THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY – RIP DAVID CASSIDY “COME ON GET HAPPY”

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Partridge Family Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

It may seem inconceivable that a widow and her five children could become the nation’s most successful pop act, but it is the storyline that dominated the hit television series “The Partridge Family”. This is how it all began.

The Cowsills, were an all American family oriented singing group from Newport, Rhode Island. The band was formed in 1965, by brothers Bill, Bob, and Barry. Later they were joined by John, Susan, Paul and their mother Barbara. Bob’s twin brother Richard acted as Road Manager. It was the Family Cowsills, that were the inspiration behind the birth of “The Partridge Family”.

In the shows early development, the family Cowsill were all considered by the producers to play the characters, but as they weren’t trained actors, the offer was abandoned. However, if you were to ask the family Cowsills, you would hear a different version of events. When the Cowsills were approached, they were told that they would have to replace their mother with Shirley Jones, who had already been considered and was in talks to play the part. When the children realised that their own mother who was a part of the group wouldn’t be part of the show, they all pulled the plug on the whole idea.

Hense the producers hired a talent agency and they began the process of auditions for the parts of Laurie, Danny, Chris and Tracy. The part of Keith Partridge, eldest son went to Shirley’s step-son David Cassidy, an unknown small time actor, after a producer recommended him for the part.

In December 1969, the pilot of the show was filmed. It differed quite substantially to the version which aired in 1970. In the original, Shirley’s character is “Connie” and she had a boyfriend, played by Jack Cassidy, her real life husband at the time. They also lived in a different house at a different address.

In the pilot episode which did air, it started as a group of musical siblings, who lived in the fictitious city of San Pueblo, California, and decided to record a song in the hope of being discovered to help out their mother with the bills. After many failed attempts to get the harmony they needed to record their first song, they convince their widowed mother, a bankteller to join in as they record a pop song in their garage. The song worked, and young Danny then sets about getting Reuben Kincaid to manage them. After again many failed attempts, Reuben finally relents and listens to the demo who then turns the song into a hit. After some persuading, Shirley buys a old school bus which they all paint and depart for Las Vegas to play their first gig at Ceasars Palace.

Subsequent episodes usually featured the band either on tour performing at various venues or praciticing in their garage. After the first season, the writers chose to focus on the family staying more at home than on tour and having the most popular guest artists at the time introduced into their lives. Some of these included, Cheryl Ladd, Farrah Fawcett, Dick Clark, Jaclyn Smith, Meredith Baxter, Jodie Foster, Leonard Stone, to name a few.

In the beginning, series creator Bernard Slade and the two producers Paul Witt and Robert Claver didn’t care whether or not David could sing, knowing that his handsomely good looks would guarantee the shows success. However shortly after production began, David convinced music producer Wes Farrell that he was good enough to take on the role of lead singer. Apart from his step mothers harmonies which sometimes were heard in the background, David from this moment forward was to be the only member of the family who actually did sing and record on the albums that were released later, though all performances on the show were pre-recorded and never sung live.

The fictionalized family first debuted on September 25, 1970. Within two months, the show would have a number one hit with “I Think I love You” and become a national sensation. They achieved all this success despite the fact that the songs weren’t recorded by the fake family, but rather a team of highly trained singers and skilled musicians backing David Cassidy and sometimes backing vocalist Shirley Jones. The rest of the family lip-synced and pretended to play their instruments.

The Partridges had a dog called “Simone” who featured in the first season but was fazed out in the second.

 

 

 

SHIRLEY JONES

Shirley Partridge – Mother

Shirley Jones was the only child born to Marjorie and Paul Jones on March 31, 1934 and was named after child star Shirley Temple. Shirley Jones started singing at the age of six. She started formal training at the age of 12 and would dream of singing with her idol,Gordon MacRae. She would later appear alongside Gordon in Oklahoma. Whilst a teenager and studying drama, she was crowned Miss Pittsburgh, after winning a singing contest at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, a title that was to later start her on her path to a career in show business. Jones was well known for her appearances in several musicals made in the 1950’s and 1960’s, her most noted, Oklahoma! and The Music Man. Opportunities continued to come her way and she landed leading roles in April Love (1957) and Never Steal Anything Small (1959) which paired her with leading man James Cagney.

Her last musical was Carousel in 1956. Musicals were a dying art and movies changed in the 60’s and Shirley’s wholesome image did not fit, so she would see her movie career stop in 1965. When she was offered a position in the film “Elmer Grantry” she knew it was one that she could use as a vehicle to shed her girl next door image, as the role was that of a jilted girlfriend turned prositute. This role earned her an Acadamy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Even though Shirley had carved out a very successful  career in movies, it would always be her role as Shirley Partridge that she would be remembered for. While the success of the show would do more for her teen idol stepson David, the show would keep her name and face in public view for the four years that the series ran.  When the show ceased, Shirley focussed on telemovie roles for the rest of the 70’s.

Whilst travelling as part of a European stage production of Oklahoma, she met and fell in love with Jack Cassidy. In 1956, she married Jack and in doing so became stepmom to 6 year old David Cassidy his son. In 1958, together they had Shaun and Patrick and Ryan soon followed.

Through the years

 In 1970, not many offers were coming Shirley’s way. She was offered the role of Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, declining the offer, opening the doors for her dear friend Florence Henderson. Shortly some time later, she was approached again to star as Shirley Partridge in another family sitcom, but this time it also opened the door for her step-son Keith to work with her who at the time was a young out of work up and coming actor.

After reading the story line, Shirley was convinced the show would be a hit and accepted the role, and recommended her son David for the role of Keith Partridge. Well that is one version, another was that Shirley in fact had no idea that David was auditioning for the role until they bumped into each other after the producer wanted him to meet the lead actress Shirley. As the story goes, she retored “what are you doing here” to which David replied “What are you doing here”. David then said, Im here to audition for the part of the eldest son, and she said well I’m the mother.

Whatever the reason for the introduction to the show, I am quite confident that he landed the role with some type of influence coming from his mother.

When The Partridge family finished, Jack’s was diagnosed with a mental illness which later worsened and his manic depression deepened. In 1974, after years of abuse, Shirley divorced Jack.  Jack died in an apartment fire in December of 1976.

A year later Shirley met Comedian Marty Ingels, and they married. After 25 years married, both decided to separate due to complications and tension with her sons. The separation only lasted 6 months before the two were reunited and have remain together to this very day.

DAVID CASSIDY

KEITH Partridge – OLDEST BROTHER

David is an accomplished actor, singer/songwriter and guitarist. David was one of pop cultures most successful teen idols of the 70’s thanks to his career as Keith Partridge. David still performs today and tours the world with his own band often rumaging through his huge dossier of songs from both his own career and with that of his fabricated family.

David Bruce Cassidy was born 12 April 1950 to Actor jack Cassidy and actress Evelyn Ward. As his parents often travelled with their work, David was mostly raised by his maternal grandparents in West Orange, New Jersey.

One day, after playing with neighbouring children, he found out that both parents had actually been divorced for the previous two years, unbeknown to him. His most vivid childhood memory comes from the age of 5 nearly 6, when he was playing with a couple of neighbours out in the street in front of his home and they begin to taunt him with the casual cruelty children have, “Hey Wartie” your parents are divorced. He obtained the name Wartie because his grandparents last name was Ward. Through Davids innocence to quite grasp the concept, he retorted, No they’re not, maybe in a play or movie but not in real life. Due to his tender age, his parents felt it better for his emotional stability not to raise it at that particular time. David runs inside for reassurance, and asks his mother. She takes a long breath and says simply, ask your father, you are going to see him next weekend. After finding out about the divorce, from that day forward, David struggled with trust, and had problems with rejection, and finding lastingl, loving relationships.

At the age of six, Jack Cassidy who had been dating Shirley Jones, decided to marry and three half brothers were born, Shaun (1958), Patrick (1962) and Ryan (1966). When David became a teenager, it was decided he would move in with Jack, Shirley and his half brothers in her house in Beverly Hills. He remained there seeking fame and fortune as an actor/singer. Later in life Davids father would be diagnosed as manic depressive, and shortly before his death in 1976, he was briefly committed to a mental hospital. Also after his death, David learnt that he was bisexual and had an extended relationship with the songwriter Cole Porter. Nothing David heard of his father surprised him. David was full of anger towards his father and as a result and grew increasingly wild and undisciplined, as he felt shunned, as if he’d done something wrong, that his father, moved to California and started another family with Shirley. He felt rejected and alone. After his mother re-married and decided to move to California so David could be closer to his father, he decided school was a waist of time so he grew his hair long, dyed it blonde, and started playing guitar in bands with various friends. He began smoking cigarettes at 13 and had his first joint at 15. Over the next few years, he found himself experimenting with LSD, cocaine, heroin, mescaline, speed, THC, barbituates and more.

That wasn’t all David got up to. He had raging hormones and reached puberty early, at around 11 years old, and had an incredible appetite for sex. David’s earliest experience was when he was nine and played around touching up a friends older sister. By the time he was 12 he was making out with 15 year olds and at 13 he lost his virginity. He made his debut in the Broadway musical “The Fig Leaves are Falling” however it closed just after 4 perfomances. After signing with Universal Studios in 1969, David appeared in a few TV series. But it was his role as Keith Partridge which gave him a platform to success. David wanted to concentrate on serious drama so he wasn’t too interested when his agent Ruth Aarons suggested his audtion for the part of Keith in an upcoming televsion series ‘The Partridge Family”. He somewhat reluctantly accepted the part, about a happy go lucky teenager, three years younger than his age at the time 19. If anyone had told David that by year end he would be a household name, a best selling recording artist and have his picture on the back of a pack of Rice Krispies, he would have asked what drugs they were on.

In fact, David almost wrecked the whole thing before it happened, thanks to his own enthusiasm for drugs. One day before the first show had aired, David and some friends drove some girls into the mountains above Malibu in his 1968 Mustang. One of the guys had brought some peyote buttons, hallucinogenics which come from the cactus plant, and they crushed them into milkshakes. They tasted so bad that David threw up a few times, and pretty soon they were all high. Once they were in the wilderness, they all stripped off and he kept referring to himself as “Soaring Eagle”. His nervious system was all over the place, but he felt really good, getting in tune with nature and all that surrounded him. They all ended up sunning themselves sharing a joint as they lay on the rocks. All of a sudden they heard this whirling sound and a voice saying, “Go back to the road”. One minute in paradise the next Davids career was about to fall apart as with a drug conviction, he would surely lose his job on the Partridge Family. To his amazement, as they found nothing in the car stronger than asprin, they were given a ticket for illegal parking and told to move on. David later recalls being too wired to sleep for almost two days.

The song “I think I love you” became a huge hit, so David took advantage of the timing to record his first solo album. Within the first year he had produced his own single “Cherish” and began touring. Though he always aspired to be more of a rock musician like Mick Jagger or Alice Cooper, his good boy looks, and squeeky clean image, launched him into the ranks of teen idol, a brand he loathed at the time but came to accept later in his career.

David generally got along well with all the cast except for his on screen baby brother Chris played by Jeremy Gelbwaks. It was no secret that Jeremy had issues with all his fellow cast members, especially David and Danny Bonaduce. But it didn’t stop at them, he also had issues with the casting and stage hands too. Each morning on the way to the studio, David would have to meet a friend a few hundred yards away from the studio, park and leave his car and lie down on the floor in the back of his friends car so he could ride in through the gates unseen. Security at home became a huge issue too. Women showed up unanounced, uninvited, and at all hours. It may have been every mans fantasy come true, and yes David didn’t knock them all back, but some fans were obviously unbalanced. He often received letters from girls who seriously thought they had some kind of relationship with him, even though he had never seen or met them before.

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of David Cassidy Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Before one concert somewhere in New Jersey, he took his clothes off in the primitive trailer which served as his dressing room and was standing there naked, looked for somewhere to take a pee before he put on his stage costume. There was no toilet and all he could find was a plastic cup. Suddenly, David heard these squeaky, high-pitched sounds coming from the cupboard underneath the sink. For a moment David was thinking: ‘What is that? Mice? Rats?’ Then he heard the laughter. David saw eyes looking at him through an opening. It turned out that two girls had been hiding in the trailer for 21 hours, waiting to meet him. They had stockpiled fruit, drinks and bananas to keep them going and now they were unable to stop giggling at the sight of their idol, naked and trying to pee into a cup. David just lost it, he told them to get out of my trailer in no uncertain terms.

Danny Bonaduce, who played Davids smart-alec middle brother, had a violent father who beat him up regularly. He was a pretty wild kid, who lost his virginity at 13 to a girl who’d come to meet David on set. You could see Danny was heading for trouble and later in life he was arrested for trying to buy crack cocaine on a street corner. Then he got into trouble for beating and robbing a transvestite prostitute in Phoenix, Arizona. David always really liked him and thought he deserved forgiveness. There was a lot of pressure for all the cast of The Partridge Family. Susan Dey, who played his sister, was desperately afraid of gaining weight and started living on carrots. Her skin turned noticeably orange.

Susan was gorgeous to look at, however had absolutely no acting experience at all when she was signed on. Its quite amazing how quickly she learnt and during her time on the show, became a wonderfully talented actress. Danny would often climb up onto the roof of Susan’s trailer and play peeping tom whilst she would change between scenes. To his surprise one day, he found both Susan and David together in a very compromising position. David was two years older and after Danny went public with their affair, David had no choice but to confirm the discrete affair. However, Susan to this very day has neither confirmed or denied it. Shirley wouldn’t confirm either, but did say that Susan had a huge crush on him, so its possible. Sex presented itself to David numerous times during the course of any given day. He was young, and was always ready, and they were all so willing. He’d later admit that he did things that he now thinks were degrading for the women involved, and for that he’s quite ashamed. At the time, though, it seemed impossible to resist. David’s always been very comfortable with his sexuality and his brothers call him ‘Donk’ – as in Donkey referring to the size of his appendage.

   

David also had a brief affair with the Italian sex goddess Gina Lollobrigida who was twice my age. Women threw themselves at David. One night David and few of the blokes were having drinks around midnight when they heard the buzzer go on the gate. David and his mate Steve went down to investigate and before they could even see the girls reflection, she was already down on bended knee with her face pressed up between the slates of the gate. She got to know the boys very well that night, under the stars, through the holes in the gate. Many groupies would try any means to get to meet David, even exposing themselves with full frontal nudity. Of course there were the opportunists who hoped to meet David to use him to either advance their own acting or singing careers, or just interested in his money.

As Davids fame grew, so did his fear of never finding a meaningful relationship. He became reclusive and retreated increasingly into his shell. This was when David started to see a phychiatrist to help him deal with it. One woman David did fall heavily for was Meredith Baxter who was double his age. They started dating after she made a guest appearance on the show. They had been dating for about a month when David received a call from his agent telling him to leave the house immediately, alone. The Los Angeles Police Department had been tipped off that two guys planned to kidnap David for a multi-million-dollar ransom. For the next two months, David had to live in a hotel under tight security. Initially there were FBI agents in the room on one side and LAPD officers on the other. David’s agent decided to hire David his very own Bodyguard who was instructed to sleep in the same room as David. This completely disrupted his relationship with Meredith and it eventually fazed out.

Fame didn’t only affect David’s relationships. The more popular he became, the harder it was to find accommodation, as the best hotels didn’t want David staying with them, as they didn’t want to be besieged with his fans, so instead David had to stay in shabby motels somewhere in the suburbs. Crazy here he was one of the highest paid male solo artists, in the world at that time, yet he had to stay in a 2 or 3 star motel room. David started to question his lifestyle. He felt he was living like a monkey in a cage. In one particular interview the host dismissed David as a ‘bubble gum star” whose bubble would soon burst. It certainly hit a nerve as David was far from happy with his career and where it was going himself. More and More, he began to resent the David the public saw. The sweet imaged teen idol wasn’t the real David and he knew it, so soon after a concert at Madison Square Garden, David made a decision that many around would consider to be professional suicide. He agreed to let a music magazine Rolling Stone send their writer Robin Green, a woman known for her revealing interviews, to travel around with David for a few days with virtually unrestricted access to his life. Robyn’s agenda was to find out anything that would be shocking and controversial where as David hoped he would be profiled in a serious and respected manner, showing the public who he really was and dealing with his frustrations at being pigeonholed as a cheesy teen idol pop star. Robyn took all the misleading, misguided things she saw and ran with it. One time as they arrived for a concert in Maine, she watched as David jumped into a limousine which contained two women wearing nothing but bikinis with lollipops stuck all over their bodies, a present from the promoters. After the show, she overheard David yelling at his business manager to find the women and make sure they ended up in his bedroom. Then back home in LA, she went with David to the house he shared with his two friends Sam and Steve and saw Sam sunning himself naked while she interviewed David. She also saw a half-empty bottle of alcohol in his room and the room smelt of pot. It may not sound like much, but to her, it was enough. David explained that the pot wasn’t his, but Robyn chose to imply in the article that he was using illegal drugs. She also wrote the article in such a way that confirmed he wasn’t able to have a long a meaningful relationship with any women as he was a homosexual. But that wasn’t the end, the final nail in the coffin came from the photo shoot to accompany the article. It was done by Annie Leibovitz, the best photographer in the world and she asked David to be photographed in the nude for The Rolling Stone Magazine. David thought at the time, “Great Idea”. David’s manager went crazy and begged David not to do it, but he went ahead anyway. They promised the picture would be very tasteful. The fallout was more dramatic than David could ever have envisioned. The TV bosses and executives hated it. The Partridge Family was just about the last gasp of real innocence on TV, yet here David was, violating the trust of young Americans posing nude and being associated with drugs and alcohol. The backlash didn’t take long, sponsors started pulling out of the show, Bob Hope backed out of doing a TV special with David, and food manufacturer General Mills threatened to stop using David to endorse its products.

By Autumn of 1973, the Partridge/Cassidy craze was over. The shows rating, and David’s record sales began to fall at a rapid pace. In David’s heart, he wasn’t sorry. At 23, every day he was made to sit in a chair for hours to receive three layers of makeup  to try and preserve a youthful teenage appearance.

Ten albums by The Partridge Family and five solo albums were produced during the show with most selling over a million copies each. This propelled David as an instant drawcard with spectacular sellout concerts in all the major arenas around the world. These concerts produced mass hysteria, resulting in the media coining the term “Cassidymania”. By the time he reached Australia in 1974, the mass hysteria was so intense and out of control, there were calls to have him deported especially after the madness at this concert at the MCG.

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of David Cassidy Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The turning point in Davids life was a gate stampede which killed a teenage girl at a show in Londons White City Stadium. 650 people were injured in the crush at the front of the stage. Thirty were taken to hospital and one 14 year old was crushed to death. A deeply affected David faced the press and announced that out of respect for the family and his fear it would turn into a media circus, he would not attend the funeral. He did however have a private meeting with her parents and did send flowers. To this very day, he is haunted by that day, and says it will haunt him till the day he dies. At night David suffered insomnia and by day, he was burnt out and lethargic. He decided the only way to get a grip on his own life again was to pull out of show business entirely. By this point, David had had enough, and decided to pull out of public appearances, and quit both touring and the Partridge Family, concentrating on recording and song writing instead. His international success continued with the successful release of a further three solo albums. The problem he had was he never quite knew if his fans loved him for David, or the manufactured David they were use to seeing on the screen. This tormented David so much that the easiest course of action was to just shut down and try and dull his existence with alcohol. For six months David would lock himself in his room, sitting alone, talking to himself for hours upon hours, trying to figure out his life whilst smoking and drinking large quantities of alcohol. At this point in Davids life, his father aproached him seemingly wanting to become closer with him. He was gambling and had lost a lot of money. David also found out that his father was cheating on his step mother Shirley, which hurt him terribly. What David recalls about this meeting with his father was that over the course of the weekend, he decided he needed some comfort from one of his friends, a girl from his show, he brought her home, slept with her and found out later she also that same weekend slept with his father.

Then his father dropped a bombshell on David. He needed $10,000. David told his father he didn’t have it as he knew if he gave it to him, he would just spend it on gambling, women and booze. That was to be the last time David saw his father alive.

One Saturday night in December 1976, David was partying with his friends. When the morning came around 5.00, David was awake with a few others as he was still wired up from the night before. The radio was playing in the background and that’s when he descovered that his father had passed on. By this time, his father was living separated from his stepmother and that night had been out drinking. When he returned home, he fell asleep on the couch, dropping a lit cigarette and starting a blaze which swept through the apartment taking him with it. The realisation of what had happened didn’t really hit David until he saw his stepmother and brothers. David later also found out that his father had cut him out of his will. He never really knew why. Perhaps he did it thinking that David was rich and could take care of himself, which was in fact the total opposite.

Jack, Shirley and David Cassidy

Between 1970 and 1974, David made about 4 million dollars. Yet a few years later after some shonky business deals by his business advisors, he was worth a mere $50,000.

Cassidy married first wife Kay Lenz, in 1977 after only knowing each other for six weeks and divorced in 1982. They both had just lost their fathers so found comfort in that. Kay did struggle though with Davids popularity, and especially fans who would cuddle, kiss, and flirt, and give him their phone numbers, that sort of thing right in front of her. Then on Davids part, he found it hard to live with a woman who was the main breadwinner in the family.

His second wife, Meryl Tanz was a wealthy sportswoman and successful horse breeder. It was she who introduced David into the world of thoroughbred horse racing. David was very attracted to her, however she was very unbalanced. After 18 months of fighting, crying, raging and screaming, David packed what he could into two suitcases and walked out never to return.

He left the house with no more than $500 in his pocket. He didn’t have a car, no job and nowhere to live. He was smoking and drinking way to much, to try and escape the direction of their lack of direction his life had taken. Struggling to afford rent, on a room in friends two bedroom flat, David soon faced another major drain on his finances. After a 15 year on and off affair with Sherry Williams, David welcomed his daughter Katherine Evelyn Cassidy (now a successful film actress). Sherry and David never married, nor did they live together after Katherines birth. Sherry moved in with her then lover physician Richard Benedon whom she did later marry and together they raised Davids daughter.

In 1986, David was hit with a paternity suit and now also had to find the money to pay child support. Some people might have thrown the towel in at this point in their lives, but somehow David always believed he had the talent and strength to make it through this darkness and one day he received a call which was to mark the beginning of his recovery. It was from and old girlfriend who David dated back in 1973. The beautiful singer/songwriter Sue Shifrin. They started seeing each other again. Sue was the support David needed, she didn’t care that he was a drunk, that he was a mess and had no money, she just cared about him. When someone can embrace you and love you at the lowest point in your life, it really makes a man think twice. They married in 1991 shortly before the birth of their son Beau, and David began to rebuild his life from the bottom up, working on stage musicals, pursuing his passion for breeding horses and resuming his concert career.

In 2010 David was arrested in Florida for a DUI which resulted in him checking himself into rehab. Davids turning point came after his arrest and another uncontrollable drinking session after his son Beau, pleeded to him “Dad, you’ve got to stop this”. It really brought it home to him that he had to address the problem and straight away.

David’s long road ahead, took another turn in  February 2017 when he was diagnosed with  non- Alzheimer’s dementia, the very same condition that his mother suffered from, at the end of her life.

Sadly for David, today Wed 22 November, it was announced that David passed away overnight from kidney and liver failure with family and close friends around him. Cassidy was admitted over a week ago when his doctors placed him into a medically induced coma.  He was later allowed to wake, drifting in and out of consciousness, whilst they waited for a liver donor to become available. David’s condition was stable, but his doctors told his family to be prepared for the worst.  David passed away 21 November 2017, aged 67.

The Cassidy brothers

 

Susan dey

Laurie Partridge – OLDEST sister

Of all the children other than David, only Susan Dey oulr maintain a high profile acting career, her most notable, re-inventing herself as legal beagle Grave Van Owen, a high powered attorney in L.A. Law.

The long straight hair of Laurie Partridge had been cut off to a stylish bob, her voice a trifle deeper than before, Dey proved one of the series main attractions over a six year run.

Dey was born Susan Hallock Smith in Pekin, Illinois, the daughter of Gail Dey, a nurse who passed away from pnemonia when Dey was only eight years old, and Robert Smith, a newspaper editor. Out of her mothers memory, she legally changed her name to Dey. She went to and graduated from Fox Lane High School in Bedford, New York.

Dey was working as a model before she made her debut on the Partridge Family. She had never acted a day in her life, and was 17 years old when she won the part of Laurie Partridge.

David Cassidy has documented in his biography that he and Dey had a sexual romance during their time on the show. Dey to this day, is yet to confirm or deny this. Oddly enough, she has always remained absent from any Partridge Family, reunion specials since the announcement and has repeatedly, ignored Davids requests to make contact.

Dey has many movies and television series appearances to her credit since leaving the show and continues to be approached with a selection of scripts and movie offers to this day

Dey was married to Lenny Hirshan and together, they have a daughter Sarah. The marriage ended in divorce in 1981. Dey then married television producer Bernard Sofronski and they have been together since.

 

Danny bonaduce

Danny Partridge – middle BROTHER

Dante Daniel Bonaduce was born on 31 August 1959 in Broomall, PA to television writer and producer Joseph Bonaduce and his wife Betty Steck. Even before Danny was born, Joseph struggled with the demand of his day to day working schedule. When Danny success began to generate more work for Joseph, friction developed between the two. Danny would later claim physical and mental abuse at the hands of his over dominating father. It has been well documented over the years, that extra makeup was often required to cover up scars and brusing. Also his co-stars often stepped in to help ease the situation at home by offering him a place to stay in their own.

Bonaduce attended California Prep High School in Encino, CA alongside fellow classmates, Micheal Jackson and Christian Brando. Although he is more noted for his role of Danny on the show, he was in fact a veteran child actor and a S.A.G. cardholder by the age of 11.

As a member of the fictional family, and like most of his co-stars, Bonaduce did not actually sing or play an instrument. Nor did he become a teenage heartthrob like his character on the show either, that was left for David Cassidy who did actually play guitar and sing on the show.

The one thing Bonaduce did do was exhibit a natural flair for comedy and his well executed delivery, made him an instrumental part of the cast and driving force behind most of the stories.

After the show, Bonaduce’s career became a study of habit and disarray. Some highs, and many lows, including working as a stable boy for Kenny Rogers, years as a cocaine addict with multiple arrests. Bonaduce has spent quite a huge amount of his life in and out of rehab, not quite understanding why he cant take back control of his life.

Bonaduce also made the odd televsion appearance here and there on shows like Married with Children, and Fantasy Island.

Bonaduce first married Setsuko Hattori in 1985, and divorced her three years later. But then, the somewhat wayward Bonaduce met his soul mate two years later on a blind date.

He impulsively married the former Gretchen Hilmer. Together they had a daughter first Countess Isabella Michaela Bonaduce, and then a son Count Dante Jean Michel Valentino Bonaduce.

In 2005, the family Bonaduce became part of reality television often highlighting their disfunctional relationship on “Breaking Bonaduce”. Viewers watched in disbelief as Bonaduce shot himself up with steriods, drank a bottle of vodka straign, and had to be physically restrained from beating up everyone from the shows producers to his own personal minders. He has even attempted suicide, thankfully off camera.

Perhaps due to his lifestyle and real life misadventures, this could have held back Bonaduce’s acting career. Always one with the gift of the gab, Bonaduce changed his focus to radio broadcasting in the 90’s. Once upon a time he DJ’d on two radio stations in two different cities at the same time. With a buffed physique, a clean, sober an employed Bonaduce took on a job an evening radio talk show host in Chicago, where he once lived in a loft with his wife Gretchen , who also served as his booking agent. However this didn’t last for long, his job or his relationship.

After 18 years together, Gretchen decided to call it quits. In November 5, 2008, Gretchen filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.

Danny married Amy Railsback in Hawaii after meeting at Starbucks in Los Angeles in 2007.

Despite the demons and dark times Bonaduce has faced in the past, he seems to be a survivor and continues to bounce back after each setback. The jury is out on his next venture and relationship.

Jeremy Gelbwaks

Chris Partridge – youngest BROTHER

(1970 – 1971)

When Jeremy Gelbwaks walked into his new sixth-grade class at Hunters Wood in Reston Va., having just finished filming his only season playing Chris, his acting career was over. The reason, his father Norman, a U.S. governement employee had been transferred from L.A. As the show was still quite fresh, and extremely popular, total pademonium broke out. Whilst he enjoyed his year with the show, and he enjoyed the time immensely, when the realization kicked in he was no longer a Partridge, he struggled to come to terms with it for some time.

Gelbwaks turned from stage to science. Currently living in New Orleans with his wife Patricia, Gelbwaks works for a mahor computer services company as a business and technology planner. He became a computer analyst whilst studying chemistry at Berkeley back in 1983. Even though he went down this path, he never completely got show business out of his system, and took a brief stab at performing at method acting, however wasn’t really that good, so then her served as a production assistant on films in New York.

Gelbwaks, confesses, even if he’d have stayed with the show, there was no guarantee he would have become famous, as most of the attention was directed at Susan Dey and David Cassidy.

Brian Forster

Chris Partridge – youngest BROTHER

(1971 – 1974)

The second Chris in the show, traded the Hollywood fast track for the racetrack.

Forster now 11 years old, was already making commercials by the time he was asked to replace Jeremy Gelbwaks as Chris Partridge. Forster is the stepson of actor Whit Bissell, step-grandson of actor Alan Napier, who portrayed Alfred the Butler in the Batman televison series, and the great great great grandson of author Charles Dickens.

When the show ended, Forster just wanted to be a normal kid for a while and totally give away acting. Shifting gars, Forster became a race car driver and instructor. Forster says, “theres more mental work involved than people give it credit for”. Forster now lives in Sebastopol, California and has the Pacific Coast Road Racing Championship to his credits and continues to act in community theatre when time permits.

In contrast to his own broken home environment, arriving on set of The Partridge Family was a wonderful safe haven for Forster during his early teens. Shirley Jones took the young Forster under her wings and was like a surogate mother to him. He even had a brief puppy love romance with his co-star Suzanne Crough, but it never went passed innocent kissing.

He did however get his first French kiss from a young actress who had a guest appearance on the show, and it happened at the top of the staircase which led no-where.

Forsters only regret from the Partridge experience, he wished he could have remained a kid a little longer.

 

 

Suzanne Crough

Tracy Partridge – youngest sister

Who could forget tambourine tapping little sister Tracy, played by Suzanne Crough. Until recently, she owned a bookstore in Temcula, California. She is married, to her highway patrolman husband William Condray. The also have two daughters, Samantha and Alexandra.

After the show, Crough made several Television movies and had many guest appearances.

The youngest of eight children of a motor-scooter dealer and a housewife, Crough, who grew up in L.A., followed two of her acting brothers into commercials. Post-Partridge, she landed a few supporting roles, did more commercials and later took jobs waitressing, parking cars and working for her father. She admits she sometimes misses show business. “When I saw A League of Their Own,” she recalls, “I said, ‘I could’ve been in that picture.’ It would’ve been fun.”

Crough died suddenly at her home in Laughlin, Nevada, on April 27, 2015, at the age of 52. The cause of death was not immediately reported, but Las Vegas police issued a statement that it was due to a “medical episode” and was “not suspicious. Crough’s cause of death was arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia a very rare form of cardiomyopathy.

Many years later, Susan’s character “Tracy” on the Partridge family was often confused with Susan Olsen’s character as “Cindy” on the Brady Bunch.

Dave Madden

Reuben Kinkaid – Road Manager

Dave Madden had been acting way before his appearance on The Partridge family, however it was the success of the show, that made him a household name and gave him notoriety.

As the story goes, the children are in the garage, trying to put together a song they could sell to help their single mother with the ongoing bills. Even though the song was good, it became great when Shirley joined in. Now all they needed was a manager. Through the efforts of 10 year old Danny Partridge, he finds Reuben Kincaid and doesn’t let up until he agrees to sign the group and make the song a hit. The hilarious antics of Danny, which often got Reuben into trouble, played out as a modern day Laurel and Hardy.

 

However, the partnership didn’t end just onset for these two. Bonaduce has said that he owes a lot to Madden, who took him into his home during his family’s domestic strife.

Madden later made many guest appearances on other hit television shows, Bewitched, Happy Days, The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. He had a recurring role on “Alice” as one of the customers in Mel’s Diner and Tommy’s basketball coach Earl Hicks.   His last guest appearance was that of Dr. Egglehoffer on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Madden then began voice over work as several other characters on other shows.

Whilst on the Partridge Family, Madden took a particular interest in photography, taking pictures of all the cast and their day to day activities both on and off set. He has turned this facination into a full time hobby.

A long time chain smoker, Madden quit cold turkey after the show. In his memoirs, she has documented that he doesn’t get along with Shirley Jone’s husband Marty Ingels, and has limited access to her as a result.

Madden married Nena Arnold in 1975, and they adopted two children a boy Peter and girl Selena, but the marriage didn’t last very long ending in divorce in 1985. He later re-connected with his college sweetheart Sandy Martin, and they married in 1998. Madden died on January 16, 2014 whilst in hospice care in Jacksonville Florida whilst receiving treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome. Madden was 82..

Remember the bus, then…………..

………………And now

 

 

 

The show was a great commercial succes, spawning massive amounts of spin off merchandise and opportunites, including a series of albums, and even a cartoon.

 In the 20 years of so since all the children and their manager have flew the nest, most have struggled to heed their shows theme song and just “get happy”

DOUG PARKINSON

AUSTRALIAN MUSIC LEGEND

Article written with the full support of Doug and Suzie Parkinson

Doug Parkinson has enjoyed a 4 decade long and remarkably varied career in the Australian Music Fraternity, Stage, Musical Theatre, Acting and Advertising. He is regarded as one of Australia’s finest veteran vocalists, and one of the truly versatile talents amongst the Australian Musical Industry.

With a sound that is instantly recognizable and unmistakable, yet with a versatility that enables him to be equally at home in almost every popular genre including soul, R&B, pop, psychedelic and heavy rock, jazz, swing and musicals, Parkinson will radiate in the Entertainment Industry for many years to come.

Doug Parkinson formed his first band with the children of legendary test cricketer Sid Barnes, back in the mid 60’s called “Strings and Things”. The band had minor success, so a year later in 1967, Parkinson decided to leave and team up with some of Sydney’s best musical minds to form a band called “The Questions” led by Rory Thomas and began exploring psychedelic rock. Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music originating in the mid 1960’s characterized by musical experimentation and drug related lyrics.

Their first recordings established the band as one of the more innovative and interesting acts in the rapidly evolving music industry.

In 1968, the group got a big break when asked to be one of the two support acts to join The Who / Small Faces / Paul Jones “Big Show” Australia/New Zealand Tour. The other support act was Billy Thorpe.

The “Big Show” tour by The Who, The Small Faces and ex Manfred Mann vocalist Paul Jones should have been a dream ticket, but it turned out to be a disaster in many respects. Almost from the moment they stepped off the plane, the groups ran into conflicts with the establishment and media who saw them as a dangerous and corrupting influence.

In 1969, the group came second to winners “The Groop” in the finals of the prestigious “Hoadley’s Battle of the Sounds”. HBS was an annual national rock/pop band competition held in Australia from 1966 to 1972. The boys had to relocate to Melbourne performing at Festival Hall and this is where the story really begins.

Twelve months later, the band changed manpower and in the process, became a four piece band and took the name “Doug Parkinson In Focus”. With some of Sydney’s top musicians Billy Green (guitar), Mark Kennedy (drums) Duncan McGuire (bass), this allowed Doug as vocalist to showcase his powerful and yet very distinctive soulful voice. The band would later prove to be a benchmark in Australian rock folklore.

The band rose to prominence after recording a Beatles classic, “Dear Prudence” topping the charts. Parkinson re-interpreted the song and made it totally and unmistakably his own. He followed it up with another spectacular chart topper “Without You”.

They then recorded a third song “Baby Blue Eyes”. It was an instant success, but the single died soon after as a casualty of the notorious “Record Ban” which denied Australian artists airplay.

1970 and Parkinson relocates to London with a new band “Fanny Adams”. They record an album, however a year later, Parkinson returns to Australia to form a new band “In Focus”. They toured around doing the club/pub and festival thing, but couldn’t record during this time due to contractual restraints.

With no prospects of recording and two years behind him, Parkinson makes a huge decision to go solo.

1973 and Parkinson takes on his first major stage role in the production of “The Who’s Tommy”. This was a rock musical by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff based on The Who’s 1969 double album “Rock Opera Tommy”. The orchestral version was performed twice in Australia in March and April, to thousands at open air venues (Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl) and Sydney’s Randwick Racecourse). It featured local stars Daryl Braithwaite (as Tommy), Doug Parkinson, Billy Thorpe, Wendy Saddington, Jim Keays, Broderick Smith, Colleen Hewett, Linda George, Ross Wilson, Bobby Bright and Ian Meldrum.

Parkinson also found the time to record an album titled “No Regrets” with Polydor.

1975/76 and Parkinson was a very sort after musician, as stage/music and theatre performances beconed. He appeared in two shows, “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and Ned Kelly. He also had another top 10 hit with “Everlasting Love”.

1978 and Parkinson teams up with old friend Duncan McGuire to form the “Southern Star Band”. The group included Tommy Emmanuel (guitar) Mark Kennedy (drums) and Frank Esler-Smith (keyboards). Elsler-Smith later went on to record arrangements for the band “Air Supply”.

Together the band recorded an album titled “I’ll be around”. It guaranteed two top ten hits, with “The Hungry Years” and “I’ll be around”.

1979 Parkinson has his first crack as an actor in the television series “Young Doctors’ and is also hired as support act to what was to be legendary singer Bob Marley and the Wailers last tour.

In 1981, Parkinson went solo again to produce the album “Heartbeat to Heartbeat” which gained him another top 10 hit with his own rendition of The Walker Brothers “The Sun Aint Gonna Shine Anymore” with Broderick Smith.

Added to his vocal expertise is an imposing stage presence with a solid acting ability. This would have been a major contention in the selection process for the role of “Judas” in the early 80’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. The production toured for 12 months receiving rave reviews.

Many call on Parkinson’s talents for the world of advertising too. He has recorded packages for Coke, BHP, Toyota, Sanyo and a host of other corporate giants. He has also projected his voice to many radio stations for countless interviews and promotions.

Parkinson has shared the stage with many international artists to including The Who, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Pointer Sisters, Bob Marley and the Wailers, and Randy Crawford to name a few.

1985 and Parkinson is signed for acting roles in the telemovies “The Body Beautiful”, “Butterfly Island” and “Watch the shadows dance”.

1986, saw Parkinson co-writing the score for the surfing film “Wind Warriors” as well as co-writing the theme song “Willing and Able” for the series of the same name. He also was signed on in a starring role in the Kinsella’s production of “Soulman” which toured nationally.

1988 / 89 and another collaboration with Kinsellas “The Motown Story”. He produced and starred in “Destination Moon” a tribute to the big band era. Parkinson was on fire, and the obvious choice to play Pap Finn, in the hit musical “Big River” along side Drew Forsythe, John Bell, Cameron Daddo, Michael Edward Stevens and Karen Knowles. It was a major box office success, running for almost eighteen months and Doug featured on the Australian cast recording.

In the nineties, Doug’s career was dominated by stage shows and related tours. In late 1990, Doug appeared as “The Barrister” in a Sydney stage production of “The hunting of the Snark”, which led to an invitation to present the show in Sydney, and it had its world premiere in October for a sold out two week season at the State Theatre with the Elizabethan Theatre Orchestra and an all star cast including Doug, Phillip Quast, Jackie Love, Daryl Sommers and Cameron Daddo.

For most of 1990/93 Doug played the role of “The Big Bopper” in the hit musical “Buddy” with his rendition of “Chantilly Lace” being a show stopper every night.

1994 and Doug capitalized on the success of “Buddy” producing, directing and starring In “The Original Stars of Buddy In Concert”. It was a huge success, and toured consistently through capital cities and major regional centers for the next three years. Later in the year, Doug put together a new ten-piece band and performed several sold out shows in Sydney.

In 1997, the label Raven released “Doug Parkinson In and Out of Focus”.

1998 saw Doug playing the role of Vince Fontaine in Grease: The Mega Musical. It had record breaking box office success with seventy shows being sold throughout Australia and New Zealand.

1999 and another musical. This time, Parkinson played in another 50’s themed musical, as Al Delvecchio in the musical “Happy Days”. Even though this musical didn’t have the same success as others Parkinson had appeared in, he did gain public appreciation at each performance with his own rendition of “Unchained Melody”.

2001 and if you are looking for a star to play the cowardly lion along side Bert Newton, Philip Gould and Nikki Webster in “The Wizzard of Oz”, your obvious choice would be Parkinson.

Later that year at the annual Mo Awards, Parkinson was named “Classic Rock Performer of the Year”, a title so deserving, yet so overdue.

Parkinson then went on a mini club tour with fellow friend and soul singer Max Merritt. This was the first time these two legends had shared the stage together.

Mid 2002, and Parkinson took out his second “Classic Rock Performer of the Year” title at the 27th Mo Awards ceremony.

In 2003, he was one of the head lining acts taking part in the “Long Way To The Top, regional tour.

In 2004, Doug rekindled his passion to record again, by recording a cd, he likes to refer to as, “the songs as a boy”, he lay awake listening to on his bedroom radio somewhere after midnight.

Parkinson then joined musical producer John Foreman as one of the performers in the  “How Deep is your Love” tribute concert scheduled for 19/20 July 2013 at the Brisbane Riverstage. Over two grand evenings, Australia’s finest singers and musicians gathered to celebrate an extraordinary songbook of hits. Other artists included performances by Tina Arena, Anthony Callea, Katie Noonan, Darren Percival, and Rick Price to name a few.

Parkinson was made to captivate an audience. His enchanting and enticing performances have garnered critical acclaim in Australia and abroad.

 

As Parkinson’s website so graciously puts it, his career has included a great deal of success and some failures, lots of joy and many tears, plenty of passion and plenty of pain. Doug Parkinson has distinguished himself as a great survivor, an even greater performer, and a consummate professional, Doug Parkinson, we salute you.

Listen To Older Voices – The Life & Times of Hannah Sky

 Welcome to Listen To Older Voices,  
a program produced by Rob Greaves for Uniting Melba and podcast 
through the Toorak Times and Tagg.
Listen To Older Voices presents the stories, views and opinions of our older citizens. It is predominantly in a life & times format, with interviewees reflecting upon their lives from earliest memories. An underlying principal of the program is to promote the concept of positive ageing, reinforcing the principle that older people have & continue to make a valuable contribution to both their local & wider community.

 

This is the first part of a 3-part program on Hannah Sky. It was originally aired in August 2008 to celebrate the 500th LTOV Program. Hannah was the original producer of Listen To Older Voices and over these three programs we will learn something about Hannah, and her work in helping to establish this amazing series that just celebrated its 1000th program.

 

Part 1 focuses upon Hannah’s early years from her birth in 1965 and as we track through those early years we learn about her and her family in a most informative and entertaining way

Click to hear Hannah Sky – Part 1


Previous LTOV Programs can be accessed clicking on this icon – 

 

[Listen To Older Voices receives funding from the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Home Support Program Program]

BANANARAMA

Their success was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and before the Spice Girls, they were the biggest girl group in the world even surpassing the Supremes.

The Bands original lineup consisted of Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and Siobhan Fahey.

In the aftermath of punk, three girls came together with no obvious qualifications, but a vision to start their own pop group. These girls next door with attitude, spent the next seven years taking on the music industry. While success was attainable, it came at a huge cost, and almost cost the girls their friendship.

All three were in girl gangs when they were 12/13 years of age.  And as with most gangs, people argue and at one point no-one was speaking with Woodward, but Dallin really liked her, so against the gang, one evening in secret, she went to Woodward’s house and the girls made a pact that they would be best friends forever and that they wouldn’t need anyone else.

As soon as Fahey left school she left home wanting adventure. She was tired of living in suburbia and shortly after moving to London, she met Dallin. Dallin saw her across a room and as they dressed identically and had similar hair and features, Dallin knew that this person was going to become a good friend.

Dallin and Fahey went on to study journalism at London University, whilst Woodward tried to get a job with the BBC in London because she thought the job would be glamorous, and was shocked to later find out that she would be working in the finance department. She was chosen for this area, after the managers were impressed with her maths results. They invited her to join the pensions department which wasn’t really what she had in mind, so unfortunately her career in television never took off.

Woodward and Dallin then later bumped into Paul Cook from the sex pistols in a club and both girls were living at the YWCA at the time. And one Sunday morning, the girls got this message over the speaker there saying Paul Cook was in reception, and being little punk girls, they were so excited, so they ran down stairs and there he was. The girls eventually were thrown out of the YWCA for keeping late hours, and Paul Cook offered them a place to stay above the ‘Sex Pistols’ old rehearsal room in Denmark Street. It wasn’t flash, but it was a roof.

After the Sex Pistols broke up, Paul Cook and Steve Jones started another band called the Professionals and they would rehearse where the girls were now crashing. Every so often the girls would join in on the rehearsals as backup vocalists and they also taught the girls some guitar chords. And from this, they got the idea for Bananarama as it was Paul who suggested the girls should get a group together.

Cook ended up producing their first single ‘AIE A MWANA’ and it wasn’t long before they came to the attention of Terry Hall. He was looking though a magazine called ‘Face Magazine’ when he saw a small photo of the three girls who looked really scruffy and they said they were a band, but they didn’t look like a band, they just looked scruffy, but regardless of first appearances, he tracked the girls down.

They met and the girls told him that they weren’t professional singers, and he said, yes I know, even though the girls had made a record with the help of Paul Cook..

Hall tried to get the girls to perform on stage together with another group ‘Fun Boy Three’ doing backups for the song “It aint what you do, it’s the way that you do it’ , and they couldn’t sing. They knew when they were suppose to come in and when it was their time, rather than sing, they would burst out laughing.

The next song they all attempted was ‘Really Saying Something’ as the girls had already rehearsed it time and time again in the studio where they were living.

Before the girls knew it, both songs are in the charts and reach #5. They went on to support everyone from Iggy Pop to Paul Weller (Weller would later pen a track that appeared on their first album) and doing various television appearances. They have their pictures plastered all over every music and entertainment magazine in London, but oddly enough, all girls are still on the dole and taking showers at the local swimming pool.

For the next ten years the girls would record some of the catchiest tunes and produce some of the wackiest video clips to sell them. They became internationally hot property after their hit ‘Cruel Summer’ hit the US Billboard Top 10. They would later meet legendary Hollywood actor Robert De Niro after recording a song ‘Robert De Niro’s waiting’ (talking Italian).

By the time the third single from their forth album was released in 1988, Fahey who had married Eurythmics frontman Dave Stewart, left the group after becoming disillusioned with the direction the band was taking. She also felt socially excluded by the other two members of the band who had been best friends longer. After her exit, Jacquie O’Sullivan (formerly from the ‘Shillelagh Sisters) would join the group. Fahey would later resurface in the award winning pop duo ‘Shakespears Sister’ with Marcella Detroit.

Bananarama would go on to record 10 albums that included ‘Deep Sea Skiving ‘(1983), Bananarama (1984), ‘True Confessions’ (1986), ‘Wow’ (1987), ‘Pop Life’ (1991), ‘Please Yourself’ (1993), ‘Ultra Violet’ (1995), ‘Exotica’ (2001), ‘Drama’ (2005), ‘Viva’ (2009).

Since 1992, Woodward and Gallin have continued to perform under the group name Bananarama as a duo. In 2013, Dallin posted on her twitter account that she and Woodward were writing new tracks together.

 

 

 

 

 

THE AUNTY JACK SHOW (Classic Aussie Television)

“The Aunty Jack Show” was one of Australia’s earliest and best loved TV Logie Award winning comedy series. Starring a motor-cycling tranvestite boxer, it ran from 1972 to 1973 on Australia’s national broadcaster ABC-TV and attained an instant cult status that persists to this present day.

The main character “Aunty Jack” was a unique comic creation, an obese, moustachioed, gravel-voiced transvestite, part trucker and part pantomime dame who habitually solved any problem by knocking people unconscious or threatening to ‘rip their bloody arms off’.

Visually, she was unmistakable, dressed in a huge, tent-like blue velvet dress, football socks, workboots, and a golden boxing glove on her right hand. She rode everywhere on a Harley Davidson Motorcycle and referred to everyone as “Me Little Lovelies”.

Under threat of having their “bloody arms ripped off” if they didn’t, Australians of the early seventies had little option but to tune in each week to their favorite Aunt.

“The Aunty Jack Show” starred Grahame Bond as Aunty Jack, (partly inspired by his overbearing Uncle Jack, whom he disliked as a child) Rory O’Donoghue as Thin Arthur, John Derum as Narrator Neville, Garry McDonald as Kid Eager and Sandy Macgregor as Flange Desire.

Although frequently compared to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the Aunty Jack character in fact made her appearance well before Python was screened in Australia, although the two teams evidently shared the same love of surreal humour.

Aunty Jack was created for a proposed ABC Radio children’s radio series, “The Aunty Jack Show”. It was intended to replace the long-running children’s radio series “The Argonauts Club”, which was about to be cancelled. The new series never went to air because ABC executives felt that the Aunty Jack character and some of Grahame’s songs were “inappropriate” for young listeners.

The Aunty Jack character made her TV debut in “Aunty Jack’s Travelling Show”, an episode of ABC-TV’s “The Comedy Game”, broadcast in late 1971. “Aunty Jack’s Travelling Show” convinced the ABC to commission a short series, to be screened weekly.

“The Aunty Jack Show” premiered on 16 November 1972 and became an immediate cult hit with younger audiences, although it was poorly received by critics. Some viewers found it too confronting, and according to Murphy, the ABC received hundreds of calls after the first episode, complaining about the “violence”, the “bad language” and especially about the drag aspect of the Aunty Jack character.

The adverse reaction was reportedly strong enough for the ABC to seriously consider taking the series off the air, but it is generally reported that impassioned pleas from the children of certain ABC executives saved the show from being cancelled.

This would not be the team’s last such run-in with management, however, the tensions between the creative and bureaucratic elements in the ABC eventually came to a head with the infamous “The Off Show” in 1977.

Two series of “The Aunty Jack Show” were made in 1972 and 1973 respectively. The first series comprised seven episodes, the second six episodes. There were also two specials, one aired 8 June 1973 before the second series began in the Spring, and a second aired in 1975. Each episode was built around a central theme.

Bond killed off the show at the end of the second season by having Aunty Jack die of a heart attack, Nevertheless, the cast returned for a special two years later to mark the inauguration of colour television in Australia on 1 March 1975. The special beat ABC’s commercial rivals by beginning 3 minutes early, at 11:57 pm 28 March 1975 in black and white and then wiping to colour at midnight.

The album “Aunty Jack Sings Wollongong” was released in 1974. The single and theme song from the series “Farewell Aunty Jack” reached Number 1 and stayed in the Australian music charts for 22 weeks. The popularity of the series led to a one-off TV special, “Aunty Jack Rox On”, a concert tour. It was the first single to debut in Australia at Number 1, the first Australian single to debut at Number 1 and also the first Australian single in picture-disc form, reputedly being the first disc of its kind in the world.

Although fans long hoped that the show might be released on home video, it was more than thirty years after the show’s first screening until this took place. Although there have been a number of reasons suggested, it is generally accepted that the major stumbling block was a long-running disagreement between Bond and the ABC, stemming from Bond and O’Donoghue’s resentment over the presumed loss of several “Aunty Jack” episodes and the “Off Show” incident. Since Bond and O’Donoghue controlled the rights for all the original music featured in the series, their refusal to release them effectively kept the series off home video until 2005.

Although (according to Bond) the original master tapes for three episodes were erased, all the original film footage shot for the missing episodes had survived and with the assistance of the National Archives of Australia the footage was located and restored, enabling the missing episodes to be reconstructed. The long awaited release of the complete Series 1 on DVD took place in December 2005, and the complete Series 2 followed in April 2006.

“Aunty Jack” returned in early 2006 in a live stage show titled “The Aunty Jack Show and Tell”, starring Grahame Bond and Rory O’Donoghue. As well as Aunty Jack and Thin Arthur, the show featured the singing tramps Neil and Errol, Country and Eastern music exponents the Farrelly Brothers, the Ri Fol Tit Men and bodgie butcher and meat artist Kev Kavanagh.

Aunty Jack and her cast of characters, Thin Arthur, Narrator Neville and Flange Desire brought a newsense of humour to our screens – irreverent, bizarre, full of original music (a rarity for a comedy series) and uniquely Australian.

Listen To Older Voices – The Life & Times of Normie Rowe: Part 4

 Welcome to Listen To Older Voices, a program 
produced by Rob Greaves for Uniting Melba and podcast through 
the Toorak Times and Tagg.

Listen To Older Voices presents the stories, views and opinions of our older citizens. It is predominantly in a life & times format, with interviewees reflecting upon their lives from earliest memories. An underlying principal of the program is to promote the concept of positive ageing, reinforcing the principle that older people have & continue to make a valuable contribution to both their local & wider community.

This is a special Baby Boomer Generation Program.

This is the final part of the story of Australian music legend, Normie Rowe. Over the previous three programs we have learned much about this Melbourne born boy who came from an unassuming working-class background to carve out an extraordinary career in the music business.

This final part of his story finds Normie continuing to share his very strong feelings about the Vietnam Vets as his conscription had a profound affect upon him.

Norman [Normie] Rowe
 
But we also learn his music career is anything but over and with a grandchild in his life he is now able to see the world from a different point of view. He continues to share his observations on a range of topics close to his heart and while it would be foolish to say that in four programs we know all about him, we can say we have some insight into not just an amazing entertainer, but an amazing man.
 


Click to hear Normie Rowe – Part 4



Previous LTOV Programs can be accessed clicking on this icon – 

 

[Listen To Older Voices receives funding from the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Home Support Program Program]

ROLLING BOTH WAYS

The United States Roller Derby came to town in the sixties. It was something like a wrestling match on wheels. The spectacle was stage-managed for television. It was mayhem, with manufactured enmities to amuse the crowd. However, it takes a top class skater to choreograph a fight while hurtling at speed around a banked track on one leg – the other one being waved in the breeze or whatever – and come out with an intact set of bones, ready for a repeat performance the following week.

Although the States also had a home league, which skated by the rules, and from which the theatrical troupe were picked, the dramatized version was the only one filmed on television in Australia, leaving a distorted view of the game.           

Some bright spark decided that we should start our own league. Manresa Hall in Hawthorn was available. A team was formed, with both male and female divisions. My brother Bob and I joined in, along with a lost musician, Graham, who was squatting at our place at the time. Initially we practiced on the flat surface of the dusty hall, until we eventually built a somewhat shaky banked track.

As many of our skaters came from the St. Kilda area, we called ourselves the Southern Flyers and designed a red, black and white uniform. The emblem on the front was a black roller wheel with red wings. As the name suggests, we relied on our speed and skill, rather than trying to emulate the mocked up thuggery of the professionals.

Other teams were also developed and the Victorian League was formed. We hit the big-time, as a curtain raiser on the track at Festival Hall, just before the international stars performed. Unlike the Americans, we had to skate strictly to the rules. Any fights, mock or otherwise, had dire results, such as time out on the penalty bench. We used our own names, rather than wildly descriptive ones such as Dorothy Daisy Cutter or Annie Arm Crusher. Nevertheless, it was speed skating with extras and accidents did occur. Being slammed into the wall at speed resulted in the odd broken finger and if you didn’t have bruises at the end of the game, you hadn’t played. Bob Locke, a tough Liverpudlian with a distinguished history of speed skating, was our coach. I was the original captain of the women’s team.

Despite being relative beginners, we were elated to be breathing the same air as the professionals. The roar of the wheels, accompanied by the ear splitting cheers of the audience as we exploded onto the track from the change rooms below, is indelibly printed on my mind. The adrenaline flows just thinking about it. Interestingly, by the time we had skated half way around the track, a strange thing happened. The sound faded completely away as we focused on the job in hand. Eventually we topped the Victorian League.         

Fund–raising for the Good Friday Appeal in 1966, the Southern Flyers skated from St. Kilda to the Children’s’ Hospital, collecting on the way. There was an unauthorised stopover at Young and Jackson Hotel, opposite the Flinders Street Station. At this stage, women were excluded from public bars. We rattled our tins at the door and the men invited us in. Someone promised money if a girl skated the bar. How could I resist? It’s much harder than dancing on one, but yes, I clambered up and rolled shakily along without tipping over anyone’s beer. The tins were soon filled.

We were filmed progressing down St. Kilda Road. Television was relatively new at this stage, and my small daughter was reportedly upset at seeing a shrunken mum inside the set, wondering how she would get out of it and return to the right size.

Ronny was one of the best skaters in our team. A country boy, he was living with his fiancée’s family in the western suburbs. Then he came out as gay. He needed alternative accommodation in a hurry. It was logical for him to crash on my couch for a while. He was amongst friends. Half the team members were either in my house or living in the surrounding streets.      

Ronny was also an extremely good dancer. We would occasionally go out together, generally down Fitzroy Street. The George Hotel and Les Girls at the Ritz were favourite haunts. Not only was I getting to see some areas in St. Kilda that I may not have had entrée to otherwise, but I also had a competent partner. In between working, skating and dancing, Ronnie painted our lounge red and designed dresses for my girls’ dolls. They had the best dressed Barbies in town.

One day, we ended up in the Australia Hotel in the city. Ronny showed me a new part of it – well new to me. It was the downstairs lounge, which was famous as a homosexual hang out. It was a warm Melbourne day and we chatted away, solving the world’s problems as usual. A large gentleman came up and introduced himself.

“I’m from Queensland. Can I buy you a drink and join in? It’s great to see a normal couple. This place is full of poofs. I love talking, but hell, you wouldn’t want to chat to that lot.”

 “Sure. Pull up a seat.”

He returned with a jug of beer. Ronny and I looked at each other, smothering our smirks. We talked about Melbourne weather, skating and footy. A considerable time later, having drunk more than we had planned, we took our leave. He thanked us for our company and on being such a nice normal couple. We burst out laughing.       

“Not quite.”

There’s a memorable line in a Kris Kristofferson song, ‘To Beat the Devil,’ which he sang at the St Kilda Palais on his Australian tour. It succinctly described the interchange:  “I aint saying I beat the devil, but I drank his beer for nothing”

Brenda Richards  

2017

Original Captain of Southern Flyers girls team

Listen To Older Voices : Normie Rowe – Part 3

 Welcome to Listen To Older Voices, a  
program produced by Rob Greaves for Wesley Uniting and podcast through 
the Toorak Times and Tagg.

Listen To Older Voices presents the stories, views and opinions of our older citizens. It is predominantly in a life & times format, with interviewees reflecting upon their lives from earliest memories. An underlying principal of the program is to promote the concept of positive ageing, reinforcing the principle that older people have & continue to make a valuable contribution to both their local & wider community.

This is a special Baby Boomer Generation Program.

Welcome to the 3rd and penultimate program in the story of Normie Rowe. Normie was a music phenomenon during the 1960’s and how on the back of his success in Australia he went to the UK where he underwent an amazing growth in his music presentation. Yet, all was not well!

In the late 1960’s through into the 1970’s his career shut down. This was largely due to being called up to serve in the Vietnam War, a call-up that itself was somewhat accurately described as a set-up, when it turned out he was the only young Australian with his birth date to be conscripted.

Picture of Normie preparing to leave for Vietnam - 1969
Normie prepares to leave for Vietnam – 1969
Yet while Normie was able to make a few appearances when on leave, really, his pop career was over. During the program Normie candidly talks about this period and the changes he underwent both personally and career wise.

 

Click  to hear Normie Rowe – Part 3


Previous LTOV Programs can be accessed clicking on this icon – 

 

[Listen To Older Voices receives funding from the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Home Support Program Program]

KC & The Sunshine Band

From the mid- to late ’70s, the multi-member and racially integrated group led by bandleaders Harry Wayne “KC” Casey and Richard Finch racked up some of the era’s biggest and instantly recognizable dance hits.

Founded in 1973 in Miami Florida, their style has covered many genres, including funk, R&B and disco. Taking their name from lead vocalist Harry Wayne Casey’s last name ‘KC’ and the “Sunshine Band” came from KC’s home state of Florida, ‘The Sunshine State’.

The band was put together by KC, whilst working two jobs, the first as a record store employee and the other part-time anything man at TK Records. He initially called the band KC and the Sunshine Junkanoo Band, as when it came to recording material, he used studio musicians from TK and a local Junkanoo band called the Miami Junkanoo Band.

One day whilst at TK he met and built up a great relationship with Richard Finch, who was doing engineering work on records for TK. This was the start of a musical collaboration between the two. At first it was just the two, but they later added Jerome Smith (guitar) and Robert Johnson (drums) who were also working at TK.

They first hit the charts with ‘Blow Your Whistle’ in 1973. This followed with ‘Sound Your Funky Horn’ in 1974. Both songs charting quite well on the Billboard R & B Chart. On the back of this success, they released their debut album ‘Do It Good’.

It wasn’t until they released ‘Get Down Tonight’ that they would get their first #1 single. Before they could release their second single ‘That’s the Way I Like It’ which also went straight to #1 position, their second ‘self titled’ album had gone triple platinum.

Their third album released in 1976 titled ‘Part Three’ yielded two #1 singles with ‘I’m Your Boogie Man’ and ‘Shake, Shake, Shake Your Booty’. A third single ‘Keep It Coming Love’ just missed out on giving them a third #1, peaking at #2.

The bands success story lasted until their fifth album release, ‘Who Do Ya (Love) in 1978, featuring their last #1 hit ‘Please Don’t Go’ and giving them their first hit of the 80’s.

With the eruption of new wave of music and declining popularity of disco, the band tried to re-invent themselves exploring other styles and changing record labels. They were in fact forced to change labels, joining Epic Records after TK Records went bust.

In 1981, the partnership between Casey and Finch was all but over. Two years later, the band released two new pop albums, which generated little if any interest.

An ever growing internal conflict between Casey and Epic about their musical direction, resulted in Casey pulling from the record company, and starting his own record label called Meca Records. With Meca, he had total control over the release of his material. But KC & The Sunshine Bands days were numbered. Failing to chart with any further albums, the band took a hiatus in 1985, to coincide with Casey’s retirement.

Casey would come out of retirement in 1991, with a revival of interest in disco music. Forming the group again, with a completely new line-up, they began touring playing all their former hits. The new band released quite a few compilation albums, through Rhino Records, as well as some new material.

After a decade of silence, KC and The Sunshine Band released ‘Oh Yeah’ in 1993.

In 2000 Smith (guitar) accidentally died whilst working as a bulldozer operator. The band again after an 8 year hiatus, returned to the music scene releasing two more albums, ‘I’ll Be There For You” and “Yummy’. Even though critics were praising the bands efforts, the pubic weren’t buying it and it made little impact in sales and on the charts.

 

 

Listen To Older Voices : Normie Rowe – Part 2

Welcome to Listen To Older Voices, a program produced by Rob Greaves for Wesley Connect and podcast through the Toorak Times and Tagg.

Listen To Older Voices presents the stories, views and opinions of our older citizens. It is predominantly in a life & times format, with interviewees reflecting upon their lives from earliest memories. An underlying principal of the program is to promote the concept of positive ageing, reinforcing the principle that older people have & continue to make a valuable contribution to both their local & wider community.

This is a special Baby Boomers Generation Edition

In this second part of the Life & Times of seventy year old Baby Boomer Normie Rowe we recall that between April 1965 and June of 1967 Normie had an amazing 15 top 4o hits including four #1’s. His popularity was unparalleled at this time and his fame grew along with the Australian music scene.

Click image for larger version.  Name: Normie & The Playboys_60's.jpg  Views: 1  Size: 49.1 KB  ID: 35053
Normie at the hight of his popularity in the 1960’s


However in this part of his story we also get to learn about Normie the person, yet, constantly winding its way through his story and his life is – music!

 

Click to hear Normie Rowe – Part 2


Previous LTOV Programs can be accessed clicking on this icon – 

 

[Listen To Older Voices receives funding from the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Home Support Program Program]