In the 1970s, the musical sitcom The Partridge Family quickly became a hit series. The story was unique, which is why everyone fell in love with the show. Shirley Partridge is a widowed working mother who is left to take care of five children. She decides to form a family band, naturally, and they travel around the country in a groovy school bus.
Maybe you had a David Cassidy poster on your wall, or you were crushing on Susan Dey, but you never missed an episode. While everything seemed perfect on screen as they all sang together, there was a lot more to the dynamics behind the scenes. So, c’mon get happy, and find out everything you need to know about The Partridge Family.
Shirley Jones Could Have Been Carol Brady
Before she took the role of Shirley Partridge, Shirley Jones was offered the role of Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch. She initially thought the idea of playing Carol Brady was appealing; however, she turned it down because she didn’t want to be the stay-at-home mom, not doing anything other than cooking and cleaning for the family.
In the ‘70s, Jones was raising three children with her husband Jack Cassidy, and she was interested in doing a TV series. After turning down The Brady Bunch, she heard about the role of Shirley Partridge, who quits her job as a bank teller to join her kids’ singing group and guide them through life in the spotlight. Jones never doubted playing Shirley Partridge because she was the first working mother on TV, and she loved the script.
Danny Bonaduce Was a Troublemaker on Set
Much like his character in the show, Danny Bonaduce was a wild card who would throw food and start pillow fights. Shirley Jones even said he could be a snotty child at times. It wasn’t a stretch for him to play his character, but he was just a kid after all. On one occasion, Jones ordered Bonaduce to go upstairs to his room even though the set didn’t have an upstairs, and she wasn’t really his mom.
The cast got so fed up with Bonaduce one day that they decided to convince Susan Dey to pour a pitcher of milk on his head to put him in his place. The prank ultimately ended up in an episode, but it happened to Keith instead of Danny. Also, Bonaduce had trouble remembering his lines, and it took him 36 takes to master one relatively uncomplicated scene.
The Show Led to a Divorce
When the show began, Shirley Jones was married to Jack Cassidy, David Cassidy’s real-life dad. Jones said they were far from a happy family, especially when the show got big. The success of the show took a toll on the marriage. Her success drove Jack crazy because he had a sense of inferiority. He started cheating on her more than he already was, and they decided to get a divorce.
Jones ended up marrying another actor, Marty Ingels, two years later. They remained married despite their different personalities and numerous separations until Ingels died in 2015. She filed for a divorce but withdrew it in 2002 because he drove her crazy, but she loved him and misses him now that he is gone.
David Cassidy Only Made $600 per Week
Although everyone talks about how big a success the show was, the cast was not appropriately compensated. Sony decided to keep most of the money despite David Cassidy being a teen idol and superstar. The young actor was getting mobbed by fans and selling out stadiums. Anything with his face on it was selling off the shelves, but he was only making $600 a week.
Everyone was making a fortune off Cassidy besides him, and his contract didn’t require them to pay him royalties or ask his permission. People who joined the David Cassidy fan club had no idea that their money was going into the pockets of people he didn’t know. However, he eventually renegotiated his contract when his manager pointed out that he was underage when he signed.
There Were Two Different Chris Partridges
When the show premiered, Chris Partridge was initially played by Jeremy Gelbwaks. However, the cast and crew always complained about his behavior on set, and he was fired. The studio said that Gelbwaks’s family moved away to cover up that they had problems with the actor. He was too young and not ready for the pressure of the work, so the show decided to replace him with a different actor.
After Gelwaks was fired, Brian Forster played Chris Partridge for the rest of the series, and the studio never received a single letter mentioning the recasting. We guess the audience had no problem because Forster was enjoyable to watch as Chris, and the cast was much happier with his behavior.
The Partridge Family Beat the Beatles
The Partridge Family released many hit records during the peak of their popularity. The group was nominated for a Grammy in 1971, even though Jones and Cassidy were the only ones actually singing. One of their biggest singles was “I Think I Love You,” which hit number one on the Billboard charts.
The song outsold The Beatles’ “Let It Be.” It was incredible for the show and increased their popularity. Every time they had a new song, fans highly anticipated it, and most of their albums were best-sellers. The Beatles must have been keeping an eye out for this fictional musical family.
A Real Family Inspired the Show
The idea behind The Partridge Family was based on a real-life family/band, The Cowsills. The family’s ages ranged between 8 to 19, and the six siblings and their mother had a few modest hits in the late 1960s. The sister of the group joked that she never knew which actress was supposed to be her.
While the show made all the actors household names, it didn’t do anything for The Cowsills. Their popularity remained in the ‘60s while the show was a success in the ‘70s. Interestingly, they didn’t get as much recognition as they should, considering the show was based on their lives.
The Partridge Family House Probably Looks Familiar
Loyal fans and those watching re-runs of The Partridge Family might recognize the house in the show because it was used in many other primetime shows from the same era. The home was used in Bewitched for Samantha and Darrin Stevens’ nosy neighbors. The street was also used for other popular shows and movies.
You might recognize the street because it was featured in Idream of Jeannie, Dennis the Menace, and The Donna Reed Show. There were scenes when the Partridge family drove their bus down the street, and you could see all the famous houses. The home was later seen in Reese Witherspoon’s movie, Pleasantville.
The Guest Star List Was Unbelievable
Because of the show’s popularity, there were many famous guest stars, including people who would become very famous. A pre-Taxi Driver Jodie Foster was the daughter of one of Shirley’s boyfriends, whose crush on Danny led to her punching him in the eye. Farrah Fawcett also made an appearance.
Other notable names included Michael Ontkean, Ray Bolger and Margaret Hamilton, Mark Hamill, Johnny Cash, Dick Clark, and many more. There was a lot of star power on this show, and there was no denying that it was the top show of the ‘70s besides The Brady Bunch.
There Was an Unaired Version of the Pilot
While the aired version of the pilot never discussed Mr. Partridge’s death or even revealed his first name, an unaired version talked about it. In the original version of the pilot, the family lives in Ohio rather than California, and the story of their deceased father is much darker.
In the unaired pilot, the family talks about how Mr. Partridge was a heavy drinker, which would have set a much sadder tone for the show. Therefore, executives decided to cut that and air a different version where there is no mention of their father or what happened to him.
Susan Dey Had a Crush on David Cassidy
Although Susan Dey and David Cassidy played siblings on the show, she had a huge crush on him, but he didn’t return the feelings. He saw her as more of a sister, but that didn’t stop her from having feelings for him.
After the show ended, they dated briefly. Cassidy revealed in his autobiography that they slept together once. Dey wasn’t happy that her former costar shared that private information with the world without her consent, which is one of the many reasons she stopped speaking to him and the rest of the cast.
Susan Dey Struggled With Her Self-Image
Susan Dey gained great fame from her role in The Partridge Family. As Laurie Partridge, people started to recognize her wherever she went. Because of the sudden fame, Dey felt insecure with her physique and started dieting to lose weight quickly. One of her costars said she looked terribly thin, and she realized how bad she got.
It didn’t help that she had a secret crush on David Cassidy, and he only thought of her as a sister. He would tell her stories about his adventures with different girls, but it became too much for Dey. Shirley Jones saw how much she was suffering, so she told Cassidy how Dey felt, so he would stop bragging to her about his escapades.
Danny Bonaduce Had a Dark Secret
While many complained about his antics on set, Bonaduce was dealing with a lot at home. His father was emotionally and physically abusive. His mother couldn’t do anything but watch it happen, so the show was his escape. However, this unfortunate childhood led him down the wrong path as an adult.
Bonaduce struggled with substance abuse and homelessness as he got older, and he was arrested multiple times. He was once caught trying to buy drugs in Florida while he was there to host a D.A.R.E event, an anti-drug campaign for children. He continued to work on television and radio throughout the years.
There Was an Animated Spin-Off
Some might remember the animated spin-off of The Partridge Family titled Partridge Family, 2200 A.D. or The Partridge Family in Outer Space. Unsurprisingly, the show only aired for one season. It was set 225 years in the future like a musical version of The Jetsons.
We guess people were only interested in the real-life version or nothing because this was a major flop. We don’t know what the producers were thinking back then, but we can imagine they thought it would be another way to line their pockets with cash. However, that didn’t work out, and no one had to suffer through a second season.
David Cassidy Wanted to Move on From the Show
Although the show shot him to superstardom, Cassidy was tired of maintaining the perfect boy image projected on the show. He decided to have an interview with a controversial magazine, and it ended up causing him many problems. Cassidy wanted his freedom back; he was growing tired of the series.
Cassidy stopped hiding his party habits and drinking problems. He also posed naked for a magazine, which was his way of rebelling against the studio. It caused a lot of controversy, but the image made the magazine’s cover, and renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz shot it.
The Famous Bus No Longer Exists
The groovy bus that the family traveled the country in was an iconic part of the series. You would think it would have been preserved because it is a piece of pop culture history. However, that was not the case. After the show ended, the bus sat behind Lucy’s Tacos on Martin Luther King Blvd. by USC.
The bus got trashed because it wasn’t guarded, and anyone could mess with it. Eventually, it ended up in the dump because it no longer looked like the fantastic vehicle from the famous series. It would have been cool if someone took the part of the bus that said “The Partridge Family” on it for a museum, but no one will ever get to see it again.
The Partridge Family Had a Dog That Disappeared
In Season One of the series, the family had a dog named Simone, but the dog magically disappeared without any explanation during the second season. It was never discussed on the show, and no one really knows why they got rid of the dog because it appeared in the animated spin-off.
The Brady Bunch also had a dog named Tiger who vanished after the first season, and he wasn’t spoken of again. It seems like these shows like to replace or remove actors without any mention. However, it doesn’t seem like any fans were too upset about the dog’s absence.
The Show’s Success Made Jack Cassidy Jealous
Jack Cassidy, David Cassidy’s father and Shirley Jones’s ex-husband, was a theater and film star before his wife and son overshadowed him with their success. As an alcoholic who struggled with his mental health, the fame his family members received from The Partridge Family pushed him to the edge and strained his relationship with his son.
Jack Cassidy’s behavior became increasingly bizarre during the time of the show. He reportedly watered his lawn naked while referring to himself as Jesus. His marriage to Jones broke down, and the couple divorced in 1975. A year later, he died in a fire caused by one of his cigarettes.
A Fan Passed Away During David Cassidy’s Concert
When Cassidy reached superstardom, he took some time away from The Partridge Family to perform solo concerts around the world. In 1974, he had a show in London in front of 35,000 people. During the event, everyone rushed forward, leaving numerous people injured and a 14-year-old unconscious.
The girl never regained consciousness and passed away two days later. The tragedy impacted Cassidy for the rest of his life, and it caused him to stop touring. He already considered throwing in the towel, and the girl’s passing pushed him to do it sooner. He started to struggle with addiction shortly after the incident.
David Cassidy Wasn’t Initially Close With His Stepmom, Shirley Jones
When The Partridge Family began, Jones was married to Jack Cassidy, who had a son, David, from a previous marriage. Jones was Cassidy’s stepmom, and although their relationship was strained at first, they became close as they worked together on the show.
When they appeared on set for the first time to film a scene together, Cassidy was dumbstruck. He had no idea they had both been cast to work on the show. However, the more they worked together, the more their personal and professional relationship flourished. They remained close even after Jones divorced Cassidy’s father.
Danny Bonaduce Desperately Wanted to Be Friends With David Cassidy
Bonaduce was struggling at home with his abusive father, so the cast became his family. He looked at Cassidy like the older brother he never had but always wanted. Although he was nine years younger than Cassidy, Bonaduce wanted to spend all his time with him even though there was no real relationship between the two.
Cassidy was smoking pot with his friends in his room on one occasion. When Bonaduce tried to join, Cassidy quickly kicked him out because he was just a kid and said, “If no one is going to watch out for you, I will.” Bonaduce took comfort in this but also felt embarrassed that Cassidy called him a kid.
Ricky Was Added to Boost Ratings
When in doubt, bring in a child. That’s what producers thought when they added Ricky to the cast during Season Four. He was supposed to boost ratings, which were declining during that time. However, as many people know, Season Four was the last because the show was canceled.
The producers were caught up in the Jackson Five effect and initially thought to bring an African American child for the part. In the end, they decided to go with Ricky Segall, but that didn’t save the show. We guess there was nothing that could have been done to keep The Partridge Family on the air.
Shirley Jones Was the Only One Who Was Supposed to Sing
When the producers cast Jones on the show, she was supposed to be the only cast member to actually sing. However, when they heard Cassidy’s demo, they decided to let him sing with his stepmom because he had a great voice too.
It was a great choice on the producers’ part because Cassidy was a legend. A world without David Cassidy singing is not a world we want to live in. Also, what would The Partridge Family be without Cassidy’s vocals? We wonder if the show would have been as successful without his voice.
Ricky Springfield Almost Played Keith Partridge
When the fourth season was ending, and the producers were trying to decide if they could do a fifth, which is what they wanted, they thought about replacing David Cassidy. Cassidy wanted to quit the show anyway, so they thought Ricky Springfield would be a suitable replacement.
While Springfield never got the chance to play Keith Partridge because the show was canceled, it would have been sad to see anyone else besides Cassidy in the role. He was what made the show so iconic, and every fan would have missed his dashing good looks and voice.
David Cassidy’s Voice Was Altered for the Show
If you have heard Cassidy sing on a solo album or live in concert, you might have noticed his voice sounded different than it did on The Partridge Family. Like every other character on the show, the songs were pre-recorded in a studio.
During the recording process, the studio altered Cassidy’s voice to sound higher than it actually was because that was more appealing to audiences. They would adjust the audio in the studio and on set to get the perfect pitch. People noticed his voice was different when he briefly toured.
Shirley Jones Struggled With Her Fame
Jones’s life went through many ups and downs due to her fame. Her biggest issue was that the public found it hard to separate The Partridge Family cast from the real-life actors playing them, which caused serious problems in their lives.
Today this is still a problem for actors; however, back in the ‘70s, the concept of media was still new, so it was even more challenging for fans to separate the actors from their roles. People also assumed Jones was Cassidy’s real mother, which made his actual mother very upset.
What Happened in the Last Episode of The Partridge Family?
The last episode of The Partridge Family aired on March 23, 1974. Surprisingly, the episode was called S.O.S, and they certainly needed some help at the time because the ratings practically didn’t exist. In the episode, Shirley Partridge is surprised to find out that an old boyfriend of hers is in town to make a speech.
The boyfriend was a Navy captain, but Keith and Danny Partridge thought he didn’t have good intentions towards their mother. It wasn’t written like a series finale, so viewers never found out if Keith and Danny discovered anything about the Navy captain. The writers must have been hopeful that there would be another season.
Who Passed Away From the Cast of The Partridge Family?
After the show ended, the actors from The Partridge Family moved on with their lives. They took on new roles or decided to try other ventures. The two cast members who passed away from the cast are David Cassidy and Suzanne Crough. The creator of the show also passed away from complications with dementia.
The rest of the cast of The Partridge Family (Shirley Jones, Danny Bonaduce, Susan Dey, and Brian Forster) are still alive and well. Many of them have retired from acting or decided to go into radio. Unfortunately, a full reunion will never happen because Susan Dey refuses to speak to her former castmates.
Suzanne Crough Passed Away Suddenly
Suzanne Crough played the role of the youngest sibling, Tracy, on the show. Following her role on The Partridge Family, she made many guest appearances on different TV shows, including Mulligan’s Stew. Her last known acting role was in the 1980 TV movie called Children of Divorce.
After she quit acting, Crough graduated from Los Angeles Pierce College and opened a bookstore, which she ran until 1993. She participated in the cast reunion in 2010, stating she was a manager at OfficeMax in Arizona at the time. Sadly, Crough passed away in 2015 at 52-years-old due to heart disease.
David Cassidy Struggled With Substance Abuse and Alcoholism
At just 20-years-old, Cassidy was cast as Keith Partridge, and it shot him to superstardom. He quickly became the heartthrob of the ‘70s while performing on the show and on his own. In his later years, Cassidy starred on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in 2013. However, his lackluster career after the show ended in 1974 pushed him to his limits.
Cassidy suffered from alcoholism and drug abuse not too long after the show ended. He had multiple DUI’s in the 2010s, and his vices contributed to his liver failure, which was his cause of death in 2017 when he was just 67. It was a sad day when the world lost David Cassidy.
Susan Dey Was Considered for the Role of Sandy in Grease
In 1978, Dey was considered for the role of Sandy in Grease, but she was beat out by Olivia Newton-John. However, Dey got the most significant break in her career (and surpassing The Partridge Family) with her role in LA Law. This role gave Dey three Emmy nominations and one Golden Globe with five other nominations.
After LA Law, Dey’s career quieted down, and her last role was in a 2004 episode of Third Watch. Although she isn’t acting these days, Dey is heavily involved with the UCLA Medical Center’s Rape Treatment Center where she serves as a board member. She also narrated a documentary about campus assault, which helped many victims.
Brian Forster Left Showbiz to Drive Racecars
After replacing Jeremy Gelbwaks as Chris Partridge, Brian Forster stayed in the role until the final season. When he joined the show, he wasn’t even a teenager. However, after the show ended, his career took a literal turn, and he started driving racecars. He continued to act occasionally, but outside of Hollywood.
Forster’s last known role was in the TV series Break a Leg in 2008. Although he hasn’t acted on the small screen since this role, Forster is involved with community theater. He was destined to be a part of the arts as he is the great-great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens.
Shirley Jones Had Plenty to Say About Her Costars’ Singing Abilities
While Jones and Cassidy were the only real singers in the group, Jones wasn’t afraid to show her opinions about the other cast members. She was very vocal about the fact that she thought the others weren’t good enough singers to be in the studio. While she might have been right, it wasn’t nice to say to a group of children.
Jones once stated that Dey, Bonaduce, Crough, Gelbwalks, and Forster were nowhere near good enough singers to have their voices featured on the show. We always learned that if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all, and she should have kept her opinions to herself. Clearly, the producers saw something in their acting abilities that trumped the need to sing.
People Thought the Kids Could Really Play Their Instruments
Just like the fans thought the actors from The Partridge Family were a family in real life, they also thought the kids could actually play all the instruments. People genuinely thought the actors were all singing and playing their instruments, but that was by no means the case.
The only member from the cast that could actually play an instrument was Cassidy. He was the guitarist of the family, and he was very talented. However, Bonaduce, Crough, Forster, and Dey were merely mimicking playing their respective instruments, and the music was dubbed over.
Dave Madden Had an Interesting Life Before the Show
Dave Madden played the Partridge Family manager, Reuben Kinkaid, on the series. He actually had a fascinating life before the series. Born in Canada and raised in Terre Haute, Indiana, Madden went off to join the Air Force after high school, where his love for comedy allowed him to perform in front of the King of Libya.
Madden’s time in the Air Force led him to a comedy and stage acting career, and he got his big break in a Beverly Hills nightclub. He had a few shows before landing the role on The Partridge Family. He was close with his castmates and opened his home to Bonaduce when he was struggling. Madden sadly passed away in 2014.
The Series Was Doing Well Until the Fourth Season
During the first three seasons of The Partridge Family, the show was ranked among the top 20 shows on TV. However, going into the fourth season, it was plucked from the 8:30 p.m. timeslot on Fridays to 8 p.m. on Saturdays. It was at the same time as the competitor, All in the Family, on CBS.
This move, coupled with an exhausted Cassidy wanting to move on, ultimately led ABC to pull the plug before starting the fifth season. Sadly, the show couldn’t compete with All in the Family in the same time slot on another channel, and they lost a lot of their viewers.
The Theme Song Changed
After the first season of The Partridge Family, actors and dogs changed as well as the theme song. In the first season, the theme song was called “When We’re Singing.” It had different lyrics, a different arrangement, but people didn’t dislike it. However, when the second season premiered, things were much different.
In the second season, the new theme song was the iconic “Come on Get Happy,” which remained the theme song for the last three seasons. It was much catchier, and people enjoyed the tune. When the show was played as re-runs, the episodes from the first season also had “Come on Get Happy” as the theme song.
Suzanne Crough Kept the Patti Partridge Doll
The Patti Partridge doll was first introduced in the Season Two premiere. Tracy (Crough) was shielding the doll’s ears with her fingers to block out Dora’s off-key singing. The doll, occasionally seen in several episodes before, was never seen again. It was supposed to be Tracy’s favorite doll, and suddenly they removed it from the show.
Crough later said she kept the doll for her personal collection. We wonder why the producers got rid of the doll because it didn’t hurt the show in any way. They probably could have sold replicas as official merchandise to make even more money than they already did.
Shirley Jones and David Cassidy Didn’t Know They Were Both on the Show
According to Jones, she and Cassidy were the front runners for the roles of Shirley and Keith Partridge, but they didn’t know the other was involved for a while. Also, the producers had no idea Jones was Cassidy’s stepmom because they had different last names.
It wasn’t until after they saw that the other had been cast that Cassidy asked Jones what she was doing there, and she told him she’d be playing the mother. It was pretty hilarious that they didn’t realize it but working together greatly improved their personal relationship.