David Cassidy, best known for playing guitar-strumming teen heartthrob Keith Partridge on the 1970s musical TV series The Partridge Family, died November 21 near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 67 and had been in critical condition following organ failure.
“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 rep JoAnn Geffen said in a statement released to the press. “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 pop culture idol hailed from musical theatre stock. The son of Tony-winning actor Jack Cassidy, known for his starring roles in She Loves Me and It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman…, his mother Evelyn Ward also enjoyed success as a musical theatre actor, succeeding Gwen Verdon in the Tony-winning Broadway musical New Girl in Town. The couple divorced in 1956.
But it was Cassidy’s enduring on-screen relationship with his real-life stepmother Shirley Jones in the hit TV series The Partridge Family that helped cement his place in American pop culture.
Cassidy began his acting career onstage, making his Broadway debut in the short-lived musical The Fig Leaves Are Falling, which closed after 21 performances in January 1969. The Partridge Family premiered the following September, launching Cassidy's career as a major television star.
Less than two months into the show’s first season, Cassidy scored a major win with his cover of Tony Romeo’s “I Think I Love You,” which became a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Cassidy and Jones are the only two Partridge Family cast members whose actual vocals are heard on the recording.
The single’s meteoric rise, coupled with Cassidy’s international popularity as one of the biggest teen idols of the 1970s, led to a hugely successful solo career that drew sell-out crowds in major arenas across the world.
Cassidy returned to the stage in the years that followed, replacing Donny Osmond in the 1982 Broadway revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and taking over for Michael Crawford in the high-tech Las Vegas production of EFX in 1997.
He made a highly publicized return to Broadway in 1993, starring opposite half-brother Shaun Cassidy as fraternal twins in the Willy Russell musical Blood Brothers. The Cassidy brothers joined “Downtown” hit-maker Petula Clark in the Broadway company. Clark and David Cassidy led the 1994 U.S. national tour of Blood Brothers, and all three preserved their performances on a 1995 international studio cast album.
He last appeared in New York at B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill in March of this year.