Is the craziest marriage in showbiz finally over? The Osbournes have survived 30 years of booze, brawls and betrayals, but is this now the end
- Sharon's rising fame since Noughties reality show has 'driven pair apart'
- They currently live separated - Sharon in hotel and Ozzy in a nearby flat
- Despite living five minutes apart they have not seen each other for weeks
The Osbourne marriage is a strange and resilient beast. It has survived decades of drink and drug abuse — during Ozzy’s addiction to morphine, Sharon used to find him passed out on the floor with the dog licking his head.
It weathered multiple years when he was unfaithful and he beat her, although she once admitted that she beat him back — ‘with pots, pans, everything’.
It even endured the incident in 1989 when, having drunk four bottles of vodka, the heavy metal rocker tried to strangle his wife.
On the rocks: Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne have had their ups and downs in their 31 years of marriage
The late flowering of Sharon’s career, with her as the abrasive, blinged-up matriarch to his engagingly clueless foil, made The Osbournes a huge hit for MTV 11 years ago.
Back then it allowed her to carve her own niche as a surgically enhanced piranha on panel shows on both sides of the Atlantic.
The reinvention also made them both richer — and busier than ever. But the question today is: has the fame, and her enjoyment of it, unpicked their seemingly indestructible relationship?
According to a report in a Sunday news-paper, the two are leading separate lives. After 31 years of marriage, Sharon is living in a hotel in Beverly Hills while Ozzy is holed up in a small rented flat a couple of miles away.
The report says they haven’t seen each other in three weeks. A source says: ‘They aren’t acting like husband and wife. It is unusual to not even have dinner together when both of them are five minutes apart.’
Wedded bliss: Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne pictured at their 1982 wedding in Hawaii
They are both pictured without their wedding rings. A well-informed friend of Sharon’s says that Ozzy is getting on her nerves — or, as she puts it with a typically brassy flourish: ‘Getting on my new tits.’ (She had a double mastectomy and reconstruction in November last year after discovering she had the gene for breast cancer.)
Sharon’s publicist, Gary Farrow, says only: ‘They are the Osbournes and not the Waltons.’
However, any actual split is denied. The couple have recently bought a home in Los Angeles that is being renovated, which doesn’t suggest they are preparing to call the lawyers in.
But the possibility is not denied. ‘Yes, he has been getting on her nerves and she told me that,’ the friend says. ‘But that’s not the same as saying that it’s all over between them. They have been seeing each other over the past few weeks. Whether they have been intimate — I couldn’t offer a view.
‘Ozzy has rented a place with a recording studio to prepare for going back on the road [with Black Sabbath]. It’s really small and it suits Sharon [who has her own TV show] perfectly to be in a hotel. Their house is not ready to move into yet. But they are having stuff delivered there and they both say that they will move in.’
Another friend says: ‘Sharon and Ozzy do fall out. He is moody at times and it winds her up, and she can have jealous suspicions about him and other women which is the one thing she cannot stand even a suggestion of. He is less medicated and more independent now than he was ten years ago, and he is more his own person — that’s the background to whatever this argument is about.’
Despite all the violence, drugs and infidelity that have marred their 30-year marriage, the Osbournes have been, until now, notably soppy about each other.
Sharon, 60, said last year: ‘He says we are like bread and butter, we fit together. It’s meant to be. I can’t imagine life without my husband.’
Ozzy, 64, always acknowledges that if it wasn’t for Sharon, he would have been dead long since. ‘Career-wise, I would definitely be dead — and I would almost certainly have been physically dead as well,’ he has said. ‘She was the first person in my life who ever came along and gave me any encouragement.’
Success: The couple cheer on the Jay Leno show in 2002, at the height of their MTV reality show The Osbournes
When they met, he was a married rocker from Birmingham, dyslexic, suffering from attention deficit disorder and with two small children. She was the daughter of Black Sabbath’s manager, Don Arden.
They fell in love one night in Amsterdam in 1979. She had gone there for a liaison with guitarist Tony Iommi, but the hook-up never happened, and instead she got talking to Ozzy.
In her autobiography, she said: ‘Ozzy says those five minutes in Amsterdam were the moment he knew he fancied me. I knew he was married with two children, but I sensed there was something between us.
‘Not long afterwards, he was kicked out of Black Sabbath because the other members said he was doing too many drugs. In fact, they were all doing drugs.
'The problem was that the others could maintain a semblance of control; they wouldn’t be staggering around crying or in a heap on the floor like Ozzy. He was troubled and lonely, and the drugs brought out his demons.’
Sharon offered to manage his solo career. By then she was in love with Ozzy, and ignored the occasional presence of his wife, Thelma. ‘I must have been mad to get involved. He should have had a tattoo on his forehead saying: “Don’t Even Think About It.”
'But God did we have a great night. We laughed, we made love, we had a big bubble bath together and then we went back to bed again. This funny, crazy, clever man accepted me for who I was.’
It was a turbulent union, however. One night she threw a bottle of Scotch at Ozzy and caught him on the back of the head. Another time he hammered her against the wall and broke her two front teeth. She smashed his gold discs and ripped up his clothes and passport.
Anything but normal: Ozzy and Sharon, with youngest children Jack and Kelly, pictured in a promotion shot for an early season of The Osbournes
During this period, he went to a record company meeting with some white doves in his pocket, Sharon having told him to release them as a stunt. Instead, bored and drunk, he bit the head off one of the birds.
‘The dove’s head landed on the PR chick’s lap in a splatter of blood,’ he recalled. ‘To be honest with you, I was so pissed, it just tasted of Cointreau. Well, Cointreau and feathers. And a bit of beak.’
Then there was the live bat, thrown on stage at a gig in Iowa; Osbourne, believing it to be a toy, bit its head off and then had to be taken to hospital to be injected against rabies.
Sharon said in her autobiography that she decided her feelings for Ozzy would to take precedence over her father, a violent man who sold her jewellery when he needed cash and ripped off his artists.
Don Arden retaliated by taking Ozzy for lunch shortly after the 1982 wedding and telling him that he could get the marriage annulled on the grounds of her insanity. The next day Sharon went to her parents’ house and was attacked by their dogs; she miscarried as a result.
‘That was it. Ozzy and I left for America and announced we were leaving my father’s record label. There was no way we were going to work for him again,’ she said. Worn out by the violence between them, she decided to stop drinking. ‘One of us had to stay sober. As it wasn’t going to be Ozzy, so it had to be me,’ she said.
She also tried to deal with Ozzy’s drug habit, throwing a pyramid of cocaine out of the window of their house in Los Angeles. Ozzy desperately raced about below trying to scoop it up.
Low point: Sharon, pictured with Ozzy in 1987, gained a stone a year between 1980 and 1989 when Ozzy's cheating and drug abuse was at its worst
In their first year of marriage, she had three miscarriages. Upon becoming pregnant again, with their eldest child Aimee, the advice was that she should stay in bed.
Ozzy was on tour, and Sharon knew that he was cheating on her, drinking and taking drugs. He would protest that he didn’t even know the girls’ names, nor whether he had been capable of infidelity. Depressed by his philandering, Sharon’s weight ballooned — she put on a stone a year from 1980 to 1989.
After their son Jack was born, Ozzy went home to celebrate by taking one of the nannies to bed.
Sharon’s response was always the same: she would go to Tiffanys or Van Cleef and send Ozzy the bill. ‘The amount depended on what he had done. There was a sliding scale. I would show him what I had bought, and he would look in horror. But he would alwayss pay — out of guilt.’
Sharon said that the last time he cheated on her was in 1986. She found a stocking under his bed in a hotel room. She made him have an Aids test, which came back positive. And although it proved negative after a retest, it put ‘the fear of God into him’.
The fights continued though, with Ozzy taking various prescription painkillers plus vodka, gin or Scotch. He would punch or kick her if she refused sex.
He became convinced that she was cheating on him and finally, in 1989, he tried to kill her. ‘One night I was downstairs reading when he came in and sat on the sofa opposite me,’ she said. ‘He said he’d made a decision: “That you have to die.” I looked in his eyes. When Ozzy was really stoned they would be devoid of any emotion. This time they were like a dead man’s eyes.’
She survived by hitting a panic button they had installed in case of burglars.
Separated: Since Sharon Osbourne found fame on her own as member of judging panels on the X Factor and America's Got Talent, pictured, the couple are said to have drifted apart
Eventually, after 14 attempts at rehab, Ozzy got sober in 1998.
The following year, Sharon began her £300,000 reinvention. She had gastric band surgery, liposuction and breast implants.
She was the driving force behind the reality TV series, The Osbournes, which first aired in 2002.
Her commercial nous helped them clinch deals worth around £40 million over three years, including Ozzy endorsing I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Sharon also joined The X Factor panel, where she developed a catty rivalry with Dannii Minogue. Then came her stint on America’s Got Talent. The couple are said now to be worth £110 million.
The only discord has come over suggestions that she is the bigger star. Ozzy said in 2005: ‘To be honest, I was a little bit jealous at first. It’s not jealousy so much; I think my ego was damaged a little, but now I don’t care as long as she’s having fun and doing what she wants to do.’
With her own show in the States, The Talk, and a possible return to The X Factor later this year, Sharon certainly appears to be doing what she wants. Where Ozzy fits in is not so clear. Whatever the truth about their current ‘separation’, it is unlikely to end soon as Ozzy takes Black Sabbath on tour to Australia and New Zealand this week.
‘We fight, of course,’ he has said of past altercations. ‘You meet these people who have been married 27 years and claim never to have had a cross word: well, I think they must have been living in different countries.’