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The Partridge Family was the '70s successor to the Monkees. Both were totally fictional rock/pop "bands" produced by Screen Gems, the television branch of Columbia Pictures. While the Monkees (TV series and band concept) were styled as mid-'60s counter-culture zaniness à la the Beatles' film Hard Days Night, the Partridge Family was strictly wholesome with traditional family values despite the lite quasi-hip tone of the show. The top-rated series first-aired on ABC from 1970 to 1974, premiering September 25, 1970. Besides the face and voice of David Cassidy ,one of the other draws of the show was the uncanny deadpan timing of Danny Bonaduce as Danny Partridge and the simmering neurosis of the group's manager Reuben Kincaid as played by Dave Madden. When sharing a scene together, the two were hysterical.
Starring stage and screen veteran Shirley Jones and then up-and-coming actor David Cassidy, The Partridge Family was loosely based on real-life family pop/rock band the Cowsills ("Hair," "The Rain, The Park & Other Things," "Indian Lake," "Love American Style"). The other Partridge siblings were Susan Dey as Laurie, Suzanne Crough as Tracy, and Jeremy Gelbwaks as Chris during the first season. Gelbwaks' parents felt uncomfortable with the ensuing mania that surrounded the show and took the youngster out of the cast. He was replaced in the role by Brian Foster. The only members of the cast heard on the records are lead vocalist Cassidy and Shirley Jones on background vocals. All of the Partridge Family records were originally released on Bell Records. The harmonies on the Family's records were quite similar to another Bell act, the 5th Dimension.
As crucial as Cassidy proved to the success of the show, it may come as a surprise that the producers were skeptical about hiring him because they were wary of the fact that Shirley Jones was his stepmother. Jones assured them that she and Cassidy were on good terms. At the height of the show's popularity, Cassidy received 30,000 letters per week.
In the premiere episode, the Partridge siblings ask their mom Shirley to help them make a record label demo. Recording "I Think I Love You," the family gets signed to a record label and has a number one record their first time out. "I Think I Love You," written by Tony Romeo and producer by Wes Farell, actually did become a number one million-selling pop hit, holding down the spot for three weeks beginning November 21, 1970.
Other Partridge Family hits were: "Doesn't Somebody Want to Be Wanted," another million-seller hitting number six pop in early 1971; "I'll Meet You Halfway," which hit number nine pop in spring 1971; and "I Woke Up in Love This Morning" from summer 1971. Besides "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," none of the other Partridge Family singles broke the Pop Top 30. The huge album sales were fueled by the show's practice of fully featuring two songs per episode. As with the Monkees, top L.A. session players the Wrecking Crew (bassist Joe Osborn, drummer Hal Blaine, and keyboardist Larry Knechtel) were recruited to play on the Patridge Family hits. The Crew can also be heard on the background music of the TV series.
Though he contributed a song or two to the Partridge Family songbook ("Love Is All That I Ever Needed"), Cassidy felt creatively stifled and wanted to have a musical identity outside of the show. Getting a deal with Bell, his first solo single,"Cherish," was a number nine pop million-seller and hit number one on the adult contemporary charts in November 1971.
The Cherish LP was released around February 1972. In the mid-'70s, he signed with RCA Records, though none of the singles charted.
Of course, with a phenomenally successful Top Ten TV show comes the opportunity for a merchandising bonanza. There were Partridge Family games, magazines, coloring books, music and paperback books, pillow cases, toy guitars, dolls, lunch boxes, beach towels, paper dolls, and a line of children's clothing, which generated about 500 million dollars in licensing revenue for the studio. With so much money being generated from his visage, Cassidy wanted a piece of the profits. With no provision in the original contract for merchandising revenue sharing, the producers rebuffed his request. In an effort to compensate for this loss and to cash in on his own fame, Cassidy began playing weekend concerts in front of tens of thousands of fans. The exhaustive schedule had Cassidy dragging himself onto The Partridge Family set on Monday mornings. Then a loophole was found in the contract. Since Cassidy was a minor when he signed the contract, the terms were deemed null and void. With this revelation, Cassidy was able to get a more appealing contract, ask for and receive a salary increase, as well as a piece of the merchandising pie, making him the highest paid entertainer of that time. As the show became increasingly popular, Cassidy became more at odds with the squeaky clean image of the Keith Partridge character. To alleviate the dichotomy, Cassidy did a scathing interview in Rolling Stone, basically knocking the show, admitting to his marijuana use and groupie sex. He also posed for a frontal, semi-nude poster that was included in the issue. To no avail, the show's ratings remained high. After four seasons, Cassidy decided to call it quits, and the producers, deciding that there was no show without him, stopped production on the show.
After the run of the series was over, Cassidy appeared in a critically acclaimed episode of the NBC anthology series Police Story. This led to Columbia Television producing David Cassidy: Man Undercover for the network. The combination of bad scripts and inability of some of his fans to not see him as anybody other than Keith Partridge caused the series to be short lived. Despondent over the loss of his father, actor Jack Cassidy, in a penthouse fire on December 11, 1976, and the unresolved issues in their relationship, depleted finances (he made 8 million dollars between 1970 and 1974, by 1980 his assets totaled 100,000 dollars), and his failing career, Cassidy suffered a bout with depression and substance abuse. Having hit rock bottom and through the support of his friends, the entertainer sought professional counseling. Back on track, Cassidy began performing in theater starring in George M. Cohan's Little Johnny Jones in 1981, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1983, Blood Brothers with Petula Clark, with his half-brother and former teen idol Shaun Cassidy in Blood Brothers on Broadway, and Time on London's West End. Going back in the recording studio, he recorded a fall 1990 pop hit, "Lyin' to Myself," for Enigma. He wrote and sang the theme song for NBC's The John Larroquette Show and developed a sitcom pilot for Fox, Ask Harriett, that was similar to '80s Tom Hanks/Peter Scolari sitcom Bosom Buddies.
In 1994 Cassidy's memoir "C'mon, Get Happy...Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus (Warner Books ,out of print) detailed the "sexcapades," his alcohol and drug abuse, and his depression when he was no longer a star. He was most bitter about the money others made from his image. Though in the '90s, he collected residuals on cable channel Nickelodeon's Nick at Nite broadcasts of the show and royalties from Partridge Family records reissued on Razor & Tie.
In 1996, Cassidy landed a two-year contract for the special effects laden Las Vegas musical EFX. He also appeared at the MTV Music Awards with Susan Dey and hosted specials on VH1. He released two albums in the '90s: Didn't You Used to Be..." (Scotti Bros., 1992) and Old Trick, New Dog (Slamajama, 1998). A 1999 tour was scheduled for the entertainer, but it was postponed due to a foot injury he suffered from the physically taxing 1,000-plus performances of EFX.
Most of the cast made guest appearances on other TV shows but eventually drifted into private life. Danny Bonaduce, after much-publicized travails, had a successful career as a radio DJ with stints in Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York. During the mid-'90s, he had his own nationally syndicated talk show, Danny, produced by Columbia Pictures Television. One segment was a Partridge Family reunion sans Cassidy and Dey. Susan Dey starred in the feature films Looker, First Love, various TV movies, and the hit NBC show L.A. Law. On June 18, 1999, Jones received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fifth Annual Temecula Valley International Film Festival. That same year, she hosted a Disney Channel special with platinum-selling new age group Mannheim Steamroller, Mannheim Steamroller Meets the Mouse.
Berated by some, just as the Monkees were ("the Fabricated Four," a snide variation of the Beatles' press-tagged nom de plume, the Fab Four) for not being a "real" band, the Partridge Family (the TV show and the record releases) have outlasted their contemporary critics, selling over 25 million records and leaving a lasting legacy of fan clubs and enduring rock/pop/bubblegum music.
The Partridge Family is an American television sitcom series about a widowed mother, played by Shirley Jones, and her five children who embark on a music career. It ran from September 25, 1970, until March 23, 1974, on the ABC network as part of a Friday-night lineup, and had subsequent runs in syndication.
PremiseThe Partridge Family, season 1
In the pilot episode, a group of musical siblings in the fictitious city of San Pueblo, California convinces their widowed mother and bank teller, Shirley Partridge, to help them out by singing as they record a pop song in their garage. Through the efforts of precocious ten-year-old Danny, they find a manager, Reuben Kincaid, who helps make the song a Top 40 hit. After some more persuading, Shirley agrees that the family can go on tour. They acquire an old school bus, a 1957 Chevrolet Series 6800 Superior, for touring, paint it with Mondrian-inspired patterns, and depart to Las Vegas, Nevada for their first live gig at Caesars Palace.
Subsequent episodes usually feature the band performing in various venues or in their garage. The shows often contrast suburban life with the adventures of a show business family on the road. After the first season, more of the show's action takes place in their home town rather than on tour.
Created for television by Bernard Slade, the series' executive producer was Bob Claver. The show was inspired by and loosely based on The Cowsills, a family pop music group that was famous in the late 1960s. In the show's early development, the Cowsill children were considered by the producers, but because the Cowsills were not trained actors and were too old for the roles as scripted, Slade and Claver abandoned that idea. Shirley Jones had already been signed as mother Shirley Partridge and star of the show.
The pilot was filmed in December 1969. It differs from the version that aired in 1970. In the unaired pilot, Shirley's name is "Connie", and she has a boyfriend, played by Jack Cassidy, Jones' real-life husband at the time. Laurie has a line of dialogue about her late father once getting drunk at a Christmas party, and the family lives at a different address. This unaired pilot is not available on home video.
Shortly after the series ended, scriptwriter Roberta Tatum launched a lawsuit against Screen Gems concerning the creation of the show. Tatum claimed that she had submitted a similar premise to Screen Gems prior to 1970 called Baker's Half-Dozen. The matter was resolved out of court, with Tatum receiving a reported $150,000 from Screen Gems.The Partridge Family, season 1 C'mon, Get Happy, p. 51-52 "An Interview with Bob Claver, part 2". Cmongethappy.com. Retrieved 2012-03-31. Appelton, Jerry, "TVQ", The Toronto Star, April 21, 1978, page D3.
Cast and charactersShirley Jones as Shirley Partridge: vocals, keyboards, tambourine, percussionDavid Cassidy as Keith Partridge: lead vocals, rhythm guitar, electric lead guitars, banjoSusan Dey as Laurie Partridge: vocals, harmony, piano, Hammond organ, percussionDanny Bonaduce as Danny Partridge: vocals, bass guitarJeremy Gelbwaks as Chris Partridge (season 1): vocals, drumsBrian Forster as Chris Partridge (seasons 2–4): vocals, drumsSuzanne Crough as Tracy Partridge: tambourine, percussionDave Madden as Reuben Kincaid: band managerRicky Segall as Ricky Stevens (season 4): singer
Notable guest stars
During its four-season run, many actors made guest appearances on the show. Some of them were known at the time, such as Morey Amsterdam, John Astin, Carl Ballantine, Edgar Buchanan, Dick Clark, Jackie Coogan, Howard Cosell, Jodie Foster, Ned Glass, James Gregory, Margaret Hamilton, Pat Harrington, Jr., Arte Johnson, Harvey Lembeck, Harry Morgan, Slim Pickens, Richard Pryor, Barbara Rhoades, William Schallert, Nita Talbot, Larry Wilcox, Dick Wilson, and William Windom. While others would later become famous, such as Meredith Baxter, Richard Bull, Bert Convy, Farrah Fawcett, Norman Fell, Tony Geary, Louis Gossett, Jr., Harold Gould, Jackie Earle Haley, Mark Hamill, Ann Jillian, Gordon Jump, Cheryl Ladd, William Lucking, Stuart Margolin, Richard Mulligan, Michael Ontkean, Noam Pitlik, Annette O'Toole, Charlotte Rae, Rob Reiner, Jack Riley, Jaclyn Smith, Vic Tayback, Nancy Walker, and Frank Welker.The Partridge Family, season 3
Country singer Johnny Cash made a cameo appearance in the pilot episode. Ray Bolger played Shirley's father in three episodes, and Rosemary DeCamp played Shirley's mother in four episodes. Then-Governor Ronald Reagan's daughter, Maureen Reagan, was also featured in one episode. Future Charlie's Angels stars, Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett and Cheryl Ladd all made guest appearances on separate episodes.
Bobby Sherman appeared in episode 25 (the last episode of the first season) as struggling songwriter Bobby Conway; this episode led into a short-lived spinoff series on ABC, Getting Together, starring Sherman and Wes Stern as Bobby Conway's business partner Lionel Poindexter.Ray Bolger at the Internet Movie Database Rosemary DeCamp at the Internet Movie Database
EpisodesMain article: List of The Partridge Family episodes
At the end of the first season, Jeremy Gelbwaks' family moved out of the Los Angeles area, and the part of Chris was recast with actor Brian Forster. According to David Cassidy, Gelbwaks "had a personality conflict with every person in the cast and the producers". A dog named "Simone" was featured in the first season, but was phased out during the second season. At the beginning of the fourth season, a four-year-old neighbor named Ricky Stevens (Ricky Segall) was featured and would sing a children's song during each episode, but was dropped mid-season.
Led by music producer Wes Farrell, a group of hired studio musicians (informally referred to as the Wrecking Crew) actually created the Partridge Family's sound. The harmonious background vocalists were brothers John and Tom Bahler, Jackie Ward and Ron Hicklin (initially the Ron Hicklin Singers). David Cassidy was originally to lip sync with the rest of the cast, but he convinced Farrell just weeks into production that he could sing and was allowed to join the studio ensemble as the lead singer.
Despite best attempts, the Partridge Family Theme, shown over opening credits, underwent more than one incarnation. Initial episodes feature the song "When We're Singin'" in place of the popular title later used, "C'mon Get Happy". The latter—a play upon the 1920s song "Get Happy" which also features the tag "Come on, Get Happy (we're gonna chase all your blues away)"—was likely a hidden influence in the "wide-audience appeal" approach of the show and its music. Significant is the verse lyric that began the initial theme "When We're Singin'":
"Five of us, and Mom working all day,
we knew we could help her if our music would pay, Danny got Reuben to sell our song, and it reallycame together when Mom sang along..." (from "When We're Singin'")
Later, when the new version appeared, it featured new lyrics sung to the "When We're Singin'" tune. With the new chorus finalized, "C'mon Get Happy" showcased the new verse:
"We had a dream, we'd go travelin' together, We'd spread a little lovin' then we'd keep movin' on. Somethin' always happens whenever we're togetherWe get a happy feelin' when we're singing a song..." (from "C'Mon Get Happy")
Also of interest, when the first theme is replaced by Danny Janssen's new lyric, the "outro" credits music bed is also replaced, from the organ/horn call-and-response music, to a newer jazzy instrumental of the title theme, which Janssen likely saw no profit from, as it featured no lyric, only the Wes Farrell tune.
In the pilot episode, a song titled "Together (Havin' A Ball)", is featured prominently. This song is not the Partridge Family that we eventually would know, and does not feature Cassidy/Jones vocal layering later added to studio musicals and singers. Its lyrics, as transcribed, were clearly intended to be in contention for the series theme. This song, which was never available on any Partridge LP, was likely buried by producers. The song has been credited to The Love Generation, a group of LA studio musicians (similar to the Wrecking Crew) and jingle singers.C'mon, Get Happy Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus by David Cassidy and Chip Deffaa, 1994 DBC Enterprises, Warner Books Inc, p. 87 Cite error: The named reference cmon56-60 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
David Cassidy Rolling Stone interview
In the midst of his rise to fame, David Cassidy soon grew tired of the show. In May 1972, he appeared nude on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in a cropped Annie Leibovitz photo. He used the article to get away from his squeaky clean image. Amongst other things, the article mentions Cassidy was riding around New York in the back of a car "stoned and drunk".C'mon, Get Happy, p. 92-95 C'Mon Get Happy pg 167 Rolling Stone magazine – David Cassidy – "Naked Lunch Box" (the title of the article), written by Robin Green, May 11, 1972.
ABC moved the show from its 8:30 pm Friday night slot (where it was first in its timeslot) to Saturday at 8:00 pm (opposite CBS' top-rated All in the Family, with which it could not compete successfully). After 96 episodes and eight Partridge Family albums, ABC canceled the show.
Ratings1970–1971: No. 251971–1972: No. 161972–1973: No. 191973–1974: Not in the Top 30
Nickelodeon featured a run of The Partridge Family from 1993 to 1994 as part of its Nick-At-Nite lineup. The network used interviews and commercials featuring cast members, and created a new version of the bus for promotion. The show also aired at various times on Fox Family, ION Television, and Hallmark Channel. As of January 2011, it airs on Antenna TV.
The cast was reunited in the 1990s on The Arsenio Hall Show and The Danny Bonaduce Show and were featured on The E! True Hollywood Story, Biography and VH1's Behind The Music.
When the digital subchannel Antenna TV premiered in January 2011, The Partridge Family became one of its offerings through the network's distribution agreement with Sony Pictures Television (parent company and successor of series producer Screen Gems)."Partridge Family | Antenna TV – Antenna TV". Antennatv.tv. Retrieved 2012-03-31. "Antenna TV's Fall Schedule". Dtvusaforum.com. Retrieved 2012-03-31. by Pavan - (July 25, 2011). "Antenna TV Fall 2011 Schedule; OWN and TLC Acquires Undercover Boss Repeats for Fall 2012 – SitcomsOnline.com News Blog". Blog.sitcomsonline.com. Retrieved 2012-03-31. "Antenna TV: Classic Television and Movies on KTLA's Antenna TV 5.2". ktla.com. Retrieved 2012-03-31.
Awards and nominationsThe Palm Beach Post-Times. Sunday, March 14, 1971. "Elite of the Record Industry Await the Grammy Awards", page B16
ContentsMedia1.1 Albums1.1.1 Danny Bonaduce album1.2 Animated spin off1.3 The New Partridge Family1.4 DVD releases
AlbumsMain article: The Partridge Family discography
The Partridge Family was produced for ABC by Screen Gems. The company promoted the show by releasing a series of albums featuring the family band, though David Cassidy and Shirley Jones, who sang background, were the only cast members who were actually featured on the recordings.
As the show and other associated merchandising took off, David Cassidy became a teen idol. The producers signed Cassidy as a solo act as well. Cassidy began touring with his own group of musicians, performing Partridge songs as well as hits from his own albums, to thousands of screaming teenagers in major stadiums across the USA, UK, Europe, Japan and Australia.
The Partridge Family's biggest hit came in 1970 with the song "I Think I Love You", written by Tony Romeo (who had previously written several of the Cowsills' hits), peaked at Number 1 on the Billboard charts in December of that year. It sold over five million copies, was awarded a gold disc, and made the group the third fictional artist to have a No. 1 hit (after The Chipmunks and The Archies). The song's companion LP, The Partridge Family Album, reached Number 4 in the Billboard 200. It was also awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in December 1970, having sold over one million copies. A string of hit Partridge singles followed: "Doesn't Somebody Want to Be Wanted", "I'll Meet You Halfway", "I Woke Up In Love This Morning", "It's One of Those Nights (Yes Love)", "Am I Losing You", "Looking Through The Eyes Of Love", "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do", and "A Friend and a Lover". These singles were showcased on million-selling albums including Up To Date, Sound Magazine, Shopping Bag, Notebook, Crossword Puzzle, and Bulletin Board. Their holiday album A Partridge Family Christmas Card was the No. 1 selling Christmas record of 1971. Record sales success was replicated internationally, with The Partridge Family achieving huge hits in Canada, Great Britain, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In all, The Partridge Family released 89 songs on 9 albums between 1970 and 1973.
Danny Bonaduce album
Though Danny Bonaduce was not part of the session band, he, too, got a recording contract, and circa 1972 released a self-titled album, Danny Bonaduce. Though Bonaduce was credited as lead singer on all the songs, he insists that he had a very weak voice and that Bruce Roberts provided most of the vocals on the album. The first track on the album, a song entitled "I'll Be Your Magician", in which the 13-year-old Bonaduce seduces a woman into having sexual intercourse with him, has developed a cult following for its campy entertainment value. The original, watered-down, version of the song was recorded with Cassidy for the Sound Magazine album, but it was discarded and never released. In fall 2010, Cassidy dared Bonaduce to learn how to play the bass guitar lines on the songs the Partridge Family performed. Bonaduce learned the bass guitar line for "Doesn't Somebody Want to Be Wanted", stating that although he had no ability to read music, the song was relatively easy to learn; Cassidy and Bonaduce have performed together on rare occasions since that time.
Animated spin off
The Partridges had a brief resurgence in animated form which saw the family propelled into the future. The animated Partridges first appeared when the kids did a series of guest spots on Goober and the Ghost Chasers. That idea evolved into a CBS Saturday morning Hanna-Barbera-produced cartoon in 1974, Partridge Family 2200 A.D. (also called The Partridge Family in Outer Space when rerun later as part of Fred Flintstone and Friends). Shirley Jones and David Cassidy did not voice their animated counterparts (Shirley Partridge was renamed Connie Partridge in the cartoon), and Susan Dey and Dave Madden had very limited involvement with this cartoon.
The New Partridge Family
In 2004 VH1 produced a pilot for a syndicated The New Partridge Family, starring Suzanne Sole as Shirley, Leland Grant as Keith, Emma Stone as Laurie and Spencer Tuskowski as Danny. The pilot was the only episode produced.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released all 4 Seasons of The Partridge Family in DVD Region 1. Seasons 1 and 2 have been released in region 2 and 4.
On October 15, 2013, Sony released The Partridge Family - The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. The 12-disc set features all 96 episodes of the series as well as bonus features.
On August 27, 2013, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including Partridge Family. On April 18, 2014, it was announced that seasons 1 & 2 will be re-released on June 24, 2014.C'mon, Get Happy, p. 56-60 C'mon, Get Happy, p. 68-73 Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 284. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. "TSORT Song Artist 592 – The Partridge Family". Retrieved June 22, 2010. "TSORT Album Artist 994 – The Partridge Family". Retrieved June 22, 2010. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Christmas in the Charts (1920-2004). Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 179. ISBN 0-89820-161-6. Parry, Wayne (April 10, 2011). David Cassidy, Danny Bonaduce play Partridge song. Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-04-10. http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Partridge-Family-The-Complete-Series/18703 Mill Creek Entertainment Signs Deals With Sony Pictures Home Entertainment To Expand Their Distribution Partnership The First Two Seasons are Returning to DVD from Mill Creek Ent.