TNS photo by Jeffrey Geller
The death of former teen idol David Cassidy has me thinking back to our lunch together in 1994. Here's the story that ran a few days later:
Meet Keith Partridge in 1994.
"I think he's a hairdresser. He went from crushed velvet to Liza's old suits, became a drag queen. Now he has his own beauty parlor: Keith's Coiffure." David Cassidy put down his soup spoon and laughed. "Hey, I'm just winging this."
For years, producers have tried to stage a Partridge Family reunion, with Keith as a stockbroker, or maybe a nightclub owner. Cassidy, who made Keith a teen rage during the 1970s, has his own
"They've tried to suuuck me back in," he said, mimicking Al Pacino's Godfather. "But the only way I'd play it is an HBO satire. I've never had a problem sending myself up."
In fact, he's making a whole summer of it. Cassidy chatted over lunch at the Radisson Hotel Monday, promoting his new book, "C'Mon, Get Happy . . . Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus."
The 241-page paperback is a chatty read about becoming an overnight success and all the trappings that came with it: Tiger Beat magazine, sold-out stadium shows, hit records, willing girls in every hotel lobby.
But that was never his dream (well, except for the girls). As the son of veteran stage actor Jack Cassidy and the stepson of star Shirley Jones, Cassidy pined for the legit stage since he was a teenager. That idol gig just got in the way.
"I had everything I wanted - except creative expression," said Cassidy, dressed casually in a blue denim shirt with the top button undone, looking two decades younger than his 44 years.
"I created this total airhead. He was a bimbo, and people thought that was me. They don't take you seriously if you appeal to young people, like it's less important."
But Cassidy won't throw dirt on the Partridges. Ask him and he'll sing one of the classic tunes and talk about the old days. Not so with his old costar, Susan Dey who moved on to fame in "L.A. Law."
Cassidy reveals in the book that they were best of friends during the show's run, but had a short romantic encounter after the last taping. Cassidy writes that he couldn't commit. After all, she was his younger sister.
"I'm told that she's," he hesitated a moment and stabbed at his salad, "unwilling to acknowledge that she was in the Partridge Family." They had remained friends after the show's run and even walked on the beach the day after she auditioned for "L.A. Law."
Since then they haven't talked much.
"She's changed a lot," said Cassidy, who sent Dey a copy of the book and heard from her manager that she wished him luck.
Another old friend who Cassidy claims has changed is Don Johnson, who checked into the Betty Ford Center last week. They were buddies in their teens, but Cassidy writes that after "Miami Vice,"
Johnson turned into a blatantly rude egomaniac, who snubbed him badly at a party during the '80s.
"I was more than kind to him in the book. I don't call him every name I could," Cassidy said. "If I saw him today, he'd probably apologize. He needs friends, because he doesn't have many. In Hollywood you hear Don Johnson stories. You never hear David Cassidy stories."
The "Johnson snub" came during a bad period for Cassidy. No one wanted to hire Keith Partridge for stage work or songwriting. But things have turned around in the past five years. Just one week ago he closed a 10-month run on Broadway, doing "Blood Brothers" with half-brother Shaun Cassidy.
The show is scheduled for the Twin Cities in late October, featuring Petula Clark. Cassidy said he originally told producers he didn't want to go on the road, but he's already rethinking his decision.
"I miss it. I keep thinking, `What time is it? I need to get to the theater,' " he said. "I would love to go through America with a show. It's so good for me to hear people walk out of a theater saying, `My God, I never thought he could do that.' "
During the lean years, before the Broadway success, Cassidy never regretted stepping away from the teen-idol business.
"It's inevitable that I went out of fashion," he said. "I walked away from it with my integrity, because I didn't want to end up being some tragic clown, sitting in some hotel lounge."
Now he's spending the next two weeks plugging the book. Then it's another stab at TV. He's working on a possible NBC sitcom vehicle for next year. He's trying to get back on top - this time, on his terms.
"The '90s have been good to me," he said. "The pendulum swings and then it comes back."
Amazing but true facts on David Cassidy:
- David's father, veteran stage actor Jack Cassidy, turned down the
role of buffoon newscaster Ted Baxter in "The Mary Tyler Moore
Show." The character was written with him in mind.
- David Cassidy had a serious relationship with "Partridge Family"
guest star Meredith Baxter, who later headed her own TV clan on
"Family Ties." Cassidy claims that his rising fame and a kidnapping
threat against him, which kept them apart, killed the romance.
Baxter went on to marry actor David Birney. Cassidy later had a
five-year marriage to Emmy-award-winning actress Kay Lenz.
- Shortly after Cassidy "retired" from show business in 1974, he met
with David Bowie about cutting an album featuring songs written by
rock stars like Bowie and Lou Reed. Cassidy said he turned it down
because he didn't want to go back on tour at that time.
- Cassidy was the first artist to record "I Write the Songs," which
was a hit in England. A record executive heard his version and
brought it to Barry Manilow, who soon made it his signature song.
- Cassidy wrote and recorded the theme song for "The John
Larroquette Show." He submitted the audition tape anonymously under
the pseudonym Blind Lemon Jackson.
- In 1977 Cassidy's agent tried to get him to star in a TV series
called "The Hardy Boys," a role he turned down. His half brother,
Shaun Cassidy, eventually starred in the show with Parker Stevenson,
and went on to become a "Tiger Beat" star.
From the book, "C'mon, Get Happy . . . " by David Cassidy and Chip