On Tuesday night at Dancing with the Stars, everybody could finally take a deep breath. It had been 24 hours since Marie Osmond's collapse on stage, the most dramatic and worrisome moment in the show's five-season history. "I've been in this business for 30 years," says host Tom Bergeron, moments before going live. "And I've never seen anything that bad. When she fell, I was looking at the judges and I just felt this whoosh of air, and I looked back and Marie was on the ground."
Bergeron says he spoke to a relative, a nurse, who was watching Osmond closely on screen before she fainted, "and she said that what we were seeing was classic hyperventilation. She just simply couldn't get enough air in."
Osmond, looking chipper again on Tuesday night, says she was fine during Monday's dress rehearsals for the samba. "We had done it six or seven times in a row and no problem," says Osmond. But she knew she was in trouble when she and her partner, Jonathan Roberts, were doing it for real, in front of America. Her feet weren't working properly and her breathing was off. "I was missing little things like hip bumps," she says, "and I never miss those." As she stood before the judges, she says, she jumped up and down several times "to wake myself up."
Osmond believes that a combination of factors led to the collapse. "I have all these allergies," she says. "Everybody backstage is coughing. I don't know if it's the air quality [because of the raging Southern California wildfires] or what. And then we were flying all over the place [she had flown to Niagara Falls for two concert appearances with her brothers just days earlier]. I'm a singer. I know how to breathe. When my breathing gets bad, I do this inhaler thing, but I didn't have it. I think it was all too much."
Despite speculation elsewhere, the problem was not exacerbated by her tight costume, a blue, rhinestone-encrusted minidress. Osmond pulls at the Spandex covering her midsection and it snaps back. There is clearly nothing underneath. "Honey, there's no corseting going on here. Are you kidding?" Her famous sense of humor kicks into high gear. "And of all the outfits, I had to faint in the shortest one."
The relief all around her is evident. "We were so scared," says pro dancer Mark Ballas, who partners with Sabrina Bryan. "It's one of those things where that cold feeling just shoots up your spine." Cameron Mathison was shaken, too. "I was backstage, worried about my shirt not being tucked in. My wardrobe was malfunctioning. And all of a sudden you realize what's happened and your priorities change. I forgot about my shirt. I am just so glad she's all right."
While it was happening, many in the audience wondered whether the collapse would be edited out of the West Coast version of the show, which is taped off the live version that is broadcast to the East Coast. But executive producer Conrad Green says there was never any chance of that. "If we don't show it, it doesn't make sense," says Green. First of all, Osmond hadn't had the feedback from all three judges before the incident. And her condition was referenced throughout the show. So there was no way to sort of patch a new version together. "If something like this happens editorially," says Green, "what can you do? We have to tell the viewers what happened. Marie understands that."
Osmond understands it all too well. But that doesn't take the sting out of losing control. "It's so embarrassing," she says. "But I guess that's what they mean by 'live.'" Still, Osmond has been buoyed by the outpouring of concern. "I've been so overwhelmed by all the responses," she says. "It's so touching."
The whole incident, in fact, has lit her up. She wants to prove she's all right, that's she in this for the long haul, and that she's still got game. "It makes me want to go out and kick some butt," she says. Her next dance with Roberts is the dance of the bullfighter, the paso doble. "I'm going to be the bull." She looks at Roberts. "I'm going to kill him."
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