David Cassidy, the teen and pre-teen idol who starred in the 1970s sitcom “The Partridge Family” and sold millions of records as the musical group’s lead singer, died Tuesday at age 67.
NEW YORK — David Cassidy, the teen and pre-teen idol who starred in the 1970s sitcom “The Partridge Family” and sold millions of records as the musical group’s lead singer, died Tuesday at age 67.
Mr. Cassidy announced earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with dementia. Publicist JoAnn Geffen said Saturday that Mr. Cassidy was in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, hospital suffering from organ failure.
“The Partridge Family” aired from 1970-74 and was a fictional variation of the ’60s performers the Cowsills, intended, at first, as a vehicle for Shirley Jones, the Oscar-winning actress and Mr. Cassidy’s stepmother. Jones played Shirley Partridge, a widow with five children with whom she forms a popular act that travels on a psychedelic bus. Mr. Cassidy played eldest son and family heartthrob Keith Partridge, The show included Susan Dey, later of “L.A. Law” fame, as sibling Laurie Partridge and Danny Bonaduce as sibling Danny Partridge.
It was an era for singing families, such as the Osmonds and the Jacksons. “The Partridge Family” never cracked the top 10 in TV ratings, but the recordings under their name, mostly featuring Mr. Cassidy, Jones and session players, produced real-life musical hits and made Mr. Cassidy a real-life musical superstar.
The Partridges’ best known song, “I Think I Love You,” spent three weeks on top of the Billboard chart.
“In two years, David Cassidy has swept hurricane-like into the pre-pubescent lives of millions of American girls,” Rolling Stone magazine noted in 1972. “Leaving: six and a half million long-playing albums and singles; 44 television programs; David Cassidy lunch boxes; David Cassidy bubble gum; David Cassidy coloring books and David Cassidy pens; not to mention several millions of teen magazines, wall stickers, love beads, posters and photo albums.”
Mr. Cassidy’s appeal faded after the show went off the air, although he continued to tour, record and act over the next 40 years. He had a hit with “I Write the Songs” before Barry Manilow’s chart-topping version and success overseas with “The Last Kiss,” featuring backing vocals from admirer George Michael. He made occasional stage and television appearances.
Meanwhile, “The Partridge Family” remained popular in re-runs and Mr. Cassidy, who kept his dark bangs and boyish appearance well into middle age, frequently turned up for reunions and spoke often about his early success.
He was married and divorced three times, battled alcoholism, was arrested for drunk driving and in 2015 filed for bankruptcy. Mr. Cassidy had two children, musician Beau Cassidy and actress Katie Cassidy, with whom he acknowledged having a distant relationship.
“I wasn’t her father. I was her biological father but I didn’t raise her,” he told People magazine in 2017. “She has a completely different life.”
Mr. Cassidy himself was estranged from his father, actor Jack Cassidy and was half-brother of entertainer Shaun Cassidy. David Cassidy’s parents split up when he was 5 and he would long express regret about Jack Cassidy, who soon married Shirley Jones, being mostly absent from his life. David Cassidy stayed with his mother, actress Evelyn Ward, and by the early 1960s had moved to Los Angeles.