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October 25, 2014

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At Nevada Ballet Theatre gala, Marie Osmond is the last to leave the dance

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Denise Truscello

Marie Osmond makes her way from the Nevada Ballet Theatre’s Black & White Ball at Paris Las Vegas.

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Marie Osmond, reaping the rewards for being named NBT Woman of the Year.

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Marie Osmond accepts her NBT Woman of the Year honor from NBT co-chairs Nancy Houssels, far right, and Wendy Plaster.

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Marie Osmond with a funny man, funnyman George Wallace.

More than an hour after the 600 nattily attired guests had waded from the Paris Las Vegas ballroom that housed the Nevada Ballet Theatre's Black & White Ball, Marie Osmond continued to pose. She exhibited the small talk, too, patiently chatting up total strangers prattling on about watching her co-star in a TV variety show 30 years ago, or who once owned a lunchbox decorated with her grinning face.

And she smiled, of course. Somehow she kept flashing those famous teeth, to the point where it could have been mistaken for a grimace. You watched the line form in a roped-off area at her right and it seemed not to end. More than 100 guests filed in and filed out at a VIP meet-and-greet, snaring a photo, an autograph, and maybe 30 seconds of the youngest Osmond's life.

She has performed plenty of dance moves in her life, most memorably as a third-place finisher on "Dancing With the Stars." But this might have been Marie Osmond's first dance marathon.

"I learned a long time ago that this is part of being an entertainer," Osmond said, finally, after the last fans had been pacified and the clock had edged past midnight. "This, you can't fake. You have to love it. You have to appreciate the energy."

Osmond was honored as this year's NBT Woman of the Year, and supporters of the ballet could hardly complain about her dedication to Saturday night's event. There have been some fairly unpleasant incidents involving past NBT honorees — a hopelessly distracted Paula Abdul being tailed by at least two camera crews in 2007, as Abdul insistently misidentified the organization as "Nevada City Ballet," being one. Bette Midler was criticized for her barely-breaking-a-stride appearance in 2009. But Osmond more fits with those stars on the NBW Woman of the Year list who have displayed some genuine interest in the 38-year-old organization, including but not limited to Phyllis McGuire, Debbie Reynolds, Chita Rivera, Carol Channing, Celine Dion, Ann-Margret, Rita Rudner and Twyla Tharp.

Over the years, Osmond has collected awards and accolades like so many dolls. Asked if she could recall the first honor she received, ever, she paused and said, "I think being 12 years old and having a gold record is a pretty big honor. I was 12 and a half, I think, when I recorded 'Paper Roses.' "

She's more eager to talk of her Children's Miracle Network, which has helped care for millions of ill children since 1982. Many in the audience hadn't even realized until it was announced from the stage that Osmond helped start the foundation, a far greater level of commitment than cutting a check.

But when that fact is expressed, Osmond just shakes her head and says, "It's really all about helping children."

Mostly, honoring Osmond further strengthens the link between her and the city. As she reeled off a series of names she has worked with over the years — calling Groucho Marx a "dirty old man who pinched my butt," and further listing John Wayne, Lucille Ball and Andy Williams — she paused at an unlikely figure: Wayne Newton. It seemed she was going to tear up. Later, she explained, "I love him. Love him. He's a real guy. Wayne is a genuinely giving man, he's grateful that he's still working, he loves the fans and he loves Las Vegas. He was the one who told me how Las Vegas would embrace us, and he was right about that. This has become the ultimate stay-at-home job."

The job is her show, with brother Donny, at Flamingo Las Vegas. The duo have been signed through 2012.

"I will be here until the end of time, I guess," Osmond said, laughing. Then, repeating a comment made from the stage, she said, "For a woman to be in this business for 47 years, is the exception, rather than a rule. It is not easy." Marie Osmond turned 50 last month, a Strip headliner and Las Vegas resident who is just where she wants to be.

More from the show

Announced from the stage by NBT Executive Director Beth Barbre: "Nutcracker" will return to Le Theatre des Arts at Paris for 2010. A shorter run at Paris, NBT's first foray on the Strip, sold really well in '09. ... The event raised enough to replace the dance floor at NBT's rehearsal studios, which carried a $40,000 price tag. ... Two tiny Chihuahuas (are there any other kind?) donated by NBT board member Debra Hood went for $3,500, and a third fetched $1,750. ... Channel 3 entertainment reporter Alicia Jacobs gave the speech introducing Osmond. Might we one day see A.J. accept this award? Hmmm? ... Osmond confirmed that the "Donny & Marie" CD, already available in England, will be released in the U.S. by the end of February. So too will her own solo album of inspirational songs, which includes a baptist choir, the famed Mormon Tabernacle choir, and a healthy variety of music from across the globe. Sounds pretty interesting. ... Working the room, nameplate firmly affixed, was Paul Murad, the "Manhattanizing Las Vegas" author and real-estate magnate who is running as a Democrat for lieutenant governor. ... Myron Martin and Don Snyder of the Smith Center turned out, too, as did UFC fighter and ballet supporter Frank Mir. ... Harrah's, Flamingo, Imperial Palace, O'Shea's and Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon President Rick Mazer attended. He says he's still amazed at the loyalty of the employees who worked under his predecessor, Don Marrandino, who is heading up the company's operations in Atlantic City. ... Marrandino was listed as an honorary chair of the event, but was not in the audience. ... Osmond kept chiding Ubiquitous Robin Leach from the stage; URL was one of the event's hosts, leading the "raise your paddle," segment, which is something we learned how to do while rafting the Snake River in Idaho. ... Vera Goulet, red-headed, worked the room. ... At separate tables were prominent Vegas attorney Frank Schreck and former Prive and OPM exec Greg Jarmolowich (commonly known as "Greg J."). Schreck represented Planet Hollywood when the Gaming Control Board leveled a $750,000 fine against the Prive and shut it down temporarily after uncovering a series of transgressions at the PH hotspot. Jarmolowich eventually left the company. ... Former Gov. Bob List and Republican hopeful Brian Sandoval were in the audience. List has been introducing Sandoval to the Very Important for several months. ... Lon Bronson Orchestra and Mosaic helped keep the program, which lasted nearly five hours, moving at a tolerable pace. At one point, even NBT co-founder Nancy Houssels said, "I'm ready for this thing to be over." By the end of the night she was carrying her shoes.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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