Actor and vocalist who became a teen idol thanks to The Partridge Family but always disliked his superstar status
” Girls are following me around- they’re ruining my whole life !” cried Keith Partridge in a fraught moment on the 1970 s sitcom The Partridge Family. Keith, played by David Cassidy, was the show’s heartthrob, and for its four-year operated Cassidy’s offscreen life mirrored his. Teenage girls didn’t simply follow him around- they spirited themselves into hotels, camped in the air-conditioning unit of his house and howled at the sight of him. At his peak he received 25,000 letters a week and his fan club was said to be the biggest in the music business.
Cassidy, who has died aged 67 after several years of living with dementia, was a new various kinds of teen idol. While the Monkees had been groundbreakers in using television as a route to adolescent hearts, Cassidy’s weekly appearances were just one strand of an unprecedented marketing plan. Recognising that his run at the top would be brief, the Tv studio ensured that every possible money stream was exploited: 12 -hour filming days were followed by night-time recording conferences- both for his own albums and those released under the Partridge Family name- and weekends were spent playing concerts.
If there was a surface where his photo could seem, it did- on everything from lunchboxes and plastic guitars to pillowcases and attires. The merchandising earned Cassidy’s handlers about $500 m- of which, he claimed in a lawsuit in 2011, he received only $5,000– and turned the young musician into a worldwide star.
Most teen idols eventually find reputation a grind, but Cassidy resented it nearly from the start. His aim was to be recognised as a serious actor, but that was scuppered by playing cute Keith, the eldest of five sing siblings.” I was pigeonholed as a teen idol[ and] there’s no credibility ,” he said in the 80 s.” I paid a tremendous personal cost – it’s a very empty, isolated, lonely existence .”
He often reminisced bitterly about the turning his career had taken: just before The Partridge Family, he had believed he was on his route to professional acclaim after winning one-off roles in a handful of US TV dramas. But while he proved competent , nothing could distract attention from his fine-boned prettiness. Even before The Partridge Family launched in 1970, the teen magazines were circling, with introductory articles such as David& Those Special Kisses. Gloria Stavers, editor of the top-selling 16 magazine, said:” I’d been waiting for[ someone like] him for … years .” Cassidy, for his part, answered:” I’ll feel really good when it’s over .”
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