David Cassidy: Recalling A Pop-Culture, Music and TV Icon

Herbie J Pilato


[This article is based on entertainment postings and accredited media reports attributed to the following outlets: Tribute.ca, and People.com.]

He was one of the most beloved music superstars of all time. His legendary TV show premiered over 50 years ago and remains a cherished memory for millions of his fans. At one point in his career, he was even more popular than The Beatles.

His name is David Cassidy, son of actor Jack Cassidy and Evelyn Ward, and stepson to the Oscar-winning actress Shirley Jones, who starred with David on their hit sitcom, The Partridge Family.

Cassidy, who died at age 67 in 2018, found fame in the fall of 1970 when The Partridge Family debuted on ABC on a Friday night following The Brady Bunch, the network's other popular family sitcom of the era.

He had made guest appearances on many TV shows before that, including Marcus Welby, M.D., but it was his role as Keith Partridge on The Partridge Family that made him a star. He played a teen idol in the series, and he became a teen idol in real life.

According to journalist Alexandra Heilbron on Tribute.ca, his father Jack Cassidy helped David land a role on Broadway in his teens.

As Heilbron goes on to detail, "David then moved into guest appearances on hit television dramas such as Bonanza, Ironside, and Medical Center. In 1969, David’s agent asked him to audition for the role of Keith Partridge on the sitcom The Partridge Family. He was initially reluctant to do so, wanting instead to be known as a serious actor, but auditioned and won the role."

Only later, did he learn that his stepmother, Shirley Jones, would be playing his biological mother on the sitcom.

As Heilbron further explains, "when producers discovered David could actually sing and play guitar, he began recording the show’s songs. The first single on The Partridge Family’s debut album, “I Think I Love You,” shot up the charts in 1970. David began performing concerts for thousands of screaming fans all over the world while still appearing on four seasons of the show."

The Partridge Family TV show ended when, as Heilbron documents, "David had had enough. In 1974, when he was performing a concert in Britain, barriers toppled due to a rush of teenage girls. One fan was crushed in the chaos that ensued. David felt responsible for the hysteria that occurred at his concerts, and fearful of something similar happening again, he retired from the limelight for a while."

Cassidy later made a guest appearance on an episode of the TV anthology series, Police Story, for which he received an Emmy nomination. The actor/singer then took the lead in another TV show, this one, titled, David Cassidy: Man Undercover.

Cassidy then found success on Broadway in musicals like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1982. He later starred with his step-brother Shaun Cassidy, who had also found fame as a pop music star and as a TV star (via The Hardy Boys on ABC in the mid-to-late 1970s).

As Heilbron chronicles, David also found success in Las Vegas and starred in the 2009 series Ruby and the Rockits, which co-starred another step-brother, Patrick Cassidy, and was produced by Shaun Cassidy.

According to People.com, in the final years of Cassidy's life, he "struggled with alcohol abuse, resulting in three DUI arrests in five years. After a 2014 trip to rehab, he told family and friends that he had stopped drinking."

However, as People.com documented, in an A&E documentary that aired in 2018, Cassidy "made a shocking admission just two months before he died. 21 at the age of 67. After being rushed to the hospital when he fell ill in a recording studio, Cassidy called producers to explain what had happened.

"I have a liver disease,” Cassidy explained to A&E producer Saralena Weinfield in a recorded conversation. “There is no sign of me having dementia at this stage of my life. It was complete alcohol poisoning.”

Cassidy then followed up with a shocking confession. “The fact is that I lied about my drinking,” he said. “I did this to myself to cover up the sadness and the emptiness.”

It was a sad ending to a remarkable and talented individual who brought so much joy to the world.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS: A TREASURE HOUSE OF DECEMBER MEMORIES REVEALED, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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