A Hit as a Miss

UPDATED 08/08/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/08/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

TWO DAYS AFTER WINNING THE title of America's Junior Miss 1994, Amy Osmond, 17, oldest child of Wayne Osmond of the six singing Osmond Brothers (and niece of Uncle Donny and Aunt Marie), sits in a Manhattan restaurant, sampling escargot for the first time. "I've always wanted to try these," she says animatedly. "How do I eat them?"

Her demeanor is what you would expect from a Junior Miss: perky, polite and proper. It's also nowhere near the image that comes to mind when Amy's brother Steve, 15, thinks of his big sis'. To him, she's a special young woman who can swallow spaghetti and make it come out her nose. Now that's entertainment. "Amy likes to gross people out," volunteers Steve. "She's a lot like my dad—crazy, funny. She likes life, and she likes to try everything."

This mix of elegance and exuberance stood Amy in good stead on July 23 at the Mobile, Ala., pageant, where a spirited rendition of "Moto Perpetuo" on the violin swept her to a first-place finish. It also made her a member of a remarkable sorority: Junior Misses include Diane Sawyer (1963), Kathie Lee Gifford (1971) and Deborah Norville (1976). Amy's mother, Kathleen, 41, was a former Junior Miss runner-up who later gave up her Miss Utah crown to marry Wayne, now 42, in 1971.

"She didn't put any pressure on me at all," says Amy, who got a little pre-pageant advice from her mom. "She taught me how to stand up straight, and we went through practice interview questions at home. I also used to practice walking in the kitchen with heels. I've never been a heels person. I'd fall in them all the time."

After her victory, Amy received a phone call from Chicago: It was Donny, 36, who had nipped out during breaks in his performance in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to watch Amy's win on NBC. "Hi, Uncle Donny!" she hollered into the phone. "I didn't mess up!"

Things didn't go quite as smoothly in 1982, when she made her debut as a young Marie in the TV movie Side by Side, the story of the Osmond family. A lasting memory from that experience, she says, was "throwing up in the backseat of the car on the way" to the studio. Little wonder, then, that she decided early on to be an obstetrician rather than go into showbiz. "I always thought being a physician was really a noble profession, because you are helping save people's lives," she says. Back home in Bountiful, Utah, her family—she has another brother, Greg, 13, two sisters, Sarah, 11, and Michelle, 7, and 45 Osmond first cousins—always looked on entertaining "as just a job, nothing special," she says. "I wanted to be more well-rounded." And so she is. The top-ranked student in her high school class and a National Merit Scholar, Amy will attend Brigham Young University in the fall. She played second violin in the all-state orchestra, is a CPR-certified candy striper and plans to work as a nurse to put herself through medical school. (The $33,000 in cash and prizes from her Junior Miss win will help.) But wait, there's more: Amy was also elected her school's Christmas Queen and Miss Personality. In rare off hours, she's a fan of Mariah Carey and Home Improvement—and of Ross Perot and Hillary Clinton ("I admire them for their innovative ideas").

Amy says her Mormon faith is the driving force in her life. "If I had to choose between a family and a career, I'd definitely choose family because that's part of the church's teaching," she says. Her parents, of course, are extremely proud of her. "She's not a phony—she's sweet, she's precious, she's a virgin, and I think these are most of the qualities a guy would like to find in a companion," says Wayne. "As long as there are people like Amy, who represent the values God entrusted us with, the world will be a better place."

SUSAN SCHINDEHETTE
TOBY KAHN in Manhattan and ALYSIA TATE in Chicago

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