Jack Cassidy

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Jack Cassidy
Jack Cassidy circa 1960s.JPG
Cassidy, c. 1967
John Joseph Edward Cassidy

(1927-03-05)March 5, 1927
DiedDecember 12, 1976(1976-12-12) (aged 49)
Cause of deathHouse fire[1]
OccupationActor, singer
Years active1943–1976
Children4; including David, Shaun, Patrick Cassidy
RelativesKatie Cassidy (granddaughter)
AwardsTony Award (1964, She Loves Me)

John Joseph Edward Cassidy (March 5, 1927 – December 12, 1976) was an American actor and singer. He was a Tony Award recipient and father of teen idols David Cassidy and Shaun Cassidy.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Richmond Hill, Queens, New York, the son of Charlotte (née Koehler) and William Cassidy. His father, an engineer at the Long Island Rail Road, was of Irish descent and his mother was of German ancestry.[2]


Cassidy achieved success as a musical performer on Broadway.[3] He appeared in Alive and Kicking, Wish You Were Here, Shangri-La, Maggie Flynn, Fade Out – Fade In, It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman, and She Loves Me, for which he won a Tony Award. He also received Emmy Award nominations for his television performances in He & She and The Andersonville Trial.

On television, he became a frequent guest star, appearing in such programs as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Gunsmoke, Bewitched, Get Smart, That Girl, Hawaii Five-O, Cannon, Match Game and McCloud and three times as a murderer on Columbo, in the episodes "Murder By the Book" (directed by not yet famous Steven Spielberg, with teleplay by a young Steven Bochco), "Publish or Perish" (1974) and "Now You See Him..." (1976).

He co-starred with Ronnie Schell in a television revival of Hellzapoppin'. Cassidy also co-starred as a despicable informer in the movie The Eiger Sanction with Clint Eastwood and provided the voice of Bob Cratchit for the pioneering animated television special Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol.

His frequent professional persona was that of an urbane, super-confident egotist with a dramatic flair, much in the manner of Broadway actor Frank Fay. Cassidy perfected this character to such an extent that he was cast as John Barrymore in the feature film W.C. Fields and Me.

The role of the vain, shallow, buffoon-like newsman Ted Baxter on TV's The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–1977) was reportedly written with Cassidy in mind.[4] Although Cassidy had played a similar buffoonish character in the 1967–1968 sitcom He & She, he turned down the role, feeling that it was not right for him; the part went to Ted Knight. Cassidy later appeared as a guest star in a 1971 episode[5] as Ted's highly competitive and equally egotistical brother Hal.

Personal life[edit]

Marriages and children[edit]

A programme featuring Cassidy and Jones at the White House in 1957

Cassidy was married twice. His first marriage in 1946 was to actress Evelyn Ward. Together they had a son, David, who later became a teen idol. They divorced in 1956 and in the same year Cassidy married singer and actress Shirley Jones. Cassidy and Jones had three sons, Shaun, Patrick, and Ryan. Cassidy's eldest son David later starred with Jones in the musical sitcom The Partridge Family. Son Shaun also became a teen idol in the late 70's, starring in "The Hardy Boys" series, and producing four Top 40 records. Jones and Cassidy divorced in 1974.[6]

Mental health[edit]

In his 1994 autobiography, C'Mon, Get Happy, Cassidy's eldest son David wrote that he became increasingly concerned about his father in the last years of his life. The elder Cassidy suffered from bipolar disorder and was an alcoholic who was displaying increasingly erratic behavior. In 1974, his neighbors were shocked to see him watering his front lawn naked in the middle of the afternoon.[7] Cassidy's second wife, Shirley Jones, described a similar incident when she found him sitting naked in a corner, reading a book. Jones said to him that they had to get ready to do a show, and he calmly looked up and said, "I know now that I'm Christ".[8] In December 1974, Cassidy was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility for 48 hours.[9] At that time, Jones found out that he had been previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder.[10]


David Cassidy claimed that his father was bisexual, citing attributed personal accounts and reports, both anecdotal and published, of his father's same-sex affairs, a fact neither he nor his siblings discovered until after his death.[11] In her 2013 memoir, Shirley Jones confirms that Cassidy had many same-sex affairs, including one with Cole Porter.[12]


By 1976, Cassidy was living alone in a penthouse apartment in West Hollywood.

According to ex-wife Shirley Jones, Cassidy asked her over for drinks on December 11, 1976, but she declined. He then invited actress and singer Donna Theodore out for a date. According to Theodore in a 1999 interview, which was featured in the Mysteries and Scandals episode on Cassidy, she began noticing strange mood swings in Cassidy, notably one incident in which he ran all over the nightclub they were visiting. Feeling uncomfortable, she asked him to take her back to her house, which he did. After eating dinner alone at a restaurant, Cassidy returned to his apartment alone, by which time he was drunk, as he had consumed alcohol at various bars across West Hollywood that evening. In the early morning hours of December 12, Cassidy lit a cigarette and fell asleep on his Naugahyde couch.[13] He then dropped the cigarette, which ignited the couch. The flames quickly spread throughout the apartment and the building.[6] At 6:15 a.m., the blaze was discovered by Deputy Sheriff John DiMatteo, who evacuated the building and entered Cassidy's apartment. A charred corpse was found in the doorway of the apartment. As Cassidy's car was missing,[2] his family hoped that he had traveled to Palm Springs, as he had apparently intended to do the following day. But the corpse was soon identified[14] as Cassidy's by dental records and a signet ring that he wore, bearing the Cassidy family crest.[2][15] The car had been borrowed by a friend, who later returned it. Cassidy's remains were cremated and scattered on the Pacific Ocean.[16]


A prolific Broadway performer, Cassidy was nominated for four Tony Awards, and won the 1964 Tony Award for best featured actor in a musical for his role in She Loves Me.

He was nominated for two Emmy Awards: in 1968 for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy, for He & She, and 1971 for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for the film The Andersonville Trial (1970).

Cassidy was approved for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005, and fundraising efforts are currently underway to fund the dedication ceremony. As of July 2018, he is not listed in their on-line database.


Source: Playbill Vault [3]







Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy albums

Guest appearances


  1. ^ "Jack Cassidy, Actor, Dies at 49 In Fire at Los Angeles Apartment". The New York Times. December 13, 1976. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c "Actor Jack Cassidy Dies In Blaze". Beaver County Times. December 13, 1976. pp. B-16.
  3. ^ a b "Jack Cassidy Broadway Credits". Playbill. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  4. ^ Cassidy, David; Deffaa, Chip (1994). C'mon, Get Happy ... Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus. New York: Warner Books. p. 50. ISBN 0-446-39531-5.
  5. ^ "Cover Boy".
  6. ^ a b Donnelley, Paul (2003). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Music Sales Group. p. 144. ISBN 0-711-99512-5.
  7. ^ Cassidy, David; Deffaa, Chip (1994). C'Mon, Get Happy... Warner Books. p. 214. ISBN 0-446-39531-5.
  8. ^ Jones, Shirley; Ingels, Marty; Herskowitz, Mickey (1990). Shirley & Marty: An Unlikely Love Story. New York: William Morrow & Company. p. 49. ISBN 0-688-08457-5.
  9. ^ Cassidy 1994 pp. 204-205
  10. ^ Jones 1990 p. 52
  11. ^ McGlone, Jackie (March 24, 2007). "Still a daydreamer". The Scotsman. Retrieved July 6, 2008.
  12. ^ Jones, Shirley (2013). Shirley Jones: A Memoir. New York: Gallery Books. p. 96. ISBN 978-1-4767-2595-6.
  13. ^ Jones, Shirley (2013). Shirley Jones: A Memoir. Simon and Schuster. pp. 229–230. ISBN 1-476-72595-0.
  14. ^ Karanikas Harvey, Diana; Harvey, Jackson (1996). Dead Before Their Time. MetroBooks. p. 104. ISBN 1-567-99284-6.
  15. ^ Jones 2013 p.229
  16. ^ Petrucelli, Alan W. (2009). Morbid Curiosity: The Disturbing Demises of the Famous and Infamous. Perigee Trade. pp. 38–39. ISBN 0-399-53527-6.
  17. ^ a b Clarke, David (May 12, 2014). "BWW CD Reviews: Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy's MARRIAGE TYPE LOVE is Sweet Nostalgia". BroadwayWorld.com.

External links[edit]