Homespun Marie Osmond Out-Waltzes the Stars

Like the porcelain dolls she sells on the QVC shopping network, Marie Osmond is an all-American sweetheart. But can she waltz off with the trophy on "Dancing With the Stars" on dimples alone?

This mother of eight from the Mormon mega-family of entertainers got her start as a toddler on television's Andy Williams Show in 1963.

Now, at 48, Osmond has fended off better dancers to reach the season finale of television's popular reality show "Dancing With the Stars." But it's fan power, rather than talent, that's keeping her afloat, say critics.

Monday night, dressed as one of her dolls and dancing like a windup toy, Osmond earned seven out of a possible 10 points from judges — the lowest score of the night.

"This is the loopiest thing I've ever seen," said judge Bruno Tonioli. "It's like Baby Jane and the Bride of Chucky!"

In the Oct. 30 episode, Osmond beat out "Cheetah Girls" star Sabrina Byron, who had earned a perfect 10 from the judges.

The homespun singer has been buoyed by her devoted fan base -- many of them baby boomers -- who have watched her faint on stage and weather personal tragedies. Osmond's favorite charity, Children's Miracle Network, has publicly urged its supporters to "cheer on" the star.

Osmond and her partner, professional dancer Jonathan Roberts, have waltzed past nine other couples, despite lower dance scores by the judges. Now she will compete against Spice Girl Melanie Brown and Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves.

"I think Marie's fan base has been growing since she was a kid," said show host Tom Bergeron. "She came in with a sizable fan base, but she's proven herself to be a talented dancer. Sadly, things happened to her on a personal level that only strengthens that base and gives her a collective hug."

Open About Her Personal Life

During the show, Osmond openly has talked about her divorce, the death of her father and her son's struggle with drugs.

But some critics say Osmond's personality has trumped her dancing ability, and voting could start to look like another similar reality show, "American Idol."

Earlier this year, seemingly tone-deaf contestant Sanjaya Malakar triggered a campaign to rig the vote in his favor when radio host Howard Stern urged voters to support Sanjaya for laughs. Sanjaya was eventually voted off "American Idol."

Osmond has been largely buoyed by her earlier fame. Dubbed "the youngest Osmond brother," she was only 13 when her pop song "Paper Roses" topped the music charts. A weekly television variety series with her brother, "Donny and Marie," ran from 1976 to 1981.

In 1991, Osmond developed a successful collectible doll brand. Her 2001 book, "Behind the Smile: My Journey Out of Postpartum Depression" opened her personal life to fans, and by 2007, she made a public comeback on "Dancing With the Stars."

It was Osmond's ability to connect with viewers that sealed her popularity, according to media critics.

"She has the spirit of attacking dancing with a can-do attitude," said Julie Hinds, a pop culture writer for the Detroit Free Press. "We know a lot about her life's ups and downs, and some women and fans can identify."

The show's judges give Osmond a score based on several factors, including technical ability. Viewers vote by phone or text message, and the scoring is divided evenly between both judges and viewers.

Each week a contestant is dismissed, and when two couples remain, the final dance-off determines who wins the trophy.

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