Although the details surrounding Amberson Osborn’s life are minimal, his impact on his son Norman Osborn’s life is anything but.
Amberson Osborn was the grandson of Alton Osborn, the man responsible for attaining the Osborn family fortune. However, Amberson lost the family fortune when his invention was stolen. Interestingly, Norman claims that it was Amberson’s fault and that he often ‘blamed others for his failures’. It is unclear what the nature of this ‘invention’ was and who was responsible for stealing it, but it is very likely that Amberson invested a large amount of the Osborn fortune to develop it. Unfortunately for Norman and his mother, after Amberson realized that he was cheated he began abusing alcohol. Amberson lashed out at his young son and verbally abused him. He even hit his wife when she came to Norman's defense. The shock from his father’s screaming caused Norman to kill their family dog, because it would be ‘one less mouth to feed’.
Amberson would eventually lose the entire family estate and he continued to torment his young son. In an attempt to toughen up Norman, he locked him in an abandoned Osborn family mansion. He forced his son to 'face the darkness' and made him stay there throughout the night during an intense rain storm. The experience traumatized Norman and over the course of the evening he was petrified from the apparent ‘cackling’ of a green goblin-like creature. This incident most likely inspired the villainous alter ego Norman would later adopt.
It should be noted that in Peter Parker Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #25, Norman refers to his father as 'Norman Osborn the first', not Amberson Osborn. It is possible that Amberson is his middle name, but that is purely speculative. Since the first reference to his name in Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #14 is Amberson, that is the widely accepted name for Norman's father.
|FB: Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) Annual #14 (Story 1)
|Amberson's 'invention' is stolen
|FB: Spider-Man: Revenge of the Green Goblin #2
|FB: Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #25
|Amberson locks Norman in an abandoned Osborn mansion
|FB, Cameo: Dark X-Men #5
|Norman relives his abusive past
|FB: What If? Infinity: Dark Reign #1
|Amberson verbally abusing Norman before he's transported to 'What if' timeline