‘The Partridge Family’: David Cassidy Explained Keith Partridge, Reinventing Himself as Actor

by Joe Rutland
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David Cassidy knew that being Keith Partridge on “The Partridge Family” brought him fame. It took a lot out of him personally.

In order to move ahead as an actor, though, Cassidy needed to make a decision. Does he go ahead and continue playing the rock-and-roll musician role or consider a new acting path? He made the decision to move in a different way, even willing to learn new things about being an actor.

It takes a lot of guts to leave what brought so much to Cassidy, son of actor Jack Cassidy and stepson to Shirley Jones, and change course. But he actually found himself at the proverbial fork in the road.

When asked in an interview with Yahoo! about what happened, Cassidy, who died in 2017, simply said he left. “I retired from playing stadiums and closed the cover on that part of my career,” he said. “I retired for three and a half years, and I came back as an actor.”

David Cassidy Was Dealing With Father’s Death

David Cassidy, though, was trying to put his personal life back together as well. In 1976, his father Jack died after he’d passed out after drinking too much and his lit cigarette caught the sofa he was sleeping caught on fire.

He also lost his manager in the same year. Cassidy simply said about that time, “I was going through so much personally. I was really in bad shape.”

Cassidy continued to hone his acting skills and it paid off to a degree. He was nominated for an Emmy after doing a two-hour movie for NBC’s “Police Story” called “A Chance to Live” in 1978. It was a dramatic role, quite a departure from the comedic, smart-talking Keith Partridge character.

That led to a series called “David Cassidy: Man Undercover.” “They used the movie as a spinoff for that series, which it wasn’t intended to be, and the series was pretty disastrous,” he said. “It was night shooting, most of it, in downtown L.A. in the wintertime. It was just so unpleasant.”

Well, the show bombed and was canceled after one season. Cassidy said he got “wooed” into doing it.

“I just knew then that I needed to do something else, and try not to capitalize or rely upon or compete with my fame and my career that I kept on the shelf,” he said.

Cassidy Makes Total Break From Musical Career

So, David Cassidy took that rock-and-roll part of his life and put it somewhere else.

“‘There it is five years of your life, let’s encapsulate it,'” he said. “‘There are all your records, there’s all your merchandising, and now it’s over.’ So I began to go back to acting class and work with other actors.”

How popular was David Cassidy the musician? In 1972, he performed back-to-back sold-out shows at The Astrodome in Houston, Texas. That’s 56,000 fans packing “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” as the place was called, in one weekend.

Still, all that just wore down on Cassidy. In the 1980s, he acted in theater roles for plays like “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Time.”

Cassidy’s decision to move away from music and back to acting helped him at that period in his life. Yet he found himself back in the musical world later in his life. Until he died, David Cassidy managed to find a place in music, something he fought being a part of as “The Partridge Family” star wanted to be more than a teen idol.

Outsider.com