David Bruce Cassidy (April 12, 1950 – November 21, 2017) was an American actor, singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He was known for his role as Keith Partridge, the son of Shirley Partridge (played by his stepmother Shirley Jones), in the 1970s musical–sitcom The Partridge Family, which led to his becoming one of popular culture‘s teen idols and pop singers of the 1970s. He later had a career in both acting and music.
Cassidy was born at Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital in New York City, the son of singer and actor Jack Cassidy and actress Evelyn Ward. His father was of half Irish and half German ancestry, and his mother was decended from Colonial Americans of Irish and Swiss origin. Some of his mother’s ancestors were among the founders of Newark, New Jersey.
As his parents were frequently touring on the road, he spent his early years being raised by his maternal grandparents in a middle-class neighborhood in West Orange, New Jersey. In 1956, he found out from neighbors’ children that his parents had been divorced for over two years and had not told him. David’s parents had decided because he was at such a young age, it would be better for his emotional stability to not discuss it at that time. They were gone often with theater productions and home life remained the same.
In 1956, Cassidy’s father married singer and actress Shirley Jones. They had three children: David’s half-brothers Shaun (b. 1958), Patrick (b. 1962), and Ryan (b. 1966). In 1968, after completing one final session of summer school to obtain credits necessary to get a high-school diploma, David moved into the rental home of Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones in Irvington, New York, where his half-brothers also resided.David remained there seeking fame as an actor/musician while simultaneously working half-days in the mailroom of a textile firm. He moved out when his career began to flourish.
Cassidy’s father, Jack, is credited with setting his son up with his first manager. After signing with Universal Studios in 1969, Jack introduced him to former table tennis champion and close friend Ruth Aarons, who later found her niche as a talent manager, given her theater background.Aarons had represented Jack and Shirley Jones for several years prior, and later represented Cassidy’s half-brother Shaun. Aarons became an authority figure and close friend to Cassidy, and was the driving force behind his on-screen success. After making small wages from Screen Gems for his work on The Partridge Family during season one, Aarons discovered a loophole in his contract and renegotiated it with far superior terms, and a four-year duration, a rare stipulation at the time.
On January 2, 1969, Cassidy made his professional debut in the Broadway musical The Fig Leaves Are Falling. It closed after four performances, but a casting director saw the show and asked Cassidy to make a screen test. In 1969, he moved to Los Angeles. After signing with Universal Studios in 1969, Cassidy was featured in episodes of the television series Ironside, Marcus Welby, M.D., Adam-12 and Bonanza.
In 1970, Cassidy took the role of Keith Partridge, son of Shirley Partridge, who was played by Cassidy’s real stepmother and series lead Shirley Jones. The Partridge Family series creator Bernard Slade and producers Paul Junger Witt and Bob Claver did not care whether Cassidy could sing, knowing only that his androgynous good looks would guarantee success. Shortly after production began, though, Cassidy convinced music producer Wes Farrell that he was good enough, and he was promoted to lead singer for the series’ recordings.
Once “I Think I Love You” became a hit, Cassidy began work on solo albums, as well. Within the first year, he had produced his own single, “Cherish” (from the album of the same title), which reached number nine in the United States, number two in the United Kingdom, and number one in Australia and New Zealand. He began tours that featured Partridge tunes and his own hits. Though he wanted to become a respected rock musician along the lines of Mick Jagger, his channel to stardom launched him into the ranks of teen idol, a brand he loathed until much later in life, when he managed to come to terms with his bubblegum pop beginnings.
Ten albums by The Partridge Family and five solo albums were produced during the series, with most selling more than a million copies each. Internationally, Cassidy’s solo career eclipsed the already phenomenal success of The Partridge Family. He became an instant drawcard, with sellout concert successes in major arenas around the world. These concerts produced mass hysteria, resulting in the media coining the term “Cassidymania”. For example, he played to two sellout crowds of 56,000 each at the Houston Astrodome in Texas over one weekend in 1972. His concert in New York’s Madison Square Garden sold out in one day and resulted in riots after the show. His concert tours of the United Kingdom included sellout concerts at Wembley Stadium in 1973. In Australia in 1974, the mass hysteria was such that calls were made to have him deported from the country, especially after the madness at his 33,000-person audience concert at Melbourne Cricket Ground.
A turning point in Cassidy’s live concerts (while still filming The Partridge Family) was a gate stampede which killed a teenage girl. At a show in London’s White City Stadium on May 26, 1974, nearly 800 were injured in a crush at the front of the stage. Thirty were taken to the hospital, and one, 14-year-old Bernadette Whelan, died four days later at London’s Hammersmith Hospital without regaining consciousness after the excitement and press of the crowd caused a pre-existing heart condition to trigger cardiac arrest. The show was the penultimate date on a world tour. A deeply affected Cassidy faced the press, trying to make sense of what had happened. Out of respect for the family and to avoid turning the girl’s funeral into a media circus, Cassidy did not attend the service, although he spoke to Whelan’s parents and sent flowers. Cassidy stated at the time that this would haunt him until the day he died.
By this point, Cassidy had decided to quit both touring and acting in The Partridge Family, concentrating instead on recording and songwriting. International success continued, mostly in Great Britain, Germany, and Japan, when he released three well-received solo albums on RCA in 1975 and 1976. Cassidy became the first recording artist to have a hit with “I Write the Songs“, a top-20 record in Great Britain before the song became Barry Manilow‘s signature tune. Cassidy’s recording was produced by the song’s author-composer, Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys.
In 1978, Cassidy starred in an episode of Police Story titled “A Chance to Live”, for which he received an Emmy Award nomination. NBC created a series based on it, called David Cassidy: Man Undercover, but it was cancelled after one season. A decade later, the successful Fox series 21 Jump Street used the same plot, with different youthful-looking police officers infiltrating a high school.
Cassidy later stated he was broke by the 1980s, despite being successful and highly paid. In 1985, music success continued with the Arista release of the single “The Last Kiss” (number six in the United Kingdom), with backing vocals by George Michael, which was included on the album Romance. These went gold in Europe and Australia, and Cassidy supported them with a sellout tour of the United Kingdom, which resulted in the Greatest Hits Live compilation of 1986. Michael cited Cassidy as a major career influence and interviewed Cassidy for David Litchfield’s Ritz Newspaper.
Cassidy performed in musical theater. In 1981, he toured in a revival of a pre-Broadway production of Little Johnny Jones, a show originally produced in 1904 with music, lyrics, and book by George M. Cohan. (The show is excerpted in the biographic film Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), when James Cagney sings “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy“.) However, Cassidy received negative reviews, and he was replaced by another former teen idol, Donny Osmond, before the show reached Broadway. Cassidy, in turn, was himself a replacement for the lead in the original 1982 Broadway production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Cassidy also appeared in London’s West End production of Time and returned to Broadway in Blood Brothers alongside Petula Clark and his half-brother, Shaun Cassidy.
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Cassidy returned to the American top 40 with his 1990 single “Lyin’ to Myself”, released on Enigma Records. In 1998, he had an adult contemporary music hit with “No Bridge I Wouldn’t Cross” from his album Old Trick New Dog.
In concert performances in 1990, Cassidy hired his recalcitrant TV brother Danny Bonaduce as his warm-up act. In 1995, he hosted the VH1 show 8-Track Flashback, which ran until 1998. In 1996, he replaced Michael Crawford in the Las Vegas show EFX, rewriting it into one of the Strip’s favorite shows, although Cassidy was forced to resign after he injured his foot during a performance. He also created The Rat Pack is Back, in which he made guest appearances as Bobby Darin.
In 2000, Cassidy wrote and appeared in the Las Vegas show At the Copa with Sheena Easton, as both the young and old versions of the lead character, Johnny Flamingo. His 2001 album Then and Now went platinum internationally and returned Cassidy to the top five of the UK album charts for the first time since 1974. In 2005, Cassidy played the manager of Aaron Carter‘s character in the film Popstar. In 2006, as well as performing with Peter Furniss and Thomas Bowles, he made a guest appearance for BBC Children in Need performing live, then assisting Terry Wogan collecting donations from the studio audience. He co-starred alongside his brother Patrick in a 2009 ABC Family short-lived comedy series titled Ruby & The Rockits, a show created by Shaun.
Cassidy was one of the contestants on Celebrity Apprentice in 2011, in which his daughter Katie Cassidy made a brief appearance at her father’s request. He was the first to be fired. In the following years, Cassidy maintained a regular tour schedule, with concert appearances across the USA and the UK, until his retirement and death in 2017.
As the days of “Cassidymania” subsided, Cassidy regularly addressed fans at his concerts in question-and-answer sessions. In August 2016, Cassidy performed in The Villages, Florida, and brought multiple attendees to the side of the stage, asking and answering questions and engaging with members of the community who had been fans for nearly a half century.
Cassidy married Sue Shifrin on March 30, 1991, his third and her second marriage. They had one child, Beau, in 1991. In August 2013, Cassidy’s Los Angeles publicist confirmed that the couple had separated, with Shifrin filing for divorce in February 2014.
In 2008, Cassidy publicly admitted he had an alcohol problem. He was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida on November 3, 2010, and was arrested for DUI a second time in Schodack, New York, in the early hours of August 21, 2013. He was pulled over after failing to dim his headlights as he passed a police car going in the opposite direction. After performing poorly on a field sobriety test, Cassidy was subjected to an alcohol breath test, returning a blood alcohol level of 0.10%, which is above the New York legal limit of 0.08%. The arresting officer, named Tom Jones, reported that Cassidy was polite and courteous, and jokingly asked officer Jones “What’s New Pussycat?” in reference to the 1965 hit song by the singer Tom Jones. Cassidy was subsequently charged, taken to jail, and released several hours later on $2,500 bail. He faced felony charges because of his prior DUI in Florida in 2010. On May 12, 2015, Cassidy was sentenced, on the charge of driving while intoxicated from 2013 in New York, to community service, a fine, and other consequences, including a suspended license for six months.
Cassidy was arrested on suspicion of DUI in California on January 10, 2014, after he made an illegal right turn against a red light. He was held overnight in jail. In that case, he was ordered to go to inpatient rehabilitation and was put on probation for five years.
Cassidy was cited in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on charges of leaving the scene of a car accident, expired tags, improper lane change, and driving on a suspended license (his license was suspended for six months in May 2015 as part of his sentencing in the New York case) on September 9, 2015.
In 2011, Cassidy recorded a public service announcement for Alzheimer’s disease research and prevention—due to his mother, Evelyn Ward, having the condition—and said that he would campaign for that cause whenever possible. He planned to address Congress in 2012.
Cassidy was a long-time registered Democrat. During a 2012 guest appearance on The Colbert Report he expressed his views on the leading Republican candidates for president, Mitt Romneyand Newt Gingrich. Cassidy stated, “I believe the both of them are the most embarrassing, sad, pathetic … I mean, really, this is the best we can do?”
Illness and death
On February 20, 2017, Cassidy announced that he was living with dementia, the condition that his mother suffered from at the end of her life. He retired from performing in early 2017 when the condition became noticeable during a performance in which he forgot lyrics and otherwise struggled.
On November 18, 2017, it was announced that Cassidy had been hospitalized suffering from liver and kidney failure, and was critically ill in a medically-induced coma. He was out of the coma two days later, but remained in critical but stable condition, with doctors hoping to keep him stable until a liver became available for transplant. Cassidy died on November 21, 2017, aged 67.
Cassidy also wrote a memoir, Could It Be Forever? My Story, published in the United Kingdom in March 2007, which gives further details about his personal life.
Portrayals in media
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In 1999, ABC produced a television movie biography based on The Partridge Family titled Come On Get Happy: The Partridge Family Story based on former co-star Danny Bonaduce’s account behind the popular series and personal life regarding Cassidy and him. Cassidy was portrayed by Rodney Scott and Bonaduce was portrayed by Shawn Pyfrom.
On January 9, 2000, NBC premiered a television movie based on the life and short-lived success of Cassidy titled The David Cassidy Story. While the former TV biopic focuses on both Bonaduce and Cassidy’s personal lives, this television film focused mainly on Cassidy’s rise to fame and unconventional early life. In this film, Cassidy is portrayed by Andrew Kavovit.
In September 2011, Anchor Books released the novel I Think I Love You by Welsh journalist Allison Pearson. Spanning 20 years, it chronicles Petra, a 13-year-old Welsh girl at the beginning of the book, who is infatuated with David Cassidy and then jumps to Petra’s middle-aged years, when she has a chance to meet Cassidy.
|1969||The Survivors||Mike||Episode: “Chapter Seven”|||
|1969||Ironside||Danny Goodson||Episode: “Stolen on Demand”|||
|1970||Adam-12||Tim Richmond||Episode: “Log 24 A Rare Occasion”|||
|1970||Bonanza||Billy Burgess||Episode: “The Law and Billy Burgess”|||
|1970||Marcus Welby, M.D.||Michael Ambrose||Episode: “Fun and Games and Michael Ambrose”|||
|1970||Medical Center||Rick Lambert||Episode: “His Brother’s Keeper”|||
|1970||The Mod Squad||Brad Johnson||Episode: “The Loser”|||
|1970||The F.B.I.||Larry Wentworth||Episode: “Fatal Impostor”|||
|1970–74||The Partridge Family||Keith Partridge||96 episodes|||
|1978||Police Story||Officer Dan Shay||Episode: “A Chance to Live”|||
|1978–79||David Cassidy: Man Undercover||Officer Dan Shay||10 episodes; also composer of theme music|||
|1980||The Love Boat||Ted Harmes||1 episode|||
|1980||The Night the City Screamed||David Greeley||Television movie|||
|1980/83||Fantasy Island||Jeremy Todd / Danny Collier||2 episodes|||
|1982||Matt Houston||John Gordon Boyd||Episode: “Joey’s Here”|||
|1983||Parade of Stars||George M. Cohan||Television movie|||
|1983||Tales of the Unexpected||Donald / David||Episode: “Heir Presumptuous”|||
|1988||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Joey Mitchell||Episode: “Career Move”|||
|1990||The Spirit of ’76||Adam-11|||
|1991||Blossom||Himself||Episode: “A Rockumentary”|||
|1991||The Flash||Sam Scudder/Mirror Master||Episode: “Done with Mirrors”|||
|1992||The Ben Stiller Show||David Cassidy||Episode: “With Flea”|||
|1995||The John Larroquette Show||Jefferson Kelly||Episode: “Wrestling Matches”; also composer of theme music|||
|2003||Malcolm in the Middle||Boone Vincent||Episode: “Vegas”|||
|2003||The Agency||Everett Price||Episode: “War, Inc.”|||
|2004||Kim Possible||Roland Pond (voice)||Episode: “Oh Boyz”|||
|2005||Less than Perfect||Vince||Episode: “Playhouse”|||
|2009||Ruby & The Rockits||David Gallagher||10 episodes|||
|2011||Celebrity Apprentice||Himself/contestant||2 episodes|||
|2013||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||Peter Coe||Episode: “Last Woman Standing”|||
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David Bruce Cassidy was born on April 12, 1950, at Manhattan’s Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital (now the Terence Cardinal Cook Healthcare Center) on Upper Fifth Avenue.
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Aside from a dash of Swiss and a little more Irish, this part of Cassidy’s tree marches steadily back in New Jersey for generations. In fact, some of his ancestors were among the founders of Newark.
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- C’mon, Get Happy, p. 4
- C’mon, Get Happy, p. 35
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- C’mon, Get Happy, p. 43
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- Litchfield, David (1985). “David Cassidy by George Michael“. Ritz Newspaper (100). pp. 16–19.
The interview between DAVID and GEORGE first took place over lunch at Pier 31 Restaurant, at which they both got rather inebriated…
- C’mon, Get Happy, p. 221
- The Broadway League (March 21, 1982). “”Little Johnny Jones” (1982 revival)”. Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
- “”Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” cast replacements”. Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
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- Nevada, Marriage Index 1956-2005) and divorced on December 28, 1983 (California, Divorce Index 1966-1984
- Vespa, Mary. “Now Back Onstage, David Cassidy Has a New Fiancée and a Confession; His Rock Days Were No Picnic”. People.com. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
- Park, Jeannie; Michael Alexander (November 20, 1989). “After Riding a Lifetime of Ups and Downs, Kay Lenz Hits Her Stride with a Role in Midnight Caller”. People. 32 (21). Retrieved February 11, 2014.
…David Cassidy when they married in 1977, just 2½ months after meeting on a blind date.
- California, Divorce Index 1966-1984
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- “Time to scream! David Cassidy comes to Lycian Centre”. Times Herald-Record. October 21, 2011.
- “The Great Available Panel: John Harwood, Katrina vanden Heuvel and David Cassidy share their thoughts on Newt Gingrich’s sex appeal, Mitt Romney’s wealth and Connecticut’s tacos”. The Colbert Report. January 26, 2012.
- “David Cassidy reveals he has dementia”. NY Daily News. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
- “Former teen heartthrob David Cassidy reveals dementia, quits touring”.
- Starkey, Adam (November 18, 2017). “David Cassidy in ‘critical condition’ with organ failure”. Metro. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
- Press, Brian Ballou, and the Associated. “David Cassidy ‘critical but stable’ in Fort Lauderdale-area hospital with multiple organ failure”.
- Chuck, Elizabeth (November 21, 2017). “David Cassidy, 1970s teen idol, has died at 67”. NBC News. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
- Walls, Jeannette (March 7, 2007). “Britney Spears has whole rehab wing to herself – TODAY Entertainment”. MSNBC. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
- “David Cassidy Biography”. FilmReference.com. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- “David Cassidy – Movies and Filmography – AllMovie”. AllMovie. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- “David Cassidy”. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- “David Cassidy”. TV Guide. Retrieved November 19,2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to David Cassidy.|
- David Cassidy’s official web site
- David Cassidy at AllMovie
- David Cassidy at AllMusic
- David Cassidy on IMDb
- David Cassidy at the Internet Broadway Database
- The David Cassidy Collection is held by the Victoria and Albert Museum Theatre and Performance Department.