Family & Companions
Heir to a blended show business dynasty that included a Tony award-winning father, a dancer-choreographer mother and an Academy Award-winning stepmother, David Cassidy enjoyed meteoric success as the 20-year-old star of the television phenomenon, "The Partridge Family" (ABC, 1970-74). Within a year of its premiere, Cassidy was a multiple Grammy award-winning, multi-gold and platinum-certified recording artist and millionaire, with a fan club membership outnumbering those of Elvis Presley and The Beatles. By the age of 24, he was an industry burnout, labeled persona non grata by the owners of hotels vandalized by his fans and deemed a health hazard due to overzealous crowds wrecking havoc at his live performances. Despite redefining himself in later life as a top-ranked Las Vegas headliner, a composer, actor, philanthropist and entrepreneur, David Cassidy never fully escaped being the "G-rated Mick Jagger" and the early 1970s' king of the teenyboppers. While battling personal issues including a longtime battle with alcoholism, Cassidy gamely played to his aging fanbase throughout his life before succmbing to liver failure on November 21, 2017 at the age of 67.
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. His father was Broadway song and dance man John Joseph "Jack" Cassidy and his mother Evelyn Ward, a chorus line dancer and occasional Broadway choreographer. With both of his parents frequently on the road in touring productions, young David was raised though his early childhood by his maternal grandparents in his mother's hometown of West Orange, NJ. In 1956, he learned from a neighbor that his parents had divorced years earlier without telling him and that his father had married another woman, actress and singer Shirley Jones, with whom he had been cast in a 1955 European tour of the musical "Oklahoma."
Although Cassidy never enjoyed a close relationship with his father, his dream of becoming a performer was sparked at age three when he was taken to see his father on Broadway in Joshua Logan's "Wish You Were Here." By age five, he had learned to play piano; at age 10, he was soloing in his Episcopal Church choir. In 1960, Cassidy relocated with his mother to Hollywood, where she enjoyed a second career as a television actress. He made his professional stage debut alongside Ward in a Los Angeles Theatre Company production of J. B. Fagan's 1926 comedy, "And So to Bed." After leaving Rexford High School in 1968, he headed to New York City to establish himself as a legitimate actor. Working as a mail room clerk while auditioning, Cassidy made his Broadway debut with a company role in humorist Allan Sherman's musical comedy "The Fig Leaves Are Falling," which closed after only four performances in January 1969. A casting agent who had seen the show during its abbreviated run persuaded Cassidy to return to Los Angeles to resume his acting career there.
Signed with Universal Studios, Cassidy turned up in guest spots on such weekly series as "Ironside" (NBC, 1967-1975), "The FBI" (ABC, 1965-1974), "Bonanza" (NBC, 1959-1973) and "The Mod Squad" (ABC, 1968-1973). In 1970, he was invited to try out for a musical situation comedy to be called "Family Business," intended by Screen Gems' as a follow-up to its cancelled "The Monkees" (NBC, 1966-68). The show's concept was inspired in part by The Cowsills, a family of singers from Newport, RI who had enjoyed a string of chart-topping singles after signing with MGM in 1966. When Cassidy auditioned for what came to be called "The Partridge Family," he had no idea that his stepmother already had the pivotal role of the family band's mother hen. Initially, Jones was the only cast member expected to sing on the show, with the remaining vocals to be dubbed by session singers. The producers were sufficiently impressed by Cassidy's demo tape to permit him to both sing and play guitar in the series' premiere episode.
"The Partridge Family" was given a plumb time slot on Friday nights at 8:30 p.m., following the similar blended family sitcom "The Brady Bunch" (ABC, 1969-1974). While the series never ranked higher than 16th place on the Nielson network charts, it developed a considerable following with younger viewers, who proved to be a lucrative demographic for Partridge Family merchandising. Featured twice in the series first season, the Tony Romeo-composed "I Think I Love You" had the distinction of being one of just three hit records recorded by a fictional singing group, putting the Partridges in the rarefied company of The Archies and The Chipmunks. The 70 million records sold under the Partridge imprimatur were the work of veteran music producer Wes Farrell and a team of professional singers known as The Wrecking Crew. Cassidy also had a profitable sideline as a solo act, recording and touring to sold-out venues worldwide, through and beyond the run of the series.
With unparalleled success came a measure of personal dissatisfaction for David Cassidy. Having played in garage bands throughout high school and idolized such rock titans as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and John Lennon, Cassidy bristled at being identified solely with "bubblegum" pop, even as it made him a multi-millionaire. In a controversial May 1972 interview given to Rolling Stone magazine (whose Annie Leibovitz cover boasted a nude photograph of the 22-year-old performer, complete with a hint of pubic hair), Cassidy complained about being stuck with his Partridge Family image and of cheating him out profits from the merchandising his likeness. Australian pop singer Rick Springfield was briefly considered as a replacement for Cassidy but ABC pulled the plug on the series in 1974. By this time, David Cassidy was playing tour dates all over the world as the highest-paid solo performer in musical history and certainly the biggest teeny bopper crush in the nation. It was a rare month when his picture was NOT posted on Tiger Beat and 16 magazines.
A free agent from 1974 on, an exhausted and discouraged Cassidy was plagued by a series of tragic events, both professional and private. In May 1974, while Cassidy performed an announced farewell tour at London's White City Stadium, a 14-year-old girl was crushed by thousands of fans who rushed the stage and died two days later. In 1976, Cassidy's father Jack was killed at the age of 49, overcome by smoke inhalation and burned beyond recognition before firefighters could respond to a West Hollywood penthouse fire that had ignited from a cigarette caught in the couch cushions. A 1977 marriage to actress Kay Lenz ended in divorce while Cassidy's comeback series, "David Cassidy - Man Undercover" (CBS, 1978-79), a spin-off of the NBC police anthology "Police Story" (NBC, 1973-78), was cancelled after just 10 episodes. In 1980, Cassidy was devastated by the shooting death of John Lennon, who had become a mentor and personal friend.
A second marriage in 1984 faltered a year later. In 1982, Cassidy replaced troubled fellow heartthrob Andy Gibb in the title role of the Broadway premiere of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." In 1993, he returned to Broadway with his half-brother Shaun - who in the late 1970s had picked up where his half-brother had left off as teen idol du jour - to star in the American premiere of Willy Russell's "Blood Brothers." By this time, Cassidy had fathered a daughter out of wedlock and again remarried, this time to songwriter Sue Shifrin. Starting in 1996, he enjoyed a profitable two-year run as the star of the Las Vegas extravaganza "EFX." By middle age, he was enjoying a successful late-life career as a touring entertainer and breeder of thoroughbred racehorses. In 2009, he reunited with brother Shaun and half-brother Patrick Cassidy for the ABC Family series "Ruby and the Rockits," which lasted for a single season. The former heartthrob made headlines again in November 2010 when he was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, at the same time he was announced as a contestant on season four of the reality competition series, "The Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 2004- ). Cassidy's legal problems continued, being arrested for drunk driving again in upstate New York in August 2013 and a third time in Los Angeles in January 2014. The 63-year-old entered rehab after the third incident, and his wife filed for divorce after 23 years of marriage. In early 2017, following a performance in Los Angeles in which he was clearly disoriented and confused, Cassidy announced that he was retiring due to a diagnosis of dementia. David Cassidy died on November 21, 2017 of liver failure after entering a medically-induced coma. He was 67.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Moved to Los Angeles and signed with Universal Studios
Made professional debut in the Broadway musical "The Fig Leaves Are Falling"
Starred as Keith Partridge on the ABC series "The Partridge Family"
Released first single, "Cherish," from the album of the same title
Released the hit single "I Write The Songs," which was later made famous by Barry Manilow
Received an Emmy nomination for an episode of "Police Story" (NBC) titled "A Chance To Live"
Reprised role from "Police Story" for the short-lived series "David Cassidy: Man Under Cover" (NBC)
Toured in a revival of a pre-Broadway production of "Little Johnny Jones"; replaced with Donny Osmond for the Broadway production
Was a replacement for the lead in the original Broadway production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"
Appeared in London's West End production of "Time" with Sir Laurence Olivier
Released seventh studio album, <i>Romance</i>, which included the single "The Last Kiss," with backing vocals by George Michael
Returned to Broadway to star in "Blood Brothers," alongside his half-brother, Shaun Cassidy
Replaced Michael Crawford in the Las Vegas show "EFX," and with creative control he re-wrote the plot and about half of the original songs
Created and produced the original production of "The Rat Pack Is Back!" in Las Vegas
Wrote and appeared in the Las Vegas show "At the Copa," playing both the young and old versions of the lead character, Johnny Flamingo
Released his most successful album in 25 years, <i>Then and Now</i>
Played the manager of Aaron Carter's character in the film "Popstar"
Co-starred alongside his brother Patrick in the short-lived ABC Family series, "Ruby & The Rockits"; created by his brother Shaun Cassidy
Joined the cast of the fourth season of "Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC)
Had final screen appearance as Blackie Wade in indie western "Forgiven: This Gun 4 Hire"