SUPPORTING GREAT TELEVISION

Infernal Youth: Donny & Marie Come to Prime Time

In Flashbacks on January 23, 2011 at 12:00 am

The Osmond siblings, seen on a 1979 edition of “Donny & Marie.” (Screen cap)

On January 23, 1976, ABC introduced Donny and Marie, the sequin-studded variety hour starring the squeaky-clean Osmond siblings.

Each week, the teenage hosts exchanged mild putdowns, sang, danced and acted in goofy skits alongside guest stars such as Farrah-Fawcett Majors, who appeared on the debut.

The show was an instant hit, making Friday nights appointment television for kids, who stuck around after Donny and Marie for TV-movies like John Travolta’s Boy in the Plastic Bubble.

“It boggles the mind to think that a boy 18 and a girl 16 can have a network show of their own. I can’t recall any other teen-agers breathing that kind of rarefied air,” critic Joseph Thesken wrote in his review.

Today, teenage TV stars – so novel in 1976 – are common on cable, where performers like Selena Gomez reign supreme.

See for yourself: The four-episode Best of Donny and Marie collection is on DVD.

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