The Partridge Family’s David Cassidy Dies at 67
By Christina Dugan
November 21, 2017
“On behalf of the entire Cassidy family, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, our uncle, and our dear brother, David Cassidy,” his family said in a statement Tuesday. “David died surrounded by those he loved, with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long. Thank you for the abundance and support you have shown him these many years.”
The actor, widely known for his starring role as Keith Partridge on the 1970s series The Partridge Family, died from organ failure Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 67.
The actor had been in intensive care since he was hospitalized for liver and kidney failure last week.
Cassidy publicly admitted his struggle with alcohol abuse in 2008. He also battled substance abuse issues, which involved a stint in rehab in 2014 — but in his final days, his family dropped everything to be by his side.
His rep previously confirmed to PEOPLE that the actor was initially in a medically induced coma, but on Saturday was conscious and surrounded by loved ones.
Cassidy is survived by son Beau with ex-wife Sue Shifrin-Cassidy; his daughter Katie; his brothers Shaun, Patrick and Ryan; step-mother Shirley Jones; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Plans for a memorial service will be announced at a later date.
“There had been many family issues because of his alcoholism, but they are all reuniting in support of him,” a source close to Cassidy told PEOPLE on Sunday. “He was delighted to see them.”
“When his brother Patrick walked into the room, David lit up like a Christmas tree,” added the source. “There’s been total resolution within the family. They will always be there for him.”
Cassidy, the son of singer and actor Jack Cassidy and actress Evelyn Ward, kickstarted his acting career in Broadway’s The Fig Leaves Are Falling at the age of 19 and found stardom on The Partridge Family alongside his stepmother, Shirley Jones, when he was 20 years old.
The actor quickly made a name for himself as the lead singer on the show, eventually taking his skills on tour around the world — singing both Partridge tunes and originals, which instantaneously made him a 1970s teen heartthrob.
Easily selling out arenas around the world, the media was quick to name the Cassidy phenomenon “Cassidymania” — a term the star himself was hesitant to embrace.
In 1974, what started out as excitement to see Cassidy sing live in London’s White City Stadium quickly turned into tragedy. An 800-person stampede occurred at his show, killing one teenage girl.
“I feel burnt up inside,” he told the Daily Mail at the time. “I’m 24, a big star … in a position that millions dream of, but the truth is I just can’t enjoy it.”
Soon after, Cassidy decided to stop touring and acting and focused his energy toward songwriting and recording. In the years that followed, Cassidy managed to find great success in both TV and music, working with artists such as Barry Manilow and George Michael. But throughout his career, the New York native experienced his share of ups and downs.
In November 2010, he was charged with a DUI. He was subsequently charged with the same offense in August 2013 and January 2014. A month after his third arrest, his then-wife, Sue Shifrin-Cassidy, filed for divorce. In February 2015, the actor filed for bankruptcy and was charged in a hit-and-run in October 2015.
In February 2017, Cassidy exclusively revealed to PEOPLE that he was battling dementia.
“I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming,” said Cassidy, who watched his grandfather battle the disease and witnessed his mother “disappear” into dementia until she died at age 89.
Of his mother’s struggles, Cassidy recalled: “In the end, the only way I knew she recognized me is with one single tear that would drop from her eye every time I walked into the room. … I feared I would end up that way.”
Cassidy was married three times (Kay Lenz from 1977-83, Meryl Tanz from 1984-85, and Sue Shifrin from 1991-2014). In February, he opened up about his complicated relationships with both of his kids.
“I’ve never had a relationship with her,” he said of his only daughter, Katie, who has starred on Gossip Girl and Arrow.
“I wasn’t her father — I was her biological father but I didn’t raise her,” he said. “She has a completely different life.”
Though Cassidy revealed that he and Katie — whose mom is former model Sherry Williams — weren’t in contact at the time, he was proud of the woman she has become.
“She’s very talented,” he said. “It’s hard for me to even accept how old she is now, like 30.”
The former the teen idol admitted to having kept his dementia diagnosis a secret, but he said Beau, whose mother is Cassidy’s ex-wife Shifrin, had been fully aware and supportive.
“He knows that I’m just a little off,” he said. “Sometimes he cocks his head at me a little bit and goes, ‘Dad do you remember?’ and I say, ‘No, I know I do, I remember.’ He’ll give me reminders once in a while.”
“He’s such a beautiful person,” he added.
CASSIDY, David (David Bruce Cassidy)
Born: 4/12/1950, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 11/21/2017, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.A.
David Cassidy’s westerns – actor:
Bonanza (TV) – 1970 (Billy Burgess)
Forgiven This Gun4hire – 2018 (Blackie Wade)