April 12, 1950 – November 21, 2017
– Spoken word from the song Doesn’t Somebody Want to be Wanted
David Cassidy spent his life having to constantly remind people that (1) he wasn’t Keith Partridge and even when he was a “teen idol” he wasn’t a teen. (2) Shirley Jones was NOT his mother. She was his step-mother, and she stopped being that in 1974 when she divorced his Dad.
It was a little confusing. Shirley Jones played mom Shirley, Danny Bonaduce played brother Danny, and David at age 20 started played 16-year-old Keith on the hit television show The Partridge Family (1970-74).
Unlike Keith, David himself was not a goody-goody teenager living in suburbia, he was the only child of Broadway actor-singers Jack Cassidy and Evelyn Ward. David appeared on the Broadway stage at age 19 where he was spotted by an L.A. agent and sent out to the coast for TV guest spots on Marcus Welby M.D, Ironside, Adam-12, and Bonanza. He had a boyish charm and a pretty face. He was a typical Hollywood young man of the 60s who had tried plenty of psychedelic drugs and enjoyed casual sex. He inherited an endowment like his dear Dad and he gravitated to older women and “slutty” types. His half-brothers from Shirley & Jack (married in 1956) gave David the nickname DONK, short for Donkey Dick. David wrote all about his junk and its admirers in his 1990s memoir.
When he auditioned for The Partridge Family (a sitcom based on The Cowsills minus the abusive perv father) he didn’t know that his stepmother Shirley Jones would be playing his TV mother. David & Shirley later convinced the execs at Columbia/Screen Gems that they could do their own singing and not have to lip-synch all the studio generated songs as they had in the pilot.
The Partridge Family was a hit and the song “I Think I Love You” became the top selling global single of 1970. They were nominated for a Grammy in 1971 for best “New Artist”. The kid actors from the ABC-TV Friday night lead-in sitcom The Brady Bunch wished they were as cool as P-Fam. Davy Jones is NO Bobby Sherman.
The Family house was actually located on the Warner Ranch lot in Burbank, near the FRIENDS Fountain.
The house was featured in Bewitched as the Kravitz house, the Stevens’ very nosey neighbor Gladys and her future corpse-snatched husband Abner.
So if this is the Partridge/Kravitz home… that must mean the Stevens’ house is across the street, right
Back to Donk:
When the show and his “teen idol” status blew up, the studio kept David at the Sunset-Gower Studio taping for 12 hours a day, followed by recording sessions for the steady stream of P-Fam LPs and radio hits, and he’d play concerts all weekend and be back to the set Monday. He reportedly played some 350 concerts in 17 countries while releasing 10 P-Fam albums, eight solo albums and 17 singles. David received so much fan mail that the Hollywood Post office reportedly had to annex an adjoining building to sort through the mail. Merchandise (coloring books, towels, lunchboxes) hit the stores with his face on it, and he graced the cover of dozens of Tiger Beat Magazine covers. In case you forgot his Tiger Beat “faves”:
His favorite dessert: Strawberry Shortcake
His favorite color: Blue
His favorite snack food: Dry-roasted peanuts
His dog’s name was Hashish (Tiger Beat changed it to ‘Sheesh’ for their nine-to-twelve-year-old readership)
His Favorite song? David once told fans: “I sing a song sometimes at the end of my act called “Cry.” It was originally a hit for Johnny Ray…My father taught me the song when I was a little boy, and I rearranged it for me as a tribute to him for all he gave me and taught me.”
“I was much more into the British blues thing, John Mayall and Cream. Clapton, Peter Gabriel. I saw Jimi Hendrix five times.”
His “feathered” hair was epic and became a fad. The “Rachel” of the 70’s. I even had my MOTHER take me to a stylist, NOT A BARBER with a picture of Cassidy and said, “THIS is what I want!”
About his Dad, his father Jack Cassidy was a very talented, bi-polar, bi-sexual alcoholic with a huge ego who grew resentful of his wife and son’s towering fame above his own. If you think about it, Jack had been plodding away for decades on Broadway and on television, superstardom *just* out of reach, then his child surpasses any success of Jack’s in such a short period of time. David hadn’t spoken to his father for a year when Jack Cassidy, age 49, burned to death in his divorced bachelor condo in West Hollywood. David said he wished he had the chance to say ‘I love you’ to his Dad before he passed. It haunted him.
I watched the David Cassidy documentary called The Last Session recently. It really was so very sad and uncomfortable, which was the entire point I guess. David desperately wanted his father’s approval.
David was thrust into international fame and chaotic life on the road without a real support system back home. The 20-something was making big money singing to hysterical teenage girls all over the world. One U.K. show led to a haunting tragedy when 800 platform-shoed concert-goers were injured by a stampede which killed 14-year-old named Bernadette Whelan who died from brain damage brought on by asphyxiation. Her parents publicly stated they didn’t blame Cassidy. These days he’d have been sued and destroyed. He sent flowers and a message of condolences to the family but avoided attending the funeral and turning it into a media circus.
“I wanted to close the book on the madness and hysteria.”
David found solace during these crazy touring years by visiting with friends, including pal Kim (Bette Davis Eyes) Carnes (who opened for him on tours). She told an interviewer: “As David used to say, he couldn’t go to a market, he couldn’t go out anywhere, and our house became a safe place for him. We’d get out a bottle of wine and smoke a joint…and put on what we all liked: Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck…He had the best laugh, the best smile, and the biggest heart.”
His white-hot fame finally cooled down after the sitcom ended in 1974. David married his first wife, actress Kay Lenz, in 1977. In 1979 he starred in a TV detective show titled, David Cassidy: Man Undercover which was cancelled after ten episodes.
The 1980s were not as welcoming to him and he grew depressed and drank more. His marriage to Kay Lenz dissolved in 1983, and offers for work dried up while P-Fam reruns played daily around the world. Perhaps his ego was also bruised by seeing his TV sister Susan Dey starring in movies and an Emmy-winning hit series L.A. LAW. David later told his fans, “There were times, most of them in the 80’s, when I felt very lost and despondent. I was frustrated by my lack of opportunity to reach you, and to share my life and talent with you…”
David Cassidy was the first to admit he had no real skills or talents outside of show biz. His love of horses, racing, and horse breeding could only occupy him for so long. He appeared with brother Shaun in Blood Brothers on Broadway in 1993 and stayed with the show for the U.S. National Tour in 1994 – I saw it with Petula Clark. All three were great. (I saw Petula in concert in 2019 in the very same theater I saw Blood Brothers in. She very sweetly acknowledged David and his death.). He then went to Las Vegas and took over the fantasy stage spectacle EFX from Michael Crawford and stayed with it from 1997 to 1999. He performed 44 weeks a year. He drafted his brother Shaun to help re-tool the show for his own talents and fans loved seeing him entertain again. A couple fans I know had read his memoir and yelled DONK!!! when he took the stage.
Cassidy went on to create his own Vegas show at the RIO from January 2000 to January 2001 called At the Copa, which co-started Sheena Easton and featured songs from the 40s to 70s, including his own hits. He toured regularly throughout the early 2000s and occasionally stepped in to play Bobby Darin in the long-running The Rat Pack is Back! show in Las Vegas that he co-produced & co-created.
In 2011, Cassidy sued Sony (current owner of Columbia/Screen Gems) for back royalties of P-Fam merchandise of which he claimed to have only received $5,000 in 40 years. Under his 1971 contract with Screen Gems, Cassidy was supposed to get 15 percent of net merchandising revenues for the use of his image, voice or likeness, and no more than half of that for items in which other cast members appeared. In July 2012, Cassidy was denied a jury trial in the case with a judge citing an arbitration clause in the actor’s original 1971 contract. That arbitrator finally ruled on the case, awarding Cassidy $157,965.
The victory lap in court was short-lived as Cassidy’s drinking began to manifest in legal woes. He was charged with DUI (drunk driving) three times between 2010 and 2014. Cassidy’s alcoholism and abuse of prescription medicines for depression ended his 23-year marriage to third wife, Sue Shifrin and they divorced in 2014. I n 2015, he filed for bankruptcy, and was later cited for leaving the scene of another accident.
After a bankruptcy, Cassidy had to sell his mansion and boat, so he bought this condominium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
After a disastrous concert (footage leaked to media) at Agoura Hills CA in February 2017 where he forgot lyrics and almost fell off stage. Fans got angry, Cassidy responded with “Are you stupid or deaf?!”
Cassidy was booked on Dr. Phil to discuss his retirement from concerts and his inherited affliction of dementia. Later in life, he was reportedly close to his mother Evelyn, who developed Alzheimer’s Disease of which she died in 2012. David tried his hardest as caregiver and spoke publicly about caregiving for dementia patients.
He later confessed to an A&E documentary crew shortly before his death that his mental deterioration was really caused by his excessive drinking and that he’d continued to secretly drink after his 2016 rehab treatment.
“I did it to myself to cover up the sadness and the emptiness.”
Danny Bonaduce told People mag:
“Part of alcoholism is lying. When you’re an addict, you know you can’t be honest with people. You say what you want them to hear. I can’t be mad at David for that, but it’s still a tragedy.”
David Cassidy died of liver and kidney failure on November 21, 2017 at age 67 in a Ft. Lauderdale area hospital. His family was with him at the end, and his daughter told fans that his last words were, “so much wasted time.”
An announcement was made to press: “On behalf of the entire Cassidy family, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, our uncle, and our dear brother, David Cassidy. David died surrounded by those he loved, with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long. Thank you for the abundance of love and support you have shown him these many years.”
He was survived by his (half) brothers Shaun, Patrick & Ryan and his two children, Katie, 31, and Beau, 27. He left no provisions for his children in his will, but his son was listed as beneficiary on life insurance and a retirement plan for a reported combined value of $1.6 million.
David Cassidy was cremated with his ashes reportedly scattered in Bali.
Shirley Jones told the press, “As a little boy, his sweet sensitivity and wicked sense of humor were already on display, and I will treasure the years we spent working and growing together. I will also find solace knowing that David is now with his dad.”
Thank you Mark Langlois for the story and thank very much Mark and Laur for the Florida snaps.
52 thoughts on “David Cassidy”
1980s somewhere is a poster out there from the 1980s with David and others on it mentioning the girl who died at the show!!!!
I remember 1978
We had one Partridge family record fir some reason
A kid in my class had a Shaun cassidy 45 rpm
Partridge family was in syndication
Hardy boys was having its run and going into syndication
What was david doing? Coach surfing
I was at this Southpoint casino show in Las Vegas on July 1, 2012. He was a mess. At one point a woman yelled requesting a song and he replied ” Let me do my job. Your job is to sit and clap.”
About 1/3 of the crowd walked out. Here is the news story on it.
The advertising for cosmetics are annoying.
And if he had a donk are u jealous you have a tinkle ?
David took “Come on Get Happeeee! to a whole nother’ level!
Aside from the celeb gossip, his case is a sad example of what long term abuse of alcohol can do to a person, both mentally and physically. Interesting write up, Scott…..
Loved TV on Friday night in the 70s.
Nanny and The Professor
I read that when divorced, he rarely saw his Dad again. His Dad married someoen else and basically started a new family. His Dad was cruel to him, and then jeaous of his success. Jack Cassidy was not a nice guy. Sad
Jack was one who could easily get all fired up
There’s rumors about him being bisexual too, really taking from his father.
FYI, his ashes were spread at Saratoga Springs not Bali unless there was a fraction randomly spread there though.
I was never a fan – The Partridge Family was well before my time – but I watched the A&E special after his death and I remember it to this day because it was heartbreaking. It’s basically just filmed evidence of the total collapse of a man. There’s footage of David recording an album, I think it was Songs My Father Taught Me, and he was just out of it. Everyone in the studio looked uncomfortable when he started rambling about his dad. It was clear their relationship was complicated and he was clinging to a romanticized version of Jack Cassidy.
He seemed like a really sad man full of regrets. I remember his daughter, with whom he had a strange relationship, said that on his deathbed he said something like “So much time wasted”.
A common, sad, show business tale, retold too many times, with too many others. What I don’t get: with his dad & Shirley, industry veterans, no one was financially advising him on secure investments when the big buck were flowing?
He wasn’t a country boy with no contacts in the industry & understand the temptations of drugs & alcohol, but this kind of stuff is just stupid. Fully understand Jack’s problems, but Shirley seemed like a stable influence. What happened? Just too damn sad in my book.
I don’t think big bucks were ever flowing for him. Back in the day, actors and musicians didn’t get the astronomical salaries they get today because they usually didn’t have lucrative contracts unless they were enormously popular. David didn’t get a cut of the millions made from merchandise. I vaguely recall him saying he didn’t even paid for touring when The Partridge Family was popular. He probably made decent money off records sales, but there was only a small window of time when he was selling millions of albums.
I don’t think he and Shirley Jones were particularly close, so I doubt he was interested in whatever advice she would dole out. Hell, maybe she and others tried to advise him and he just didn’t listen.
On the contrary, I think he and Shirley Jones WERE close. Hard to say what happened. In the end he really did seem bitter and unhappy.
What a loser
Yes, you very much are. Great self-awareness! A+ 👍
Pretty much what I’d expect from a troll called ROFLCOPTER.
David Cassidy was far from a loser. He was extremely talented and unfortunately extremely used by the industry. The people who hired him knew what they were doing. He was underage to sign the contract when The Partridge Family was to begin. They didn’t care. He filmed all day then did concerts all evening. He was exhausted but as long as the industry kept his name big the industry made money. The industry didn’t care about anything but how much they could rate in. Loser??? No. Used and abused?? Definitely. And anyone that would call him a loser is an uneducated fool!
While I agree that David was exploited (as most celebrities were back then), he was 23/24 when The Partridge Family premiered. Hardly underage. He just signed a crappy, albeit standard, contract of the era. He was contractually obligated to tour to promote the show and his albums and likely got a paltry cut of record sales (he claimed he wasn’t paid to tour which, considering the era, is likely true). None of the cast got a cut of merchandising which earned Screen Gems millions. David also had the misfortune of being a teen idol in a time when very few actors could reinvent themselves. He was not seen for his talent but as the object of lust for teeny boppers.
As much as some people deride athletes, actors and musicians for being overpaid for doing next to nothing, those same people don’t seem to realize those careers have a very short shelf life. Most have a limited amount of time to make as much money as they can before the next flavor of the moment replaces them.
i was a fan of David Cassidy back then and am now 61. i had his music, poster’s on wall and would stay in my room for hours and sing right along with him… never missed the Partridge Family…to learn of his last words hit a chord within me.. “so much wasted time”.
Am sorry he felt this way at the time of his death.
I just read Shirley Jones’ book and David’s dad Jack was a real jerk to David. Perhaps if he had had a better father, he wouldn’t have turned to drugs. We will never know
I saw him in 1970 in Knoxville, TN, front row. He was in that famous what jumpsuit.
David was said to be ‘sizemologically blessed’.
Both he and his father. He was called, “Horse,” on the Partridge Family set.
Well in Shirley Jones’ book she said Jack and all four of his sons were well endowed. I thought it a very inappropriate thing to say from a mother’s point of few
As the mother of a 35-year-old son, I have to ask, how the hell would she know about her sons and her stepson? I can’t think of any answer to that question which wouldn’t make me want to puke.
I don’t want to know that answer. Once my kids were potty trained and understood basic human hygiene I tapped out. Have no clue what my teenage son looks like down south anymore…as I shouldn’t. That’s just creepy knowledge to have about your child, even creepier knowing about your stepson.
Welcome to Hollyweird.
I was at the Canyon Club the night he fell off the stage. The “performance” started late, not unusual, but as soon as he walked on stage you could tell he was loaded. My wife dragged me to the show and the audience was full of women that were teens when he was big time. The disappointment and heartbreak was palatable in the audience which turned to disgust very quickly. I actually told my wife he was going to fall off the stage but I thought the front, not the side. It was sad to see. We and many in the audience walked out on him about 3/4 of the way through.
Didn’t he turn out to have dementia, though? He could’ve been suffering from alcohol-induced dementia and what you saw was the disease, not drunkenness.
The article mentions the concert incident where he forgot words and almost fell off the stage. It might have been a year or so before he died that he was interviewed in the KTLA Morning News here in Los Angeles. His speech was jumbled, his answers incoherent, and it looked like he had no idea where he was or what he was doing. It was just so sad. I remember the interviewer trying to get a clear answer but she tried without success.
I think he had dementia. Same thing happened to Rita Hayworth. On a plane she slurred her words and acted incoherent, everyone thought she was a messy drunk. Come to find out she had dementia.
Speaking of the Cassidy house being right across the street from Samantha and Darren Steven’s house, I saw an old episode of Hazel recently and in one outside shot it was obvious that the Baxter house was right next door to the Stevens house.
I was 11 years old and I was into David Cassidy. I was a member of the Dutch fanclub. Every month I got my magazine and the posters. My mother bought me a David Cassidy shirt. So, I went to school wearing it, very proud…. They teased the hell out of me, so I only wore it at home from then on. I’m 59 now, and was very, very sad hearing that he died. He was my first love.
Jack Cassidy Factoid: He auditioned for the role of Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore show and was the producers’ first choice. However, his ego was so massive he turned it down because he didn’t want to play “second fiddle” to a female lead (MTM). Obviously the part went to Ted Knight. He did quest star in one episode during season two titled “Cover Boy,” playing Ted’s brother Hal.
I’ve read that Jack Cassidy turned down the role of Ted Baxter simply because he did not want to play a buffoon, not because he objected to being second fiddle to Mary Tyler Moore.
There was a shortage alcohol for awhile when David was here in Las Vegas..we all blamed him.
You know what website you’re on, right? Cool your tits.
You clearly don’t have them by your comment so leave tits out of it, idiot. And, yes, we know what site we’re on. Been a death hag for years. Even when Scott’s being sarcastic or joking, he’s not disrespectful like that about the dead. He has RESPECT for them. He’ll trash shitty family members and celebs who were known for being dicks but he doesn’t disrespect those who don’t deserve it. He’s gone out of his way more than once to help arrange tombstones for forgotten celebrities. So, I’ll throw your question back at you, do YOU know what site you’re on? Because you clearly miss the point of this site’s purpose. Death hags respect death, we do not mock it. Go somewhere else.
Scott, the dumbest shit you ever did was open the comment section. Do you know how hateful it gets? You don’t have mods or report buttons. Step up, man. Trolls are wrecking this site.
“Cool your tits” is a slang expression that means calm down.
Scott I saw David in the play Little Jonny Jones ( Yankee Doodle) David was Beautiful Talented and Fantastic!! He sounded Exceptional!! San Diego,Ca in 1981
you have to feel bad for him almost all of these “teen idols” people crash very hard when it is “over” for them
Prettiest boy in the World! David Cassidy!
We saw a nude photo and anyone who thinks that is “big” must come from tinymeatland!
Where did you see it? Asking for a friend.
Send it to Scott! He will post it.
I’m going to assume that if it was a published photo, he wasn’t in an aroused state when it was taken. I can tell you as a medical professional that the size when flaccid is in no way an indication of the size when erect. Just sayin’.
Yay ! New content ….more please !
Scott, loved your Cassidy haircut.