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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…………..
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.