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Behind the Smile

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Until recently, Marie Osmond’s life seemed as bright as her trademark glittering smile. Last year she made a triumphant return to television cohosting daytime’s Donny and Marie show, which she tapes in L.A., a short flight from the $290,000 two-story stucco getaway house in Orem, Utah, she shares with her seven children and her second husband, Brian Blosil, an independent record producer.

But the pristine image of cheerful contentment—an image that seems a patented portion of the family name—has since been shattered. On Jan. 17, Osmond, 40, revealed she was separating from Blosil after 13 years of marriage. Though the announcement came with a description of the split as “amicable,” even family members were caught off-guard. “This is sort of coming out of left field,” confessed Kevin Sasaki, a spokesman for four of her brothers, who perform as the Osmonds, and her parents, George, 82, and Olive, 74. Osmond’s Utah neighbors also had seen nothing amiss. “They had a family party on New Year’s Eve and were as friendly as they usually are,” said one, adding that over the holidays “they were together as a couple and seemed very happy.”

For months, however, Osmond herself had been anything but happy. Just weeks after giving birth on July 6 to her third child (she has two by Blosil and one by her first husband, former Brigham Young University basketball player Steve Craig; she has adopted four others), Osmond was seized by a postpartum depression so severe that it drove her sobbing into a closet at her Los Angeles home. In early August she handed over her newborn son Matthew to her nanny and took off. Heading up the California coast in her car, Osmond got a call from Blosil, 47, who tried to calm her down over the cell phone. He persuaded her to check into a motel, where he met her later that night and quieted her fears. “He’s the kindest man in the whole world,” Osmond recently told McCalls magazine. “He just held me all that night and all the next day.”

Marie’s depression was evident to her brother Donny, 42, who already suspected something was terribly awry. “When she told me about abandoning her kids and her husband, I was shocked,” he said recently. “But in a weird way, it made sense. All the signs were there: fatigue, lack of concentration. Sometimes she said things on our show that didn’t make any sense.” As Marie explained it to Oprah Winfrey recently, “I was driving away from…this perfect person that you have to be.”

Osmond also told Winfrey that her difficult childbirth—a false 20-hour labor followed by 12 to 14 hours of labor before delivery—might have triggered the depression. “That’s when it started,” said Osmond. “It’s like your eyes are in the back of your head, and you just want to close them and never open them. You’re incredibly tired. Not only do you have a new baby to take care of, but, you know, I have six other children as well.”

The turning point came after a talk with her mother, who confessed she had once experienced postpartum depression. “I thought, ‘Good grief, if my mother could go through it and come out, there is hope,'” said Osmond. She briefly took Zoloft to combat the depression (which affects 10 percent of all new mothers), but now she says she relies on hormone therapy. Soon it may be time for a much older treatment: the comfort of kin. “I know they are a close family,” says Sasaki. “I’ve never seen anything like it in the entertainment business. The Osmond family is going to support Marie 100 percent.”