TV Show: Partridge Family

One of the most loved shows on television during the early 1970’s was “The Partridge Family.” Audiences across America were captivated by the singing family for the four seasons it ran, and the show won some prestigious accolades along the way, including a Grammy nomination, five Golden Globe nominations, and some very high ratings.

Are you a fan of The Partridge Family? If so, we’ve compiled a list of some little-known facts and fun trivia about the actors.

Shirley Partridge Or Carol Brady?

Shirley Jones played Shirley Partridge, the mother of the Partridge family.” She also had the opportunity to play another timeless television mother character, as she was previously offered the role of Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch. In the end, as appealing as the offer was, Jones identified more with the character of Shirley Partridge and decided that was the best role for her. Her character was also recognized as one of the first working mothers on television, not a bad title to have.

After Mrs. Partridge

After The Partridge Family, Jones continued her acting and music career. She tried her hand at her own television show titled Shirley, which eventually canceled due to bad ratings. However, she also worked on the dramatic project There Were Times, Dear, where she was nominated for an Emmy. She currently has a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame and has been in numerous plays such as Oklahoma! and even played a role in the soap opera Days of Our Lives. Her last appearance on television was a guest star role in an episode of General Hospital in 2014.

Keith Partridge

David Cassidy, a teen heartthrob of the 1970’s played the character of Keith Partridge in The Partridge Family. He was the son of Shirley Partridge, who was actually David’s stepmother in real life. the Partridge Family helped to push Cassidy into musical stardom, with his solo music career surpassing The Partridge Family’s musical success and went on to have sell-out concerts all over the world. He had become a teen idol, which he resented at the time, as he was striving to become a respected musician rather than a teen star.

Cassidy In Later Life

During and after the filming of The Partridge Family, Cassidy had beyond a successful music career. He became so popular that at one of his shows 800 people were crushed. From there, he continued on with his musical career releasing numerous successful singles and albums.

Tragically, he passed away from liver failure in 2017. Co-star Danny Bonaduce shared this to Twitter: “I have known, loved, and admired David Cassidy for 48 out of my 58 years. He has been as kind to me as any real brother could ever be. We’ve been through a lot together and he was always there for me. This loss is huge. RIP my dear friend.”

There Was A Known Troublemaker On Set

Danny Bonaduce played Danny Partridge, the bass-playing middle son of the show. Although he was described by the rest of the cast as a “very smart” and “extremely talented” boy, he was also prone to some juvenile hijinks and mischief. It was not uncommon for him to stage pillow fights or throw a dish of food across the room. Hard to blame him when he’s just a kid. Many claimed that he was a wild child, and even took up smoking cigarettes at 11 years old! That’s the 70’s for ya!

Bonaduce Today

Both during and after The Partridge Family, Bonaduce was featured in films such as Corvette Summer and the television show CHiPS. He notes that in a 14-year period from 1974 to 1988, he only worked a total of 20 weeks. In 1990’s Bonaduce made many guest star appearances on television shows such as Married…With Children, Monk, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and more. He also spent some time as a radio personality and had a variety of shows over the years. During that time, he also participated, in reality, TV shows. Since then, he has been relatively out of the limelight.

Susan Dey’s Acting Debut

Before her role in the Partridge Family, Dey was a model until she became recognized and got the part of Laurie Partridge in the show. She was 17 years old with no acting experience. On the show, she played one of the siblings who played the piano, Hammond organ, percussion, as well as singing. However, it is noted by Shirley Jones that after The Partridge Family, she was the only cast member that consistently refused to take part in any of the shows reunions. However, after the show, she went on the have a very fruitful acting career.

What Happened To Susan Dey?

After her role as Laurie Partridge in The Partridge Family, she went on to enjoy more success on the silver screen. Throughout the course of her career, she was a three-time Emmy Awar nominee, six-time Golden Globe nominee, and won the Golden Globe For Best Actress in 1988. Her first movie role was in the 1972 film Skyjacked, followed by Mary Jane Hopper Cried last Night. She then went on to act in a variety of other television shows and films until she landed her most well-known role in the show L.A. Law in which she won her Golden Globe. Since 2004, she has mostly been under the radar.

The Partridge Family Featured Some Unbelievable Guest Stars

As is often the case on television shows, some current big-time celebrities found their first flash of fame on “The Partridge Family.” The show featured celebrities like Farrah Fawcett, Rob Reiner, Dick Clark, Richard Pryor, and eleven-year-old Jodie Foster. Some guest stars were more popular with the cast than others, as Shirley Jones confessed in her biography that she really didn’t like Dick Clark or Richard Pryor. The show was a perfect way for young and upcoming stars to receive some attention from their public and get their name out there.

Susan Dey Had A Crush On David Cassidy

It was well known by the cast that Susan Dey, who played Laurie Partridge on the show had a huge crush on David Cassidy. The feelings were apparently not reciprocated as Cassidy viewed Dey as more of a “sister” to him. Also, surely it was hard for Cassidy to want any form of relationship due to his status as a teen idol at the time. Cassidy didn’t apparently handle Dey’s feelings very well, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons Dey has consistently refused to return for any TV reunions of “The Partridge Family.”

David Cassidy Made $600 A Week While Sony Made Millions

Many of Cassidy’s fans were completely unaware that all of the sold-out shows, fan club memberships, and merchandise did little to line Cassidy’s pockets. Instead, they went directly to Screen Gems (Sony) and made them millions. His contract didn’t require the company to pay him any royalties or even request his permission to use his image. Cassidy’s salary was a flat $600 every week. This would not be the first or last time that a television industry has taken advantage of their talent, while they sit back and collect the money.

The Partridge Family Featured Two Chris Partridges

It’s not uncommon for TV shows to replace one actor with another while still playing the same character. This is also frequent among children that don’t have star roles because the audience doesn’t tend to either notice or care too much. That’s exactly what happened on “The Partridge Family” with the character of Christ Partridge. While Chris Partridge was originally played by Jeremy Gelbwaks, he was replaced by Brian Forster in the second season because everyone on set agreed that Gelbwaks simply wasn’t quite ready for showbiz.

The Reason The Partridge Family’s House Looks So Familiar

If you’ve ever seen the Partridge family home and thought you had seen it somewhere before, you’re correct! The house was used for other popular television shows filmed in the same era. Not only was it used as the nosey neighbors’ house in Bewitched, it was also featured in Dennis the Menace and I Dream of Jeannie. Also, the house is right down the street from the original home of The Munsters! Who knew the house was so famous on its own!

There Was An Animated Version Of The Partridge Family

Similar to other shows during that time, the original show had an animated spin-off titled Partridge Family, 2200 A.D. The show was essentially the exact same concept, except it took place in the future and looked like something out of The Jetsons. The original cast wisely decided to give the animated show a wide berth, with Shirley Jones and David Cassidy completely avoiding it. However, Dave Madden and Susan Dey participated in very limited roles. This was smart considering that most spin-offs taint the reputation of a great show, especially if they’re animated!

Only Shirley Jones Was Meant To Actually Sing

Originally, the studio intended only for Shirley Jones aka Shirley Partridge to sing on the show. However, after the producers heard David Cassidy’s demos of some of the songs, they made the executive decision to let him sing as well. Lucky for David Cassidy considering that his role as Keith Partridge rocketed his musical career and made him the music icon that he is today. Imagine the world of music where David Cassidy didn’t get his start on “The Partridge Family!”

Rick Springfield As Keith Partridge?

Most fans of The Partridge Family are aware that the show only enjoyed a limited run of four seasons. While the show’s producers wanted to keep it going longer, David Cassidy had no interest in continuing in his role, since his music career was far more promising than the continuation of the show. Apparently, if the show had continued past four seasons, then it would’ve been the familiar face of Rick Springfield playing Keith Partridge.It was probably a good call to end the show when it did since switching out a star can prove to be difficult for the audience to adjust.

The Cowsill Family

Originally, The Partridge Family was meant to feature the real-life family the Cowsills. It was close to becoming a reality until the producers decided they wanted Shirley Jones to play the family’s mother instead of the group’s actual patriarch Barbara Cowsill. Obviously, the Cowsill family took issue with that and refused the part. Although we are all happy with the way The Partridge Family ultimately turned out, it would have been interesting to see an actual family acting together as a different family on a television show.

The Partridge Family Songs Actually Charted

Some of the songs that were credited to The Partridge Family show actually performed quite well on the charts. “I Think I Love You” was the group’s first single, and it sold over 4 million copies while going to number-one on the charts. David Cassidy has even been known to perform that song today. Some of the group’s other hits included “Doesn’t Someone Want To Be Wanted,” “I Woke Up In Love This Morning,” and “I’ll Meet You Halfway,” showing that this show was revolutionary in how it covered multiple bases in the pop culture world.

Danny Bonaduce Had Serious Trouble With His Lines

When filming The Partridge Family, Danny Bonaduce struggled with dyslexia while at the same time having a photographic memory. While he could easily remember his lines as well as his castmates, his dyslexia made it difficult for him to always get the lines right. Fellow cast members apparently got annoyed with Bonaduce when he would correct them on their own lines. With Bonaduce already having a lot of energy and being a bit on the mischevious side, I’m sure his disorder made him quite the handful on set at times.

David Cassidy’s Voice Didn’t Actually Sound Like That

Turns out that David Cassidy’s voice sounded different than how it appeared to sound on the show. Cassidy claims that while recording his voice, the sound engineers would record it a quarter tone lower and then play it back while raising it a quarter tone. This caused his voice to sound slightly higher than it actually was. Although they were tinkering with his voice, it didn’t have much effect, because they weren’t trying to cover anything as if he couldn’t sing. Cassidy had a great voice, they just barely tweaked it for the sake of the show.

Shirley Jones Had A Hard Time With Her Partridge Family Fame

In her memoir, Jones commented that she attributed her divorce of Jack Cassidy to the fame that came with her acting career. She also said the life of a celebrity was very confusing for her son, Ryan, who at one point unknowingly invited a group of tourists into their home. In an interview, she notes that her agents didn’t warn her that she would become Shirley Partridge for the rest of her life, and her movie career would suffer. However, she also explains that she has no regrets.

David Cassidy Had Some Real Life Issues

Celebrities are just like real people, and like real people, Cassidy had some very real issues. He has had three divorces throughout his life, filed for bankruptcy and apparently owes over $400,000 to creditors. Also, after his third DUI arrest, he admitted that he had been battling alcoholism for years and has been in rehab three times. During his bout with alcoholism, he lost a good number of fans for his recurring meltdowns on stage and sloppy performances. Cassidy went to rehab again in 2014 and claimed to be sober afterward. Sadly, he died in 2017.

Many Of The Cast Members Weren’t Good Enough For The Studio

Shirley Jones claims that “Laurie, Tracy, Danny, and both Chris’” weren’t good enough to cut it in the recording studio when they were given a chance to sing and play for themselves. Although a bit harsh, she was, of course, referring to the real life actors Susan Dey, Suzanne Crough, Danny Bonaduce, Jeremy Gelbwaks, and Brian Forster. Good news for those actors, however, since the majority of the audience saw them as both actors and talented musicians, when in reality, they were just actors.

Fans Of The Show Thought The Kids Played Their Own Instruments

Apparently, it was a common misconception that the kids on the show actually played their own instruments. Danny Bonaduce claimed that many fans of the show thought the group should go on tour and play live. However, the only cast member to actually do so was David Cassidy, who had a very successful singing career. Yet, this misunderstanding can be understood since although some of the cast was actually singing and the others weren’t, it would be hard to differentiate between the two. Also, surely the younger viewers wanted to believe that the kids were actually playing instruments.

Ricky Was Added To The Show To Boost Ratings

With the show not receiving as much attention as it once had, the producers felt that the show would benefit from a younger child on the cast, hoping that it would boost the ratings as well as attract a larger audience. So, in came the character, Ricky, at the young age of four years old. In addition to Ricky, the show’s producers also considered using an African-American actor to emulate some of the popularity that the Jackson Five were enjoying at the time. The addition of the character was not as effective as the producers hoped, and showed that they were getting desperate.

David Cassidy’s Death

Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns
Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns

At only 67 years old, Partridge Family star David Cassidy died on November 21, 2017. He passed away in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As we’ve seen, the actor and heartthrob had battled multiple problems with substance abuse throughout his career.

In a statement, Cassidy’s loving family issued these public words: “On behalf of the entire Cassidy family, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, our uncle, and our dear brother, David Cassidy.”