Her smile is famous the world over. And no one is quicker to laugh. But on Monday night, Marie Osmond's physical and emotional exhaustion after Dancing with the Stars finally got the better of her. The judges' tough comments seemed to take the last bit of fight out of her. "I'm whipped," she says quietly after the show.
Nevertheless, after the show Osmond and her pro partner, Jonathan Roberts, headed to a rehearsal studio to begin work on next week's two new dances. It seemed impossible — foolhardy even — for her to keep practicing after a week spent burying her father and flying to Chicago with the Osmond family to make good on their promise to appear on Oprah. But Osmond refuses to be a quitter. "On so many levels, it's been a tough week," she says. "You would probably gasp if you knew. Not only with my dad, but with personal things going on. I'm very tired and I'm grateful that this week is done."
Osmond, who is also going through a divorce after 20 years of marriage, says she was having trouble earlier in the day preparing for the show. "Donny [Osmond] was an angel," she says. "He came in when he saw that I was having a bit of a difficult time before the show. I have a great family. I have the best brothers in the world. They're not made like that today."
But the day only got worse when she appeared onstage and saw the video package that the producers had put together. Donny Osmond, sitting in the audience, let out a big breath after it was over, looking like he was doing everything in his power not to cry. Says Marie, "The first dance was really tough after I saw that package. But my dad would've wanted me to dance and I gave it the best shot I could."
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to keep the judges at bay. Osmond, who got what she considered mediocre scores for her rumba (24 out of 30) and jive (25 out of 30), ended up with the lowest overall score of the night. "I was feeling kind of bad," she says. "Like, 'What do they want?' I'm kicking my legs up around Jonathan and dropping my hands to the floor. And I felt bad for Jonathan, because he worked his butt off."
The emotional strain is obvious. And the fatigue has to be overwhelming. So Osmond was enormously grateful when help came from an unexpected quarter. "Shirley Ballas [Mark Ballas' mom and a world-renowned ballroom dancer] walked up to us tonight after [the judges] said we didn't have enough content. And she said, 'Not only was there content and footwork, but it was a magnificent performance and you should have gotten 10s.' She said, 'I'm telling you, I'm a pro. And you guys deserved three 10s.' And that comment made me think, 'You know what? I just kicked butt. And for a 48-year-old woman, I kicked good butt.'"
Still, Osmond knows she's running out of gas. "My tank isn't even empty," she says. "It's fumes. But I have to believe that the dancing has been a very healthy diversion and a great gift. Everybody goes through tough stuff, and I've had my share. But the dancing, with the physicality and the endorphins it releases, has been wonderful. I think it's a time of life when things hit you hard and you see what you're made of. What kind of mettle."
Osmond must be made of steel.
Take a spin around the Dancing with the Stars ballroom in our Online Video Guide.
You can find all four exclusive illustrated Heroes covers on newsstands, or try four risk-free issues now! Also, visit our Heroes webpage for a gallery of the covers, an exclusive video of artist Tim Sale at work, and much more.
Send your comments on this feature to firstname.lastname@example.org.