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Marie Osmond on Kobe Bryant, the Young Ambassadors and her (brief) stint at BYU

Marie Osmond on an episode of the CBS talk show “The Talk.”
CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

SALT LAKE CITY — When Marie Osmond spoke with the Deseret News a few weeks ago, plans were still on for her two upcoming shows at Brigham Young University. Those shows were meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of BYU’s traveling performance group the Young Ambassadors, as well as the retirement of the group’s longtime director, Randy Boothe, who has been with the Young Ambassadors for 43 years.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak concerns, however, the shows have since been canceled.

What hasn’t been canceled, though, is this article.

We aren’t one to leave a Marie Osmond interview on the cutting room floor. Osmond told us all about Boothe, and her new gig as a permanent host of CBS’s “The Talk,” and her last interaction with Kobe Bryant before his tragic death. For those who were awaiting those Young Ambassadors concerts, we hope this article — and the video below — is an OK consolation prize.

On Randy Boothe and the Young Ambassadors

Osmond’s connection to the Young Ambassadors are many. One of her managers is a former Young Ambassador. Her next door neighbor used to be in the group. Roger Cook, who helped launch the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals with Osmond, counts himself among the former Young Ambassadors, too.

Indeed, the alumni list for the Young Ambassadors is vast. Many of them have had performing careers on Broadway and beyond.

“The list is incredible, (of) shows that the Young Ambassadors have gone on to do,” Osmond said. “They’ve gone on to be doctors and lawyers and moms and all kinds of things. … They’re disciplined and well-trained, and it takes discipline to be able to do Broadway. Broadway is not for the wimpy.”

Since Boothe, the Young Ambassadors’ longtime director, is soon retiring, these 50th anniversary shows were also Osmond’s chance to honor the man who has impacted so many young performers.

“I would say that Randy Boothe is insane,” Osmond explained with a laugh. “He is just a visionary. And this is like his baby.

“I don’t think I know anybody who has more passion for music, and multiple genres of music, and to teach people how to do it correctly,” she added. “He’s just an incredible man. He’s going to be missed greatly.”

On her BYU stint

Once her BYU concerts with the Young Ambassadors were announced, Osmond said she’d often get asked why she was doing the shows. In part, she has a lot of friends who are former Young Ambassadors themselves. But it was more than just that.

“You know, I did go to BYU,” she added.

“It was during the time that my family were in financial straits, and I was the one that was working,” Osmond continued. “So I had to stop the (classes) and go out on the road. So I don’t think it’s in the records at BYU, but yes, I walked that campus and I went to those classes. … I went to an English literature class, and all the people that went with me need to come forward and verify it.”

On Kobe Bryant

After being a guest host on “The Talk” for nearly a decade, Osmond joined the show full time for its 10th season, beginning last September. She said one of the biggest highlights so far was having Kobe Bryant appear on “The Talk” for its season premiere last year.

“And he had done the show many times before, but to have him come out for that first show was very special,” Osmond said. “He did it because he loved the show. And he talked about his daughter, and he talked about the charities that he had been working on. Just such a down to earth guy … And it was just heartbreaking for us here (when he died).”