As big as ABC’s The Partridge Family was in the early ’70s, fans of the sitcom may be shocked to find out how little TV star and musician David Cassidy made on the show.
In 1970, The Partridge Family premiered and almost immediately became a hit. During the show’s four-season run, the cast became household names and Cassidy shot to stardom. The actor became a teenage heartthrob as fans tuned in to the popular sitcom and showed up at his sold-out concerts across the country.
The show’s television ratings skyrocketed, in large part due to the musical element of the show. The TV family is based on The Cowsills, an actual singing family that consisted of six siblings and their mother. The Cowsills were a wholesome singing group that was known for their harmonies in the mid to late 1960s. Inspired by the group, The Partridge Family went on to have great success on-air. In addition, they recorded multiple albums and even had a single climb to No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
“I Think I Love You” reached the top of the charts in 1970, and it even outsold The Beatles’ “Let It Be.” In 1971, the family group was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards. Furthermore, The Partridge Family show earned nominations two years in a row for Best TV Show at the Golden Globes. However, as successful as the show and their accompanying albums were, Cassidy made far less than you may expect.
David Cassidy Made Only $600 a Week Before Renegotiating Contract
Even though TV ratings were high and album sales were through the roof, The Partridge Family cast didn’t reap the benefits. Although none of the cast members were truly able to cash in on the show’s popularity early on, David Cassidy was exploited more than anyone else.
The teen idol played to sold-out stadiums, had countless products that featured his likeness, and got mobbed by fans everywhere he went. Cassidy often came home to naked women in his house or hiding away in his car. To say fans went crazy over Cassidy in the ’70s is an understatement.
Yet while companies made millions off of Cassidy’s image, many didn’t have to pay him a dime. His contract with the TV show didn’t require companies to ask permission to use his likeness. Nor did they have to pay him royalties. Tons of products had Cassidy’s face on them, including t-shirts, lunch boxes, posters, board games, and more. But he didn’t benefit financially from them at all. In fact, the superstar that was David Cassidy only earned a flat rate salary of $600 per week.
Thankfully, his manager realized that Cassidy was under 18 years old when he originally signed his contract. Therefore, she renegotiated his weekly salary to mirror his star status. She also made sure to get her client royalties for his image use. After being exploited during the early days of his stardom, Cassidy’s wages finally equaled his success.