Starry Facts About David Cassidy, The Brightest Teen Idol

October 6, 2023 | Brendan Da Costa

Starry Facts About David Cassidy, The Brightest Teen Idol


David Cassidy was the teen idol whose star went supernova and then turned his life into a devastating black hole of addiction and depression.


1. He Was Bigger Than Elvis

Long before anyone had heard of "Bieber Fever," there was "Cassidymania". For much of the 1970s, David Cassidy was the biggest teen idol the world had ever seen. His fan club dwarfed that of The Beatles and Elvis Presley. His devastating story, however, is a cautionary tale about what happens when a teen star goes supernova.

David Cassidy wearing black suit and white shirt is smiling and looking at side -  2004Joe Seer, Shutterstock

2. His Parents Were Stars

Even before his first mania-inducing concerts, David Cassidy was a star. His father, Jack Cassidy, was a famous actor and singer while his mother, Evelyn Ward was a star in her own right. There was little question, then, that little David Cassidy was destined for big things. But no one could have predicted the heights he would reach.

David Cassidy wearing shirt and jacket ,smiling at camera - 1973Hans Peters / Anefo, Wikimedia Commons

3. His Parents Abandoned Him

With so much star power in the home, little Cassidy didn't shine bright enough to get his parents' attention. At least, not a first. They spent so much time away from home, touring and filming, and away from the young Cassidy that they didn’t even raise him. 

For the most part, it was Cassidy’s humbler grandparents who took charge of his upbringing—but this led to some devastating moments.David Cassidy wearing grey shirt and jacket is seating with open arms - 1973Nationaal Archief, Wikimedia Commons

4. He Was The Last To Know

Cassidy was so distant from his parents that he had no idea what was happening with them. In fact, when his parents got divorced, Cassidy was the last one to hear about it. He only found out two years after the fact when kids in his neighborhood broke the bad news. Fortunately, a mother figure did eventually appear in Cassidy’s life.

David Cassidy wearing grey sweater is looking at side - 1972Joel Kramer, Flickr

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5. His Father Business Was Chasing Fame

Cassidy’s father remarried before the future teen idol even knew he had gotten divorced. Nevertheless, when he found out, Cassidy moved in with his father and his new stepmother, Shirley Jones. But a change in parents didn’t mean a change in lifestyle. Jones was, herself, an entertainer and the Cassidy family business was still all about chasing fame.Jack Cassidy looking at camera and smiling - 1967CBS Television, Wikimedia Commons

6. He Had A “Momager”

In an effort to kickstart his son’s career, Cassidy's father introduced him to the talent manager, Ruth Aarons. For all intents and purposes, Aarons was the nearest thing that Cassidy had ever had to a mother. Or, more accurately, a stage mother. She was certainly the only person who actually looked out for him in those early days.

Publicity shot of Ruth Aarons smiling at camera - 1936United States Table Tennis Association, Wikimedia Commons

7. His Debut Was A Flop

Aarons could see in Cassidy an undeniable star power. So, she did everything in her own power to help him reach his potential. She helped Cassidy make his debut in the four-performance-flop, The Fig Leaves are Falling. Even though the Broadway production fizzled and failed miserably, Cassidy stood out from the crowd. Something that he became very accustomed to.

David Cassidy is standing on the stage with make up artist - 1975Nationaal Archief, Wikimedia Commons

8. He Moved To Hollywood

A casting director who had seen the show spotted a rare quality in Cassidy—that quality of a natural-born entertainer. He invited the budding actor and singer to do a screen test and, from there, Cassidy couldn’t look back. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams. It seemed like nothing could stop Cassidy from realizing his potential.David Cassidy wearing grey shirt and jacket is smiling while walking at airport - 1973Nationaal Archief, Wikimedia Commons

9. He Made It Look Easy

For most stars, success in showbusiness takes years. For others, they simply keep dreaming of fame as they bus tables to pay their bills. But, for Cassidy, success in Hollywood only took months. Almost as soon as he landed in LAX, he also landed roles on hit shows such as Bonanza and Ironside. True success, however, was just around the corner.David Cassidy wearing white sweater is looking at side - 1972ABC Television Network., Wikimedia Commons

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10. He Was A Partridge By Birth

Cassidy landed the role of Keith Partridge in the musical TV series, The Partridge Family. No one could have anticipated how wildly successful the series would become. Thankfully, Cassidy had a hand to hold throughout the entire series as he starred alongside his real-life stepmother, Shirley Jones. Once again, however, the spotlight found Cassidy—and Cassidy alone.David Cassidy with Partridge Family First Cast -1970ABC Television, Wikimedia Commons

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11. He Made Peanuts

Cassidy's agent, Ruth Aarons, made a shocking discovery. Her breakout star of a client had been underage when he signed his contract. As the biggest star on the show and the main draw for audiences, Aarons argued that Cassidy was overworked and underpaid. But better contract terms didn’t necessarily equate to a better life.Photo of television actors: David Cassidy, Susan Dey, Suzanne Crough - 1972ABC Television Network., Wikimedia Commons

12. He Had The Right Stuff

The Partridge Family became a massive hit show, turning Cassidy into a household name all over the world. With his superior singing, swoon-worthy looks and Farrah Fawcett hair, Cassidy found himself center stage. The studio quickly made him the lead singer and wanted to cash in on his seemingly limitless potential. Even if some people had to get hurt.David Cassidy singing on stage in Hamburg - 1973Heinrich Klaffs, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

13. His Fans Were Madly In Love

As Cassidy's face and voice entered millions of screens across the world, something powerful happened. Audiences, particularly the show’s young female viewers, fell madly in love with the teen sensation. But, from the studio lot, Cassidy had no way of knowing just how madly in love with him his fans truly were. He would find out the hard way.David Cassidy is performing on stage - 1975Nationaal Archief, Wikimedia Commons

14. He Was Fiery Famous

Having grown up as the child of stars, fame was nothing new to Cassidy. He had seen fans flock to his parents like moths to a flame his whole life. Despite growing up around fame and notoriety, he admitted to feeling "stifled". He had no way of knowing the fame firestorm that he had started. Some of those moths were going to burn.

David Cassidy is standing outside next to a plane with his name on it - 1972Nationaal Archief, Wikimedia Commons

15. He Beared It All

In an attempt to change his “teen idol” image, Cassidy did something totally unexpected. In May of 1972, he appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone—without any clothes. Thankfully, the photo cropped out just above his "partridge family" but the racy cover had the opposite effect that he had intended. It kicked his fame into hyperdrive.David Cassidy wearing black suit is looking at side and smiling - 1971Mike Meadows, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

16. He Smoked Like A Chimney

Cassidy wasn’t terribly fond of his ever-growing star but he tried to put his platform to good use. He figured he could encourage his adoring fans to pursue healthy habits and lifestyles. He appeared in an anti-smoking ad campaign despite, himself, being a smoker. But he had good reasons for singling out about this particularly lethal habit.David Cassidy wearing jacket and playing on guitar outside - 1972Nationaal Archief, Wikimedia Commons

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17. His Father Went Up In Smoke

Cassidy's father had perished tragically in a smoking related accident. He had fallen asleep one night with a smoke in his hand. The lit stub fell onto the couch and ignited an inferno. Authorities found what was left of him sprawled out on the floor in front of the door the following morning. The devastating event impacted Cassidy for life.Jack Cassidy wearing white shirt is smiling at camera - 1973ABC Television, Wikimedia Commons

18. He Went Solo

With his stardom reaching stratospheric levels, the studio saw an opportunity to cash in. They encouraged Cassidy to ditch his Partridge Family co-stars and strike out on his own with solo albums and worldwide concert tours. The frenzy that ensued rocked entire nations and turned his fans into fanatics with a fatal zeal for Cassidy.David Cassidy performing live on stage on a black background - 1973Heinrich Klaffs, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

19. He Was The Biggest In The World

The success of Cassidy's debut solo albums, Cherish and Rock Me Baby, proved that he was the only Partridge family member that audiences really cared about. Overnight, he became the highest earning entertainer in the world. The power behind his record sales and sold-out concerts? A rabid fan club with a manic obsession.

Portrait of David Cassidy - smiling and looking at camera - 1973Hans Peters / Anefo, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

20. He Was Bigger Than The Beatles

Powered by his panty-dropping good looks and smooth vocals, Cassidy's fan club became bigger than any other in the world. At the height of his fame, his fan club was even bigger than those of legends like The Beatles and Elvis Presley. His fans’ obsession with him was positively out of this world. You might say he was the biggest star in the night sky.Chuck Berry FactsFlickr, Roger

21. His Fans Named A Star After Him

Who needs a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame when they could have a real star? In 1983, Cassidy's fan club did something for him that no other fan club had ever done. They turned him into an actual star. Perhaps not literally, but, at least, metaphorically. They named a real star in the night sky after him in the International Star Registry. 

David Cassidy is performing live on stage - 1975Nationaal Archief,, Wikimedia Commons

22. He Couldn’t Eat In Peace

Cassidy's fans' devotion to him was truly touching—too literally, apparently. Even though he appreciated their overwhelming love and support, Cassidy began complaining that it had become impossible for him to go anywhere without mobs of fans swarming him. Even in the privacy of his own home, Cassidy couldn't escape the spectre of his fame.David Cassidy is standing outside next to a plane with his name on it - 1972Nationaal Archief, Wikimedia Commons

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23. He Was On Cereal Boxes

In 1972, Cassidy asked his housekeeper to run to the store and pick up cereal for breakfast (seeing as though he couldn't set foot outside without sparking a veritable stampede of teenage girls). When his housekeeper returned with a box cereal bearing his likeness, however, he knew his fame had reached terrifying new heights: "I can't even eat breakfast without seeing my face".David Cassidy wearing flower shirt and brown  jacket is looking at camera and smiling - 1972Allan warren, Wikimedia Commons

24. He Sparked A Mania

Despite his reservations about the level of fame and obsession surrounding him, Cassidy continued performing at sold-out concerts all over the world. With every performance, however, his fans' devotion deepened. The media took to calling this phenomenon "Cassidymania". For one poor soul, it turned out to be a fatal fad.David Cassidy wearing denim jacket is looking at camera - 1972ABC Television Network., Wikimedia Commons

25. He Went Down Under

Cassidy sold-out stadiums from Texas to Japan and back again. But not every country could handle the mass hysteria that was Cassidymania. When the teen idol arrived in Australia in 1974 for a concert at Melbourne Cricket Ground, the audience of over 30,000 people nearly broke out into a riot. Cassidy was lucky to escape in one piece.David Cassidy wearing white shirt and guitar is looking at front and smiling - 1970ABC Television Network., Wikimedia Commons

26. He Begged Everyone To Stop

As soon as Cassidy appeared on stage, all mayhem broke loose within the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Tens of thousands of people began to rush towards the stage, crushing Cassidy’s youngest and most vulnerable fans. In a desperate plea to save their lives, he begged, “I love you but I want you to do me a favor. Just push back so no one gets hurt. If you don’t I’ll have to go off”.

Portrait of David Cassidy with long hair looking at camera - 1974Allan warren, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

27. He Had To Flee The Scene

Unfortunately, news reports from the following day relayed a harrowing scene in which “250 youngsters fainted” and one poor girl broke her arm. Following the concert, even Cassidy found himself in harm’s way. While trying to speed away to safety from the out-of-control crowd or teens and tweens, Cassidy’s driver smashed into an iron fence. Thankfully, the pop star was ok.David Cassidy wearing black suit is performing on stage - 1972Heinrich Klaffs , Flickr

28. He Was A Public Health Hazard

Cassidymania resulted in more than just physical injuries. After the carnage at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, newspapers ran with headlines calling the teen idol a health hazard. Concerned parents believed that the authorities should have deported Cassidy to prevent further harm to the public. Another Cassidy concert would prove those parents right.Screenshot: David Cassidy is seating on the sofa - from David Cassidy - The Last Session (2018)Left-Right, David Cassidy - The Last Session (2018)

29. His Final Concert Performance Was Deadly

The calls to deport Cassidy from Australia to prevent the mania that he caused might have been extreme but they were well-founded. Unfortunately, Cassidy’s British fans would learn this the hard way—and so would Cassidy. At the final concert performance of his infamous 1974 world tour, Cassidymania turned bloody and deadly.David Cassidy wearing black leather jacket - 1990Vicki L. Miller, Shutterstock

30. He Fans Rushed The Stage

At London's White City Stadium, Cassidy gave a concert performance that would change his life forever. Just like in Australia, tens of thousands of his screaming, hysterical fans began rushing towards the stage. This time, however, not everyone would make it out alive. The chaotic rush left nearly 800 people injured—some more so than others.Screenshot: David Cassidy in blue shirt is performing outside - from David Cassidy - The Last Session (2018)Left/Right, David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)

31. His Stardom Crushed A Fan

30 people from Cassidy’s White City Stadium concert performance ended up in the hospital with various injuries. One girl, however, never made it out. Crushed beneath the weight of Cassidymania, 14-year-old Bernadette Whelan slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness. Four days later, she succumbed to her injuries.Screenshot: David Cassidy is performing live at stage - from David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)Left/Right, David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)

32. He Didn’t Attend The Funeral

In the wake of Whelan's tragic demise at his concert, Cassidy found himself compelled to make sense of the horrifying incident. In a gesture of profound respect for the grieving family, and to shield the memory of the young girl from the insatiable glare of the media, Cassidy resolved not to attend Whelan’s funeral despite his own grief.Screenshot: David Cassidy is sleeping on the seat - from David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018).Left/Right, David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)

33. He Sent His Deepest Regrets

Despite not attending in person, Cassidy reached out to Whelan's grieving parents. With a voice trembling with sorrow, Cassidy offered a poignant tribute to his fallen fan in the form of fragrant flowers. Racked with guilt over the incident and haunted by visions of the crowds crushing his fans, Cassidy vowed that he would never forget that day.Screenshot: David Cassidy wearing glasses is walking outside - from David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018).Left/Right, David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)

34. He Quit Fame

Following the unspeakably tragic events of his 1974 tour, Cassidy realized that his fame had reached dangerous (and evidently deadly) levels. He decided that it was time for him to step back from the spotlight. In a shocking move, he announced that he would quit touring. But that wasn't the craziest part.

Then he really stunned his fans when he added that he would be leaving The Partridge Family.

Screenshot: David Cassidy is seating on the sofa and talking - from David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018).Left/Right, David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)

35. He Was Still Too Famous

For a while, it seemed like David Cassidy was going to settle down and try to find a normal life. He met the actress Kay Lenz and married her in 1977. However, even in his early quasi-retirement, his starpower was still too much for some. “When we eloped it was on the national news,” Lenz recalled. Not necessarily good news.

Kay Lenz in Trailer for Trailer for

36. His Fans Were Dangerously Jealous

As the wife of everyone’s favorite teen idol, Lenz expected some degree of hatred. All of Cassidy’s rabid fans either wanted to be her—or to get rid of her. “All of a sudden I was getting mail from women telling me that they had three of his children,” Lenz recalled. The jealousy was so intense that she had to hire the celebrity bodyguard Tommy Peacock.Fans holding a notebooks in hands with David Cassidy portrait on it.Joe Wolf, Flickr

37. His Stardom Ruined His Marriage

In the end, a lasting romance was not in the cards for Cassidy and his bride. Though there were many rumors that his substance problems had attributed to the breakup, Lenz later said her own unhappiness led to the breakdown of the marriage. But Cassidy hadn’t given up love quite yet.

David Cassidy wearing blue denim shirt and black jacket is looking and smiling at TV - 1991Bart Sherkow, Shutterstock

38. He Ran Out Of Money

Cassidy stepped back from the spotlight and focused largely on songwriting. But, by 1980, he announced that he had somehow run out of money. Cautiously, he stepped back into the spotlight and began touring again. This time, thankfully, no fans were harmed in the making of his comeback. The same, however, could not be said for Cassidy himself.David Cassidy wearing black shirt is looking at camera and smiling - 2009Jaguar PS, Shutterstock

39. He Tried To Make A Comeback

Cassidy attempted to make a comeback in the early 1980s, but, by then, his star had faded. It was both a blessing and a curse. He tried touring with a pre-Broadway production but critics hated his performance so much that the show’s producers had no choice but to replace him. He might have missed the days of his adoring fans.Susan Dey and David Cassidy from the Partridge Family - 1990Vicki L. Miller, Shutterstock

40. He Bet On The Wrong Horse

Even Cassidy's love life was falling apart around him. Back at the height of his fame in 1974, he had met a horse breeder named Meryl Tanz. A decade later, the two decided to play their odds at marriage. But Cassidy had clearly bet on the wrong horse. Less than four years later, their marriage fell apart. This time, he had no one to blame but himself.Screenshot: David Cassidy wearing pink shirt is singing - from David Cassidy - The Last Session (2018).Left/Right, David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)

41. He Returned To The Top

Failed marriages and failed comebacks became a running theme for Cassidy. That is, until 1990. The aged former teen idol made a daring comeback on the music charts with hits like "Lyin' to Myself" and blockbuster films like Spirit of '76. However, his days in the dark when his star hadn’t been shining had taken their toll.Screenshot: David Cassidy wearing white suit and glasses is talking - from David Cassidy - The Last Session (2018).Left/Right, David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)

42. He Turned To The Bottle

In his lowest years, Cassidy had turned to boozing to ease his loneliness. Fortunately, it seemed that he had gotten over his addiction when, throughout the 1990s and 2000s, he enjoyed an unexpected resurgence. He even got over his trauma surrounding touring and returned to concert performances. It was obvious, however, that he had lost his edge.Screenshot: David Cassidy is performing live - from David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)Left/Right, David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)

43. He Relapsed Into Bad Habits

Cassidy clearly struggled to deal with the small resurgence of his fame. Between 2010 and 2015, he relapsed into his darker habits. In a series of embarrassing incidents, the former teen idol received several DUIs and went in and out of rehab, even spending time behind bars. It seemed that he couldn’t find happiness, with or without fame.Screenshot: David Cassidy is performing live on orange background - from David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)Left/Right, David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)

44. He Forgot His Lyrics

At a 2017 concert performance in Agoura Hills, California, Cassidy stunned audiences—for all of the wrong reasons. The seasoned performer and entertainer began stumbling over lyrics to songs that he had performed for decades. Then, to everyone's amazement, the former teen idol fell off the stage. He had hit a new low.David Cassidy with replica of the Partridge Family bus - 1993mark reinstein, Shutterstock

45. He Was Losing His Mind

Cassidy excused his Agoura Hills performance by claiming that he was not well. He made the devastating revelation that he was suffering from dementia and claimed that he had a family history of the disease. "I was in denial,” he confessed, “but a part of me always knew this was coming". Apparently, he forgot to tell the truth.Screenshot: David Cassidy wearing black jacket is looking at side and talking - from David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)Left/Right, David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)

46. He Collapsed Without Explanation

At a studio recording later that same year, Cassidy suddenly collapsed and ended up in the hospital once again. In an interview a few days later, Cassidy claimed that his doctors had diagnosed him with liver disease and that he had been mere moments away from drawing his last breaths. But, to observant fans, something didn't add up.Screenshot: David Cassidy wearing red jacket is looking at front - from David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)Left/Right, David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)

47. He Admitted To Lying

In the interview following his hospitalization, Cassidy made another shocking revelation. The star revealed just how far he had fallen. He confessed to having lied about suffering with dementia and admitted that he was still struggling with his drinking problem. "You know, I did it to myself, man,” he lamented. “I did it to myself to cover up the sadness and the emptiness".David Cassidy wearing sunglasses is looking at side and talking - from David Cassidy - The Last Session (2018)Left/Right, David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)

48. He Had Run Out Of Time

The revelation came as a shock to all of Cassidy's friends and family. He had told them that his days of boozing and wild driving were behind him. Little did any of them know, however, how powerful his addiction really was. Sadly, by the time that it seemed like Cassidy was willing to overcome his feelings of emptiness and drop the bottle for good, it was already too late.Screenshot: David Cassidy is looking at front and talking - from David Cassidy - The Last Session (2018)Left/Right, David Cassidy: The Last Session (2018)

49. He Needed A Liver To Live

In late 2017, Cassidy's addiction landed him in the hospital once again. Doctors put him into a medically induced coma and hoped that they could get a liver transplant in time to save his life. But the stars didn't align. On November 21, 2017, Cassidy's star finally stopped shining and the world seemed a little less bright.

David Cassidy wearing white shirt is looking at side on black background - 2015Debby Wong, Shutterstock

50. He Became Stardust

The 67-year old former teen idol passed away full of regrets. His daughter Katie Cassidy, said that his last words had been, "So much wasted time". In the end, fame and fortune had destroyed Cassidy's life. He didn't want it to ruin his afterlife as well. 

In keeping with his wishes, his family didn't hold a memorial service, cremated his remains, and scattered his ashes to the wind so that one day, they might become stardust again.David Cassidy with white shirt and black suit is looking at side and smiling - 2004Joe Seer, Shutterstock


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