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As the wife and manager of heavy metal legend Ozzy Osbourne, the diminutive Sharon Osbourne forged a towering reputation in the music industry as one not to be trifled with well before her profanity-laced family antics became a fixture on the popular reality series, "The Osbournes" (MTV, 2002-05). Faced with the daunting prospects of being a woman in an man's world and managing a drugged-addled rocker without a band or a dime to his name, Osbourne used her sharp tongue and hair-trigger temper to pull him out of his financial morass to create a nearly $68 million fortune, an enviable accomplishment for someone who struggled daily with the demons that consumed both herself and her husband. She did this by introducing the world to the behind the scenes chaos of her family on "The Osbournes," and even allowed cameras to continue rolling as she battled a serious form of colon cancer. Having recovered stronger than before, Osbourne appeared as one of the hosts on the British version of "The X Factor" (ITV, 2004- ) while sitting initially alongside Piers Morgan and David Hasselhoff, and later with Howard Stern and Howie Mandel on "America's Got Talent" (NBC, 2006- ). Regardless of her tough persona that more often than not rattled more than a few cages, Osbourne remained a powerful figure in the music industry, a steady presence on reality television, and a matriarchal figure at home.
Born Sharon Arden on Oct. 9, 1952, in London, England, Osbourne was reared from the get-go in the music industry. Her father was Don Arden, the notoriously confrontational manager of popular musical acts. Some of Osbourne's earliest memories were of Bill Haley and Sam Cooke, whom she fell madly in love with at age seven. But no matter what her father did, Osbourne would have followed in his footsteps: he could have been a butcher for all she cared. Arden later managed the legendary heavy metal group Black Sabbath, in which Ozzy Osbourne was the main musical and macabre attraction. At the time, Ozzy was married to another woman and had two children. Not that it mattered, because, by her own admission, Osbourne was "fat, fat, fat" to the point of having no man take an interest in her, let alone date her. In 1979, Ozzy was fired from Black Sabbath for abusing drugs and Sharon Osbourne found her future husband bottomed out from booze and drugs at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Instead of seeing a complete mess of a human being, Osbourne saw in Ozzy a man with talent and a great heart. Almost simultaneously, she began dating and managing the musician that most thought was washed up. It was an uphill battle right away, starting with having to contend with her father, from whom she stole Ozzy as a client. On a visit to Arden's home, Osbourne was attacked by his dogs, causing her to miscarry a pregnancy. The two never spoke again.
Osbourne quickly turned her husband's career around and transformed herself into a woman to be respected and even feared. Many in the industry were gleeful with the thought that Osbourne would fail, but much to their chagrin, she did not. Instead, she turned Ozzy into a near-instant success with the release of Blizzard of Ozz in 1980. The album peaked at No. 21 on the U.S. charts and seven in the U.K. Her husband followed up with Diary of a Madman, which managed to top its predecessor. Success, however, did not come easily. Being a woman in a man's world forced Osbourne to be a bit more strident in her approach to business, sometimes screaming at executives or, in one case, kneeing a promoter in the groin after he defaulted on payments due. Another company reportedly had their offices trashed after Osbourne learned that they were selling illegal Ozzy merchandise. She later returned to collect her car keys, fully embracing her reputation for notorious behavior early on.
Osbourne had to contend with more than just pushy executives and promoters; she also dealt with the daily struggle of being married to an alcoholic and drug abuser. In 1989, their marriage hit a savage low when Ozzy tried to strangle her to death while drunk. After spending a week in jail, Ozzy returned home determined to kick the habit. It would be a constant struggle from then on, but through it all, Osbourne stuck by her husband and guided his career to new heights. In 1996, she helped launch Ozzfest, the highly successful heavy metal tour that usually featured her husband as the headlining act. In the era of Lolapalooza and Lilith Fair, Ozzfest became one of the top-grossing multi-act music festivals that were sweeping the nation. Along with managing her husband's career, she would also steer other hot acts such as the Smashing Pumpkins, business relationships that would often end in bitter fallings-out.
In 1999, Osbourne decided she had enough of being 225 pounds and underwent a new procedure called Lap-Band, a surgery that put a band around her stomach, forcing her to reduce the amount of food she could eat. With a newly slim figure, Osbourne appeared with her family - sans eldest daughter Aimee - in the MTV reality hit, "The Osbournes" (2002-05), after an earlier appearance on the video network's home tour show first revealed the family's TV-friendly outrageousness. The show, which depicted the Osbourne family as is in their Beverly Hills environs, bleeped-out curse words and all, became the music channel's most successful original series to date and won an Emmy in 2002 for Outstanding Nonfiction Reality Program. Meanwhile, Ozzy, Sharon, son Jack and daughter Kelly became instant media darlings, both hailed and derided for their eccentricities, excesses and undeniably tight family bond.
Despite her mega-success after decades of battling the music industry, her husband's internal demons and her own weight problem, Osbourne was not free from misfortune. In 2002, she was diagnosed with colon cancer, which plunged Ozzy back into an alcohol-fueled abyss and influenced her hard-partying teen son Jack to attempt suicide with pills and absinthe, resulting in a highly publicized stint in rehab. In an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters, Osbourne expressed her desire to end "The Osbournes" after its second season, much to the surprise of her family, who knew nothing about her feelings. And in 2003, Osbourne filed battery charges against talent agent Renee Tab after she was allegedly struck by Tab at a trendy L.A. restaurant over a necklace won in a raffle at the Osbourne's annual New Year's Eve party. Tab in turn filed charges against Osbourne, alleging she was struck by the music matriarch. The show continued on, however, despite her pronouncement to Walters, when Osbourne signed on for a third successful season with MTV, with an additional twenty episodes ordered for season four.
Even before the third season, Sharon launched a second television venture, the syndicated daytime chat-fest "The Sharon Osbourne Show" (2003-04) which typically featured Osbourne cavorting with fellow celebrities or tackling social issues both serious and silly. It debuted to respectable ratings, but five months after the debut, the plug was pulled due partially to plummeting viewership and partially to the host's desire to help her husband mend from a near fatal ATV accident in England. Osbourne would return to television with her stint as one of the, surprisingly warmer, more gentle of judges on "America's Got Talent" (NBC, 2006- ). Meanwhile, the Osbourne family was back onscreen in "Osbournes: Reloaded" (Fox, 2009), a variety show that consisted of sketches, skits and audience participation, all of which were crass or low-brow in nature. Though originally slated for six episodes, the series was duly cancelled after just one airing amidst an affiliate boycott and critical admonition, with some going so far as to call "Osbournes: Reloaded" the worst variety show ever.
Osbourne and company regained a bit of their self-respect when daughter Kelly competed on the ninth season of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ). Right from the start, her daughter was a judges' favorite. With mother and father often watching from the sidelines, she surprisingly made it all the way to the final round, where she faced off against finalists Donnie Osmond and Maya. Unfortunately, she scored the lowest for all four final dances, finishing a respectable third overall in the competition. Continuing to appear in the spotlight, Osbourne joined her husband as a co-host of an episode of the professional wrestling series, "WWE Raw" (The USA Network, 1993- ). She also lost a bit of her warm, gentle side when she insulted "Britain's Got Talent" (ITV, 2007- ) star Susan Boyle, making several less-than-kind comments about her looks. Shrugging off the temporary controversy, Osbourne joined the likes of Sinbad, Cyndi Lauper and disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich for "Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 2004- ) and was often the calm in the eye of the storm. Meanwhile, she joined "The View"-like daytime talk show, "The Talk" (CBS, 2010- ), created by actress Sara Gilbert.
In 2011, Osbourne was the center of a public spat with former co-hosts Leah Remini and Holly Robinson Peete after the two were dismissed, explaining to Howard Stern in no uncertain terms that she thought they were both fakes. Meanwhile, her primary show, "America's Got Talent," struggled in the ratings despite the addition of Stern, who replaced Piers Morgan during the 2012 season. Just weeks after the live finale in July, Osbourne made an ambiguous tweet directed at Stern, seemingly telling him and the public at large that she would not be returning to the show. Stern had previously tweeted that he was mulling his future with the show while declaring Osbourne might not return if she did not receive enough money. Osbourne fired back, saying that money was not the reason she was not returning. Prior to the "AGT" noise, she saw her personal life take another hit when son Jack was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in June. For years, he had been exhibiting symptoms of the disease, including partial blindness, numbness in his legs and various intestinal problems.
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