyland After Dark,” which aired in 1962.
This led to an invitation from Andy Williams’ father Jay, to appear in his program entitled “The Andy Williams Show,” which ran from 1962 to 1969, during which time Donny joined the group, making it a 5-member band prior to the induction of Marie and Jimmy as well. After this, they concentrated on popular music instead of variety shows, so they signed with UNI records in 1967, releasing a single record with “Flower Music” on the front and “I Can’t Stop” on the flip side before eventually achieving fame in 1971.
Jimmy himself made history when he released “Long Haired Lover from Liverpool” in 1972, as it earned him The Guinness Book of World Records honor for being the youngest performer to have a #1 single on the UK Singles Chart. His success continued with acting roles such as Troy Phillips in two episodes of “Fame”, and Tom D. Fitzgerald in the film “The Great Brain.”
In 1985, Jimmy met Manuel Montoya at A&M Records, which led to his only Spanish recording, entitled “Siempre Tu.” This opened up opportunities for him to tour Latin American markets, including Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Chile. In addition to often performing with his older siblings on stage and television, Jimmy served as a juror at the 1986 edition of OTI Festival.
He also took over the operations of Andy Williams Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri, where he still produces and books shows today. The 2012 Osmonds’ album “I Can’t Get There Without You” featured Jimmy on lead vocals, which marked the first time that he sang lead instead of Merrill, who usually held that role during their heyday in early 1970s.
Throughout the course of his career, the youngest Osmond had the opportunity of meeting some of the greatest names ever to have graced his line of work, including Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.
Furthermore, Jimmy starred in musical theater productions such as “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, and “Boogie Nights at Grand Theatre Blackpool,” among others. He has also appeared in several British TV shows, including “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!,” “All Star Family Fortunes,” “Come Dine With Me,” “All Star Family Fortunes,” and “Everybody Dance Now,” totaling 75 celebrity appearances from 1975 to 2018.
In 2014 Jimmy authored the children’s picture book entitled “Awesome Possum Family Band,” which was semi-autobiographical. 2015 saw him honored with Iowa Wesleyan University’s award of an honorary doctorate of arts and humanities – making him the first Osmond family member to receive this distinction, delivering keynote commencement speech on 9 May.
A scare out of nowhere
In 2004 Jimmy was busy working on his own TV show entitled “Jimmy Osmond’s American Jukebox” in a studio in Missouri. The threat had been looming over his physical wellness since the day he was born, but only manifested itself when he turned 40 years of age.
It turned out that Little Jimmy was suffering from a rather typical and commonplace congenital heart condition, that resulted in a stroke. As he told the Daily Mail in 2009, a whole five years after it occurred, there was nothing to be done about the sudden onset of symptoms that took everyone by surprise.
He stated that ‘It came on so fast and I could hardly see – it was as if I had tunnel vision. Somehow, I managed to get to the end of the show. How I drove home I have no idea and I shouldn’t have done, because I couldn’t even see the lines in the middle of the road, but I was so desperate to get back to my family and go to bed.’
As was to be expected of someone exacerbating the bodily shock brought on by a stroke through added physical exertion as well as mental exhaustion, the next day was one of the worst in Jimmy’s life. He said ‘The following morning I tried to get up, but felt so dizzy that I fell over. My vision was still bad and this terrible headache was gnawing away right at the base of my skull.’
Jimmy still remained relatively cool-headed even with the panic beginning to set in, suggesting to his wife Michelle that he’s probably only having a rather intense migraine as a result of overworking himself in the preceding weeks. Fortunately, she still convinced him to go for a check-up anyway, having him enter the car that she subsequently drove to a local hospital for his brain scan.
It was soon stated by the doctors that the issue on hand was indeed far more serious than a severe headache, revealing a stroke as the actual reason for Jimmy’s discomfort. It was caused by small clots or emboli blocking the blood flow in extremely thin vessels, and depriving parts of the brain of oxygen. Thankfully, there was no lasting damage, although he still suffered from headaches and difficulty reading for the next four to five years.
The idea that Jimmy was overworked, although inaccurately used to describe the reason for his supposed headache, had plenty of merit to it. He had indeed been dedicating too much time to his career for a lengthy period preceding the stroke. Osmond stated ‘I had been working on 12 shows a week and other projects, so I never really had the time to relax. I’d been feeling pretty exhausted, and assumed that the stroke had been something to do with that.’
That said, the risk of a stroke was still supposed to be rather low, as the singer never had any previous heart-related issues, at least to his knowledge. He said ‘I never had high blood pressure, high cholesterol or any other problems that could have given any clues as to why I would have a stroke. The doctors decided to take a look at my heart.’
Thus, Jimmy underwent a bubble echocardiogram – an ultrasound scan of the heart that is followed by an injection of a bubble of saline into the arm, which allows for blood flow inside of the chest cavity to be much easier to monitor. The procedure revealed something rather unexpected – a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO), which is a hole in the septal wall serving as the barrier between the heart’s right and upper left chambers. It was identified as a birth defect that went by without detection, until the test was complete, as Jimmy had never been given an echocardiogram despite having gone through numerous insurance medicals.
No abnormal heart sounds were detected during these examinations, and his blood pressure and cholesterol levels were normal. The PFO was likely present since birth, but went unnoticed due to its small size – about the size of a cent coin. It can cause problems such as stroke or migraine headaches if left untreated, so Jimmy was lucky to have found it prior to suffering any permanent injury.
He said ‘My doctor explained that over time, tiny blood clots that he described as ‘particles’ had travelled from my heart to my brain, eventually forming a large clot. and this is what had caused the stroke. He warned me that unless I had immediate surgery to close the hole then I was at risk of having another stroke, or worse.’
It turns out that Jimmy was simply unlucky to have the condition, as British Heart Foundation’s June Davison pointed out that ‘People don’t usually have symptoms, but one of the biggest risks associated with having a PFO is the risk of a stroke and those who have PFOs are more likely to have migraines. We do know that two in 100 babies are born with it.’
A minute contraption called an occluder was then carefully placed inside of the singer’s heart by insertion through a blood vessel from the groin area. This device automatically opens and shuts on both of its sides, which allows it to be pulled by the blood pumping into the heart’s wall, eventually closing the hole caused by PFO. The heart’s regenerative tissue eventually engulfs the collider, and thus heals itself with no difficulties.
The return of Osmonds’ suffering
Everything seemed to go for the better, and the potential problem stayed that way for over a decade. However, disaster struck once again on 27 December 2018, when true drama broke out at UK’s prestigious Birmingham Hippodrome. While pantomiming as Captain Hook in the theater’s staging of “Peter Pan,” Jimmy found himself in a situation similar to that in 2004, except he was then well-aware of what was really happening.
Another stroke was diagnosed not long after the then-55-year-old singer was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. In order to immediately address public concerns on the matter, the theater’s spokesperson said that ‘He’s grateful for all the well wishes and will be taking time out in the new year.’ Osmond was promptly replaced in the play by fellow actor Darren Day.
Fiona Allan, the chief executive and artistic director of the Birmingham Hippodrome, had more to add on the matter, making it obvious that the US superstar was indeed dearly missed by all of his coworkers. She said ‘Everyone here at Birmingham Hippodrome has been deeply saddened to hear of Jimmy’s sudden illness.’
Furthermore, she added that ‘Jimmy loved being a part of the Hippodrome’s well-renowned panto, and his portrayal of Captain Hook was both dastardly and heartwarming. He won the adoration not just of our audiences, but also of all our staff. We all send Jimmy and his family very best wishes for a speedy recovery.’
— Jimmy Osmond (@jimmyosmond) December 23, 2018
Although Jimmy himself is yet to appear in front of the camera since then, his brother Merrill was kind enough to inform the audiences about his brother’s situation in 2020. He told interviewer Alex Belfield that everything is under control, stating ‘You know, it’s great. I’ve seen him about two times now and Jimmy had his issue there, but you know what, he’s getting better every day.’
Merrill even made a point out of the fact that the hiatus is actually rather enjoyable for Jimmy, explaining ‘And the thing about it which is really cool is he’s never had a chance to spend that kind of time with his family, like he’s doing now. They’re going places, Jimmy runs like crazy now, jogs everywhere.’
The audience even got to find out that the youngest Osmond has a brand new hobby as well – painting. According to Merrill’s account, it looks like his little brother is getting better by the day. This is expected to be ongoing in the last month of 2022 as well, which, although still keeping the celebrity out of the limelight, gives fans much less to worry about in the long run.