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A & E Biography – Child Stars: The Osmonds

Airdate: September 9, 1999 (The Arts and Entertainment Cable Network)

Host: Harry Smith

This comprehensive hour-long program profiled the Osmond Brothers from their humble beginnings as a barbershop quartet of boys to their present status as household names in the entertainment field.

Among many recollections, it describes the fateful day when their audition for The Lawrence Welk Show was cancelled and their parents took them to Disneyland to cheer the boys up. That day the boys were brought to the attention of Disneyland entertainment managers by the Dapper Dans.  The men had started an impromptu performance (the boys did a song, then the Dappers, then the boys, etc.) with the youngsters on Main Street after noticing their matching outfits. 

In actuality, Dapper Dan baritone Fred Frank had been in contact with the Osmond's coach Val Hicks and had arranged a meeting at Disneyland with the Dapper Dans and the Osmond Brothers quartet.  Val was hoping that the Dapper Dans could help the Osmonds meet the Disneyland managers.   The Osmonds showed up early, then did a give-and-take performance with the Dapper Dans and were well received by the audience.  T.J. Marker then took the boys up to Disneyland Entertainment Director Tommy Walker's office in City Hall.  Walt Disney happened to be in the park that day, came and saw the Osmonds, and as they say, the rest is history.

In this edition of A & E Biography, the Dapper Dans are seen in Osmond family home movie footage taken at Disneyland. This is the same footage that was seen a few weeks earlier on television in Behind the Music, a program on VH-1 devoted to Donny and Marie Osmond’s stellar careers.

John Borneman (tenor), Roger Axworthy (lead),
Fred Frank (baritone), T.J. Marker (bass)

Osmond family home movie footage of the Dapper Dans performing "Carry Me Back To Old Virginny" on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland. Narrator on A & E Biography: "Before going home, the Osmonds went to Disneyland to lift their spirits. It proved to be a decisive detour. There they met the Dapper Dans, a barbershop quartet performing on Main Street."



Dapper Dan baritone Fred Frank watches as the Osmond Brothers perform on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland. Narrator on A & E Biography: "The Osmonds sang them a song that not only impressed the group, but the crowd that gathered around them."



Walt Disney is seen in Osmond home movie footage coaching the boys in one of their routines as Jay’s moustache keeps falling off, to the delight of Walt.

Narrator on A & E Biography: "The impromptu performance led to an audition for Walt Disney himself. Disney hired the Osmonds to perform at the park that summer, and gave them a spot on Disneyland After Dark, a TV program showcasing the talent there. Among those watching the show was Jay Williams, the father of singer Andy Williams, who had his own TV variety show. The Osmonds reminded Jay of Andy and his brothers when they sang as boys. Realizing the Osmond’s potential, Jay introduced them to Andy."



The Osmond Brothers boys quartet hitting the boards at Carnation Plaza Gardens in Disneyland



Dr. Val Hicks, the Osmond’s vocal coach and arranger is interviewed in a brief scene. Val Hicks on A & E Biography: "The Osmonds were the most special young group I’ve ever seen or heard or worked with. They had this beautiful intonation – the ability to sing in tune. Not flatting, not sharping – singing right on the notes, and barbershop harmony demands that."

Val later worked with the Dapper Dans and became their manager, coach and arranged many of the songs that are still in the Dapper repertoire today.

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