David Cassidy, the former star of “The Partridge Family” TV hit of the 1970s and a reluctant teen idol to the boomer generation, died Tuesday evening of liver failure, his publicist confirmed. He was 67.
The singer and actor died in Fort Lauderdale after being hospitalized in Florida for multiple organ failure, including his liver and kidneys. His death was confirmed by Jo-Ann Geffen. The singer had also suffered from dementia in recent months, and had announced he would stop performing as the disease worsened.
“I will always be eternally grateful for the love and support you’ve shown me,” he said in a statement earlier this year. “I still love very much to play and perform live. But it’s much more difficult for me now. I’m not going to vanish or disappear forever.”
Cassidy had booked small acting gigs before he first shot to fame playing singer Keith Partridge on ABC’s “The Partridge Family,” a gentle sitcom take on the family-band genre. The series, which also starred Cassidy’s real-life stepmother, Shirley Jones, debuted in 1970 and ran for four seasons.
Based on the musical family known as the Cowsills, “The Partridge Family,” with its colorful antics, was a smash hit, particularly with teenage girls.
His cover-boy looks, supplemented by a bright smile and stylish clothes, could be found on millions of teen bedroom walls, and the series launched a successful career for Cassidy as a pop singer and actor.
Clutching an umbrella, David Cassidy wanders down a road in London in 1974.(Ellidge / Getty Images)
David Cassidy shot to fame playing singer Keith Partridge on ABC’s “The Partridge Family.”(ABC Photo Archives / Getty Images)
The Partridge family, from left: Shirley Jones, Brian Forster, Suzanne Crough, Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce and David Cassidy.(Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images)
Shirley Jones and David Cassidy.(ABC Photo Archives / Getty Images)
“The Partridge Family” in Season 2, clockwise from left: Shirley Jones, David Cassidy, Susan Dey; Danny Bonaduce, Brian Forster, Suzanne Crough.(ABC Photo Archives / Getty Images)
“The Partridge Family,” from left: Shirley Jones, Suzanne Crough, David Cassidy, Jeremy Gelbwaks, Danny Bonaduce and Susan Dey.(ABC Photo Archives / Getty Images)
The Partridge family and their manager: Back row, from left, Shirley Jones, Dave Madden, David Cassidy and Susan Dey. Front row, from left, Brian Forster, Danny Bonaduce and Suzanne Crough. “The Partridge Family” ran on ABC from 1970-74. C’mon, get happy!(CPT Holdings Inc. / Sony Pictures Television)
Cassidy performing on a European tour on Oct. 12, 1973.(Michael Putland / Getty Images)
Cassidy poses for a portrait session in the studio in March 1982 in Los Angeles.(Donaldson Collection / Getty Images)
American actor and singer David Cassidy in 1972.(Photoshot / Getty Images)
Cassidy poses for a portrait with his mother, Evelyn Ward, and dog at home in October 1972 in Los Angeles.(Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)
David Cassidy in 1972.(Associated Press)
Cassidy, left, provided the theme song and made an appearance on the 1990s NBC sitcom “The John Larroquette Show,” with Larroquette.(Warner Bros.)
David Cassidy, right, and half brother Shaun appeared together in the 1994 Broadway musical “Blood Brothers.”(Bruce Gilbert / Newsday)
Cassidy as Mickey, and Petula Clark as Mrs. Johnstone, during the opening night performance of the musical “Blood Brothers” at the Orange County Performing Arts Center on Feb. 8, 1995.(Kevin P. Casey / Los Angeles Times)
Cassidy signs an autograph during a party at Bally’s at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa on Aug. 19, 1996.(Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times)
Cassidy, left, and Andy Kavovit, the actor who portrayed him in the NBC telefilm “The David Cassidy Story,” on Nov. 23, 1999. An executive producer of the biopic, Cassidy rerecorded all of his old hits, including “I Think I Love You,” “C’mon Get Happy” and “I Woke Up in Love This Morning."(Jill Connelly/ Associated Press)
Cassidy arrives at the ABC Disney summer press tour party in Pasadena on Aug. 8, 2009.(Dan Steinberg / Associated Press)
Cassidy sang on more than a dozen band and solo albums during his “Partridge Family” years. Some of their songs, including “I Think I Love You” and “I Woke Up In Love This Morning,” became major hits, and he performed in sold-out stadium tours.
Cassidy was born in New York City on April 12, 1950. His father, Jack Cassidy, was a Tony Award winning stage performer and his mother, Evelyn Ward, an actress. He was raised largely by grandparents and as his own fame grew, Cassidy said his relationship with his father deteriorated.
“He was a fabulous guy. I worshiped him,” Cassidy said. “But this is somebody who was obsessed with success.”
His father died in an apartment fire in West Hollywood in 1976. His mother died in 2012.
Cassidy was never entirely comfortable with his squeaky-clean image and the fan frenzy over the “Partridge Family”. He was more attracted to edgier rock fare, and the teenage mold did not fit his aspirations. Perhaps in response, he posed nude for an Annie Leibovitz photo that appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1972.
“What was tough was the way people my own age would perceive me as this image that was created of this sweet, innocent boy next door, which was the antithesis of the teenage life I had lived,” he told the The Times in 1995.
“I hitched up to Haight-Ashbury in the Summer of Love, you know? And I was very much politically aligned with that whole mentality, the whole ideology of that generation, the music, the culture, the behavior.”
He added, “It seemed whenever I’d read my name, it would be David ‘former teen idol sex symbol’ Cassidy.’ I used to think, ‘Well, I guess I’m going to have to do something more significant in my life, like David ‘convicted felon’ Cassidy or something,’ anything that would erase that convenient label.’ ”
Cassidy’s popularity led to some low points, including a 1974 London show where a girl was killed in a crush of fans at the front of the stage.
After leaving the Partridge fold, he went on to record more solo albums and star in several Broadway productions, including “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Blood Brothers.” In 1990, he returned to the U.S. pop charts with the single “Lying To Myself.”
Though he continued to perform late into his career, Cassidy struggled in his personal life. After three DUIs in five years, his then-wife Sue Shifrin-Cassidy filed for divorce, he declared bankruptcy and was charged with a hit-and-run in 2015. Two earlier marriages also ended in divorce.
“Until I really dealt with a lot of the demons in my life--the fear and self-doubt and unresolved issues with my old man--I could never feel fulfilled and happy,” he told The Times in 2000. “I tended to try and numb the pain, just tried to forget.”
In February, he announced that he was suffering from memory loss due to dementia, and would stop touring to focus on his personal life.
The decision came after a concert in Agoura Hills when he struggled to remember familiar lyrics. TMZ reported at the time that the singer seemed intoxicated during the show, posting video that showed him forgetting lyrics and nearly falling off the stage. During an appearance this year on the “Dr. Phil Show, Cassidy discussed his problems with alcohol but denied drinking before the show.
Cassidy said that his grandfather and mother had also struggled with dementia.
“A part of me always knew this was coming,” he said.
Cassidy is survived by a son; Beau; a daughter, actress Katie Cassidy; and three half-brothers, Shaun, Patrick and Ryan.
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Staff writers Nardine Saad and Alene Tchekmedyian contributed to this report.