David Cassidy was huge back in the 70s. You would have been hard-pressed to find a teenage girl back then that didn’t have a poster of the teen heartthrob hanging on their bedroom walls. He was the breakout star of The Partridge Family and even after the series wrapped up, his fame still continued to grow exponentially.
Despite living a life of luxury and glamour, when the cameras were rolling, behind the scenes Cassidy was actually deeply troubled. Life in the limelight proved to be detrimental to his soul and spirit. While on the surface, it looked as if he had it all – money, prestige, and women – deep inside of his heart, David felt empty. And eventually, his bank account would start to look a lot like his barren heart.
Today we’re going to take a closer look at David’s life behind the camera and the legacy that he has left behind after his passing. Cassidy died in 2017, but following his death, some truly shocking revelations were made regarding his turbulent final years.
Cassidy Lied About Having Dementia To Hide His Alcoholism
In 2018, less than a year after Cassidy’s passing, a never before heard recording of the late Partridge Family star revealed that he had repeatedly lied about having dementia to cover up the fact that he was still severely dependent on alcohol. The recording was made just two months before Cassidy died from organ failure at the age of 67.
It’s no secret that the last few years of Cassidy’s life were pretty rocky, although the rest of his life admittedly was equally filled with troubles and struggles. In the last five years of his life, the former teen heartthrob was arrested three times and charged with DUI.
In 2014, he checked himself into a rehabilitation facility and told his friends, family, and fans that he had finally quit drinking, but according to that damning audio recording, that was all one big elaborate lie.
Cassidy was taking part in the production of a documentary entitled David Cassidy: The Last Session when the recording was made. He had called up the producers after being rushed to a hospital with some kind of acute illness.
He explained to A&E producer Saralena Weinfield that he had a liver disease and that there were no signs that he was suffering from dementia at that stage in his life. His faltering physical health condition and his memory problems were both connected to his alcoholism.
In that recorded phone call Cassidy admitted to lying about his drinking in an attempt to cover up the sadness and emptiness that he was experiencing.
Before his passing, Cassidy had even appeared on Dr. Phil’s talk show to talk about his experience with dementia and to alleviate some of his fans’ worries.
Producers of the documentary were genuinely surprised to hear Cassidy’s confession. Most people in his life truly believed that he was sober, but in truth, he drank heavily up until the last few months of his life.
Former Partridge Family co-star, Danny Bonaduce, who has also had his own personal struggles with addiction over the years said that he wasn’t at all surprised to hear about Cassidy’s dishonesty.
“Part of alcoholism is lying”, Bonaduce explained.
“When you’re an addict, you know you can’t be honest with people. You say what you want them to hear”.
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And stay tuned, because we’re about to take you through the highs and lows of Cassidy’s career. Sadly, there were probably more lows than highs, but that’s what fame and fortune sometimes brings people – especially when they never got a chance to have a normal childhood.
Cassidy’s Parents Were Also Entertainers
It’s honestly not very surprising that Cassidy ended up being one of the biggest stars of the 70s. Both of his parents were also successful entertainers. His father, Jack Cassidy, was a singer and his mother, Evelyn Ward, was an actress.
His parents split when he was just a boy and his dad ended up marrying actress Shirley Jones. David Cassidy would rise to fame alongside Shirley Jones. In fact, they were the only two members of their fictional musical group that actually performed, recorded, and toured.
The Partridge Family Mirrored Real Life
When Jones and Cassidy were cast in The Partridge Family along with Danny Bonaduce and Susan Dey, it was first unclear if David could actually sing. Producers really didn’t care at the time. They cast him because of his androgynous looks hoping he would become some kind of instant icon. But when given the opportunity to take the mic and show them what he was working with, the producers were pleasantly surprised to discover that he had a great singing voice. That was the moment that he became the band’s lead singer
Cassidy Launched A Successful Solo Career
While the TV show was rising in popularity and The Partridge Family recorded hits like “I Think I Love You”, David quickly became a full-blown teen superstar. It wasn’t long before he started focusing on his own solo musical career. He released his first single ‘Cherish’, a cover of a song by The Association, in 1972. The track blew up reaching #15 on the US charts and #2 in the UK.
He was an overnight success and embarked on international tours singing a mixture of Partridge Family songs and his own solo material. During The Partridge Family Years, Cassidy recorded 10 albums with his co-stars and five of his own solo work. Massive hits like 1973s Daydreamer helped his musical career overshadow his on-screen fame.
Selling Out Madison Square Garden
Cassidy resented the fact that he was labeled as some kind of teen idol. He desperately wanted to be taken seriously as the musician that he was. It didn’t help that the press had come up with the term Cassidy-mania to describe the frenzy that followed him whenever he was in public. By 1972, he was routinely selling out stadiums of over 50,000 people.
In fact, Cassidy once sold out Madison Square Garden in New York in just one day. His fans were so hysterical that they actually caused a riot during that show, and when the same story unfolded in Australia at Melbourne’s Cricket Ground in 1974, people even tried to have him deported.
Cassidy-Mania Takes Its First Life
Cassidy’s fans didn’t adore him like any other celebrity. Their obsession with him was borderline psychotic. His fan base’s passion for him was so intense that it often became dangerous. In 1974, at a show at White City Stadium in London, over 800 people were injured when a crowd rushed the stage. A fourteen-year-old girl named Bernadette Whelan died four years later as a result of injuries she sustained at that show.
That was the beginning of David’s downfall. He recalled that that was the moment that he decided to quit touring and acting on The Partridge Family. Fame had gotten to be too much for him. It wasn’t what he had signed up for although it wouldn’t be long for the allure of spotlight to draw him back in.
The Partridge Family wrapped up in 1974 and Cassidy transitioned over to focusing on his music. From 1975 to 1976, he released three hit-packed solo albums to critical acclaim.
He didn’t entirely give up acting, however. In 1978, he guest-starred in an episode of Police Story. He even earned an Emmy for that performance. It was such a successful episode, that the network gave Cassidy his own show, Man Undercover, which premiered just a few months later.
Unfortunately, the series lasted only one season. Viewers weren’t really into Cassidy being in a drama.
Cassidy’s First Wife
David married Kay Lenz in 1977. Lenz was an actress who appeared on a number of hit shows throughout the 60s and 70s including The Andy Griffith Show and Ironside. Although their union first seemed like some kind of a match made in heaven, rumors about Cassidy’s drug abuse issues soon started to surface. In 1981, the couple filed for divorce.
Lenz told People that she wasn’t used to the type of fame that followed Cassidy. She missed having privacy. Although she couldn’t put her finger on why she was so unhappy, she just couldn’t keep on going within the confines of that marriage.
By The 1980s Cassidy Was Dirt Broke
Even though he had numerous hit albums under his belt and was one of the biggest stars of the 70s, by the 1980s, Cassidy could barely make ends meet. Maybe it was because of that fact that he couldn’t find any decent acting roles anymore or perhaps it had something to do with how his last several albums failed to chart in the US, but either way, it’s clear that he didn’t save much cash from his Partridge Family days.
To pay the bills, Cassidy got involved in musical career. He toured with the cast of Little Johnny Jones, but when it came time for the show to hit Broadway, he was swapped out with Donny Osmond following numerous negative reviews of his lackluster performance.
Two More Failed Marriages Amidst Financial Woes
Cassidy married his second wife, Meryl Tanz, in 1984. Their relationship was actually the inspiration for his album Romance. After getting married, Cassidy and Tanz became partners rearing horses and operating a horse racing business for a couple of years. But by 1986, their marriage had already fallen apart and they filed for divorce.
That same year, Cassidy fathered a child with model Sherry Williams. David was never really there for his daughter, Katie Williams. In fact, she was fully raised by Williams and her step-father Richard Benedon. Being absent from his daughter’s life would haunt him for the rest of his life. Her relationship with David remained distant and complicated up until his death.
In 1991, Cassidy married his third wife Sue Shifrin-Cassidy. They had one child together, Beau, who went on to follow in his father’s footsteps by becoming a singer-songwriter.
In an attempt to revive his career, Cassidy moved his family to Las Vegas where he worked as a co-writer and producer of a stage production called The Rat Pack Is Back. In 2000, he and his wife created their own Vegas show, At The Copa.
Broke, Divorced, And Drinking Himself To Death
David and Sue might have seemed like soulmates, but in 2014 they filed for divorce after 24 years of marriage. Just a year later, Cassidy filed for bankruptcy. The divorce was finalized in 2016.
It was during this turbulent time period that Cassidy’s drinking really started taking its toll on nearly every part of his life. In 2017, Cassidy came out and said that he was battling with dementia – although as we’ve already learned, that was a lie. It was also revealed that he was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and his Partridge Family checks were drying up. In short, it looked as if Cassidy’s life was spiraling out of control – and it was.
To cope with his mounting pain and emptiness, Cassidy leaned harder and harder on the bottle for comfort. As a result of his excessive drinking, he racked up several DUIs and even a hit and run charge. Not only was he broke, but now he also had legal troubles to deal with now.
Cassidy was rushed to the hospital in November 2017. Because of his alcoholism, he desperately needed a liver transplant but his kidneys were also shutting down. Left with no other options, the doctors placed him in a medically induced coma. He passed away several days later while surrounded by his family.
David Cassidy’s story is nothing short of heart-breaking. It seems like he could never find the meaningful existence that he truly wanted. It just goes to show you that all the fame and fortune in the world won’t buy you happiness.
Anyway, We’d love to hear from you! What’s your favorite David Cassidy song, Cherish, I Think I Love You, something else? Let us know in the comments section below.
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