The Partridge Family

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The Partridge Family
The Partridge Family.jpg
GenreMusical sitcom
Created byBernard Slade
StarringShirley Jones
David Cassidy
Susan Dey
Danny Bonaduce
Suzanne Crough
Jeremy Gelbwaks
Dave Madden
Brian Forster
Theme music composerDiane Hilderbrand
Danny Janssen
Wes Farrell
Opening theme"When We're Singin'" (1970–71)
"C'mon, Get Happy" (1971–74)
Composer(s)George Duning
Benny Golson
Warren Barker
Hugo Montenegro
Shorty Rogers
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes96 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Bob Claver
Producer(s)William Bickley
Paul Junger Witt
Dale McRaven
Larry Rosen
Mel Swope
CinematographyFred Jackman, Jr.
Irving Lippman
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time25 minutes
Production company(s)Screen Gems Television
DistributorColumbia Pictures Television
DFS Program Exchange (1984–87)
The Program Exchange (1987–89)
Columbia TriStar Television (1996–2002)
Sony Pictures Television (2002–present)
Original networkABC
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 25, 1970 (1970-09-25) –
March 23, 1974 (1974-03-23)
Related showsGetting Together
Goober and the Ghost Chasers
Partridge Family 2200 A.D.

The Partridge Family is an American musical sitcom starring Shirley Jones and featuring David Cassidy. Jones plays a widowed mother, and Cassidy plays the oldest of her five children, in a family who embarks on a music career. It ran from September 25, 1970, until March 23, 1974, on the ABC network as part of a Friday-night lineup, and had subsequent runs in syndication. The family was loosely based on the real-life musical family the Cowsills, a popular band in the late 1960s and early 1970s.


The Partridge Family, season 1. L-R: Shirley Jones, Jeremy Gelbwaks, Suzanne Crough, Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce and David Cassidy

In the pilot episode, a group of musical siblings in the fictitious city of San Pueblo, California (said to be "40 miles from Napa County" in episode 24, "A Partridge By Any Other Name") convinces their widowed mother, bank teller Shirley Partridge, to help them out by singing as they record a pop song in their garage. Through the efforts of precocious 10-year-old Danny they find a manager, Reuben Kincaid, who helps make the song a Top 40 hit. After more persuading, Shirley agrees that the family can go on tour. They acquire an old school bus, a 1957 Chevrolet[1] Series 6800 Superior, for touring, paint it with Mondrian-inspired patterns, and head to Las Vegas, Nevada for their first live gig at Caesars Palace.

Subsequent episodes usually feature the band performing in various venues or in their garage. The shows often contrast suburban life with the adventures of a show-business family on the road. After the first season, more of the show's action takes place in the family's hometown than on tour.


The Partridge Family was created for television by Bernard Slade, and the series' executive producer was Bob Claver. The show was inspired by and loosely based on the Cowsills,[2]:51–52 a family pop music group that was famous in the late 1960s. In the show's early development, the Cowsill children were considered by the producers, but because the Cowsills were not trained actors and were too old for the roles as scripted, Slade and Claver abandoned that idea.[3] Shirley Jones had already been signed as mother Shirley Partridge and star of the show. Surviving members of the Cowsill family have more recently suggested that in fact they were the leading contenders for the child roles, but the deal was wrecked because their tyrannical father insisted that his own wife should play the mother role, despite the producers' insistence that Jones's casting in the role of Mrs Partridge was not negotiable.

The pilot was filmed in December 1969. This unaired pilot differs from the pilot that was broadcast in 1970. In the unaired pilot, Shirley's name is Connie and she has a boyfriend played by Jones's real-life husband at the time, Jack Cassidy, father of David Cassidy. Laurie mentions her late father once getting drunk at a Christmas party. The family has a different address and live in Ohio.[4]

The show proved popular, but the fame took its toll on several, if not most, of the starring cast, particularly David Cassidy. In the midst of his rise to fame, Cassidy soon felt stifled by the show and trapped by the mass hysteria surrounding his every move.[2]:92–95 In May 1972, he appeared nude on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in a cropped Annie Leibovitz photo. He used the article to get away from his squeaky clean image.[2]:167 The article mentioned that Cassidy was riding around New York in the back of a car "stoned and drunk."[5]

Shortly after the series ended, scriptwriter Roberta Tatum launched a lawsuit against Screen Gems concerning the creation of the show. Tatum claimed that she had submitted a similar premise to Screen Gems prior to 1970 called Baker's Half-Dozen. The matter was resolved out of court, with Tatum receiving a reported $150,000 from Screen Gems.[6]

The Partridge Family, season 1

Cast and characters[edit]

On the show's soundtrack and records, none of the actors actually played the indicated instruments, and only Jones and primarily Cassidy sang. The actors pretended while listening to recordings by session musicians who provided the real vocal and instrumental music attributed to the Partridge Family.

Notable guest stars[edit]

During the show's four-season run, many actors made guest appearances. Some of them were well known at the time, such as Morey Amsterdam, John Astin, Carl Ballantine, John Banner, Edgar Buchanan, George Chakiris, Dick Clark (who later hosted The Other Half from 2001 to 2003 with Danny Bonaduce), Jackie Coogan, Howard Cosell, Jodie Foster, Bernard Fox, Ned Glass, James Gregory, Margaret Hamilton, Pat Harrington Jr., Arte Johnson, Harvey Lembeck, Art Metrano, Mary Ann Mobley, Harry Morgan, Slim Pickens, Richard Pryor, Barbara Rhoades, William Schallert, Nita Talbot, Larry Wilcox, Dick Wilson, and William Windom. Others would later become famous in other roles, such as Meredith Baxter, Richard Bull, Bert Convy, Farrah Fawcett, Norman Fell, Anthony Geary, Louis Gossett Jr., Harold Gould, Jackie Earle Haley, Mark Hamill, Season Hubley, Ann Jillian, Gordon Jump, Cheryl Ladd, Michael Lembeck, William Lucking, Stuart Margolin, Richard Mulligan, Michael Ontkean, Noam Pitlik, Annette O'Toole, Charlotte Rae, Rob Reiner, Jack Riley, Jaclyn Smith, Vic Tayback, Nancy Walker, and Frank Welker.

The Partridge Family, season 3

Country singer Johnny Cash made an uncredited cameo appearance in the pilot episode. Ray Bolger played Shirley's father in three episodes, and Rosemary DeCamp played Shirley's mother in four episodes. Then-Governor Ronald Reagan's daughter, Maureen Reagan, was also featured in one episode. Future Charlie's Angels stars Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett and Cheryl Ladd all made guest appearances on separate episodes.

Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench appeared in a cameo role as a pool waiter in a third-season episode.

Bobby Sherman appeared in the last episode of the first season as struggling songwriter Bobby Conway. This episode led into a short-lived spinoff series on ABC, Getting Together, starring Sherman and Wes Stern as Conway's business partner Lionel Poindexter.


Shirley Jones and Ricky Segall, season 4


At the end of the first season, Jeremy Gelbwaks' family moved out of the Los Angeles area, and the part of Chris was recast with actor Brian Forster. According to David Cassidy, Gelbwaks "had a personality conflict with every person in the cast and the producers" and especially did not get along with Cassidy or Bonaduce.[2]:87 A dog named Simone was featured in the first season, but it was phased out during the second season. At the beginning of the fourth season, four-year-old neighbor Ricky Stevens (Ricky Segall) was featured and would sing a children's song during each episode, but the character was dropped mid-season.


Music recorded for the pilot episode was produced by Monkees arranger Shorty Rogers. Songs for the ongoing series were recorded by music producer Wes Farrell. Chip Douglas was first offered the job of producing the music, but turned down the assignment.

The Partridge Family songs heard in the show, and on the several Partridge Family singles and albums, were not performed as seen on-screen. Cassidy sang lead on most of the records, and Jones can be heard on a few. But the other voices and all the instruments were recorded by session musicians.

The Partridge Family's instrumental sound was provided by musicians informally known as The Wrecking Crew, who performed many of the pop hits of the day that were attributed to other performers. The actors pretended to play their instruments.

None of the actors sang background; they lip-synched to recorded singing by the Ron Hicklin Singers, composed of brothers John and Tom Bahler, Jackie Ward (who as Robin Ward had a #14 hit "Wonderful Summer" on Dot Records in 1963 [7]), and Ron Hicklin.

Cassidy was originally to lip sync to dubbed vocals with the rest of the cast, but convinced Farrell that he could sing and was allowed to join the studio ensemble as the lead singer.[2]:56–60 He and Jones were the only two of the show's actors who sang on the recordings.

The Partridge Family theme song, written by Wes Farrell and Diane Hildebrand and produced by Rogers, was shown over opening credits. More than one song was used as the theme song. Season 1 episodes feature the song "When We're Singin'", which was replaced in subsequent seasons with "C'mon Get Happy".

"Five of us, and Mom working all day,
we knew we could help her if our music would pay,
Danny got Reuben to sell our song, and it really
came together when Mom sang along..." (from "When We're Singin'")

Later, under Farrell's direction, the new version had new lyrics by Danny Janssen sung to the "When We're Singin'" tune. With the new chorus finalized, "C'mon Get Happy" showcased the new verse:

"We had a dream, we'd go travelin' together,
We'd spread a little lovin' then we'd keep movin' on.
Somethin' always happens whenever we're together
We get a happy feelin' when we're singing a song..." (from "C'Mon Get Happy")

Broadcast history[edit]

For its final season, ABC moved the show from its 8:30 p.m. Friday night slot (where it rated first in its slot) to Saturday at 8:00 p.m. (opposite CBS' top-rated All in the Family, against which it lost more than half of its audience from the previous season). In the UK, the first three episodes were broadcast in a Friday children's slot of 17:20, starting on 17/09/1971. From 02/10/1971, the programme moved to Saturdays at 17:10, and eight episodes were shown at this time. A further episode was shown on New Year's Eve, after which the BBC dropped the programme. After David Cassidy succeeded with UK Top 30 chart hits the following year, the show was picked up by independent commercial television. On London Weekend Television, it was shown at Saturday lunchtimes.[8] After the show's popularity began to decline in the US, it began to increase in the UK. This new popularity in the UK gave the Partridge Family five UK Top 20 Hits, some of which were less popular in the US.

After 96 episodes and eight Partridge Family albums, ABC canceled the show.


Season Time slot (ET) Rank Estimated audience
1970–71 Fridays 8:30 p.m. #26 19.8 rating, 11,899,800
1971–72 Fridays 8:30 p.m. #16 22.4 rating, 14,034,600
1972–73 Fridays 8:30 p.m. #19 20.3 rating, 13,348,800
1973–74 Saturdays 8:00 p.m. #78[9] 9.8 rating[10], 6,487,600 [11]


Nickelodeon featured a run of The Partridge Family from 1993 to 1994 as part of its Nick at Nite lineup. The network used interviews and commercials featuring cast members, and created a new version of the bus for promotion. The show also aired at various times on USA Network, Fox Family, Ion Television, and Hallmark Channel. As of January 2011, it airs on Antenna TV. FETV also started airing The Partridge Family in December 2017.

The cast was reunited in 1977 on the special Thanksgiving Reunion with The Partridge Family and My Three Sons. They reunited again in the 1990s on The Arsenio Hall Show and The Danny Bonaduce Show and were featured on E! True Hollywood Story, Biography and VH1's Behind the Music.

When the digital subchannel Antenna TV premiered in January 2011, The Partridge Family became one of its offerings through the network's distribution agreement with Sony Pictures Television (parent company and successor of series producer Screen Gems).[12][13][14][15]


Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Result
1971 Grammy Awards Best New Artist[16] Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best TV Show – Musical/Comedy Nominated
1972 Best TV Show – Musical/Comedy Nominated
2003 TV Land Awards Quintessential Non-Traditional Family Nominated
Hippest Fashion Plate – Male to David Cassidy Won
2004 Favorite Teen Dream – Female to Susan Dey Won
Irreplaceable Replacement for Brian Forster replacing Jeremy Gelbwaks Nominated
2006 Favorite Singing Siblings Nominated
The Most Irreplaceable Replacement for Brian Forster replacing Jeremy Gelbwaks Nominated
2007 Most Beautiful Braces – Susan Dey Nominated



The Partridge Family was produced for ABC by Screen Gems. The company promoted the show by releasing a series of albums featuring the family band, though David Cassidy and Shirley Jones, who sang background, were the only cast members who were actually featured on the recordings.[2]:56–60

As the show and other associated merchandising soared, Cassidy became a teen idol.[2]:68–73 The producers signed Cassidy as a solo act as well. Cassidy began touring with his own group of musicians, performing Partridge songs, as well as hits from his own albums, to thousands of screaming teenagers in major stadiums across the US, UK, Europe, Japan and Australia.

The Partridge Family's biggest hit came in 1970 with the song "I Think I Love You", written by Tony Romeo (who had previously written several of the Cowsills' hits), which peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in December of that year. It sold over five million copies, outselling the Beatles' "Let It Be", was awarded a gold disc, and made the group the third fictional artist to have a #1 hit (after the Chipmunks and the Archies).[17] The song's companion LP, The Partridge Family Album, reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200. It was also awarded gold status by the RIAA in December 1970, having sold over 500,000 copies.[17] A string of hit Partridge singles followed: "Doesn't Somebody Want to Be Wanted", "I'll Meet You Halfway", "I Woke Up In Love This Morning", "It's One of Those Nights (Yes Love)", "Am I Losing You", "Looking Through the Eyes of Love", "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do", and "A Friend and a Lover".[18] These singles were showcased on the million-selling albums including Up To Date, Sound Magazine, Shopping Bag, Notebook, Crossword Puzzle, and Bulletin Board.[19] The holiday album A Partridge Family Christmas Card was the top-selling Christmas record of 1971.[20] Record sales success was replicated internationally, with both the Partridge Family group and Cassidy as a solo singer achieving huge hits in Canada, Great Britain, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In all, the Partridge Family released 89 songs on nine albums between 1970 and 1973.

Danny Bonaduce album[edit]

Though Danny Bonaduce was not part of the session band, he also got a recording contract. His self-titled debut LP was released in 1973 by Lion Records, a subsidiary label of MGM Records. The single from the album, "Dreamland", was a minor hit.[21][22] Though Bonaduce was credited as lead singer on all songs, he insists that he had a weak voice and that Bruce Roberts provided most of the vocals on the album. The first track, "I'll Be Your Magician", in which the 13-year-old Bonaduce seduces a woman into having sexual intercourse with him, has developed a cult following for its campy entertainment value. The original, watered-down version was recorded with Cassidy for the Sound Magazine album, but was discarded and never released. In fall 2010, Cassidy dared Bonaduce to learn how to play the bass guitar lines for the songs the Partridge Family performed. Bonaduce learned the bass guitar line for "Doesn't Somebody Want to Be Wanted", stating that although he had no ability to read music, the song was relatively easy to learn; Cassidy and Bonaduce subsequently performed together on rare occasions.[23]

Ricky Segall album[edit]

In conjunction with the songs featured by Ricky Segall in the fourth season of the TV show, Bell Records released the album Ricky Segall and The Segalls in 1973. Seven of the album's 10 tracks were featured on the TV show. Two tracks were also released as a single, "Sooner or Later"/"Say Hey Willie" (Bell 45429).

Animated spin-off[edit]

The Partridges had a brief resurgence in animated form that saw the family propelled into the future. The animated Partridges first appeared when the kids did a series of guest spots on Goober and the Ghost Chasers. That idea evolved into a CBS Saturday morning Hanna-Barbera-produced cartoon in 1974, Partridge Family 2200 A.D. (also called The Partridge Family in Outer Space when rerun later as part of Fred Flintstone and Friends). Jones and Cassidy did not voice their animated characters and Susan Dey and Dave Madden had very limited involvement with this cartoon.

Board game[edit]

Released in 1971 by Milton Bradley, The Partridge Family Game offers a glimpse of what life on the road was like for one of TV's favorite fictional pop bands. The back of the box explains, “As on TV, many happenings occur to the Partridge family, this game describes one of them. They have finished playing at a local arena and must hurry to their BUS to get traveling again. On the way, they may have some delays.” The object of the game is to be the first player to get back to the tour bus.[24]

Comic books[edit]

Charlton Comics produced a comic book featuring the Partridge Family between March 1971 and December 1973. It features stories about the characters, song lyrics and features about Cassidy.[25] The drawings were provided by Don Sherwood.[26][27]

Reunion special[edit]

Three years after the show's cancellation, Jones and other cast members gathered with cast members of My Three Sons for the ABC special Thanksgiving Reunion with The Partridge Family and My Three Sons, which aired on November 25, 1977. The show featured the casts discussing the histories of their shows, although other than Jones and Fred MacMurray both portraying single parents of large families, the two series had no narrative link.

Reunion on Danny![edit]

In 1995, a majority of the cast appeared on Bonaduce's talk show Danny!, including Shirley Jones, Dave Madden, Jeremy Gelbwaks, Brian Forster, Suzanne Crough, Ricky Segall and the show's executive producer Bob Claver. Susan Dey was working on a movie at the time but called into the show to briefly reminisce with Bonaduce. David Cassidy was also unable to appear as he was working on a new album at that time.

Come On Get Happy: The Partridge Family Story[edit]

In 1999, a "behind-the-scenes" TV movie called Come On Get Happy: The Partridge Family Story aired on ABC. The film focuses on the lives of Danny Bonaduce (who narrated) and David Cassidy.

The New Partridge Family[edit]

In 2004, VH1 produced a pilot for a syndicated The New Partridge Family, starring Suzanne Sole as Shirley, Leland Grant as Keith, Emma Stone as Laurie, Spencer Tuskowski as Danny, and French Stewart as Reuben Kincaid. The pilot was the only episode produced. The episode ended with a teaser for "next week's episode" in which the children's estranged father, played by Danny Bonaduce, drops in for a surprise visit with his same-sex life partner.[citation needed]

Home media[edit]

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released all four seasons of The Partridge Family on DVD in Region 1. Seasons 1 and 2 have been released in Regions 2 and 4.

On October 15, 2013, Sony released The Partridge Family – The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1.[28] The 12-disc set features all 96 episodes of the series as well as bonus features.

The Screen Gems closing logo was removed from episodes for the first three seasons on DVD.

On August 27, 2013, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including The Partridge Family.[29] They subsequently re-released the first two seasons on June 24, 2014.[30]

On September 22, 2015, Mill Creek re-released Partridge Family – The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 with the original Screen Gems logo reinstated at the end of the credits. No American DVD releases contain the epilogue to episode #25 (which does appear on Region 2 & 4 releases), the unaired 1969 pilot or any episodes of the spin-off series Getting Together.[31]

DVD name Ep. # Release date
The Complete 1st Season 25 May 3, 2005
June 24, 2014 (re-release)
The Complete 2nd Season 24 November 8, 2005
June 24, 2014 (re-release)
The Complete 3rd Season 25 October 14, 2008
The Complete 4th Season 22 February 3, 2009
The Complete Series 96 October 15, 2013
September 22, 2015 (re-release)


  1. ^ "FAQ".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Cassidy, David; Deffaa, Chip (1994). C'mon, Get Happy: Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus. DBC Enterprises, Warner Books Inc. ISBN 9780446395311.
  3. ^ "An Interview with Bob Claver, part 2". Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  4. ^ "The Partridge Family – The Pilot". David Cassidy: Official Website. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
  5. ^ Green, Robin (May 11, 1972). "Naked Lunch Box". Rolling Stone.
  6. ^ Appelton, Jerry (April 21, 1978). "TVQ". The Toronto Star. p. D3.
  7. ^ "Robin Ward". Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  8. ^ "Search Results - BBC Genome".
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Partridge Family | Antenna TV – Antenna TV". Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  13. ^ "Antenna TV's Fall Schedule". Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  14. ^ Pavan (July 25, 2011). "Antenna TV Fall 2011 Schedule; OWN and TLC Acquires Undercover Boss Repeats for Fall 2012". Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  15. ^ "Antenna TV: Classic Television and Movies on KTLA's Antenna TV 5.2". Archived from the original on March 18, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  16. ^ "Elite of the Record Industry Await the Grammy Awards". The Palm Beach Post-Times. March 14, 1971. p. B16.
  17. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 284. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  18. ^ "TSORT Song Artist 592 – The Partridge Family". Retrieved June 22, 2010.
  19. ^ "TSORT Album Artist 994 – The Partridge Family". Retrieved June 22, 2010.
  20. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Christmas in the Charts (1920–2004). Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 179. ISBN 0-89820-161-6.
  21. ^ "Dreamland (Danny Bonaduce)". Lion Records. January 1973.
  22. ^ "Blueberry You/Dreamland (Danny Bonaduce)". Discogs. Lion Records. 1972.
  23. ^ Parry, Wayne (April 10, 2011). David Cassidy, Danny Bonaduce play Partridge song. Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-04-10.
  24. ^ Coopee, Todd. "The Partridge Family Game".
  25. ^ Shirley, Ian (2005). Can Rock & Roll Save the World?: An Illustrated History of Music and Comics. SAF Publishing Ltd. pp. 88–89. ISBN 0946719802.
  26. ^ "Partridge Family (1971) comic books". Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  27. ^ "Don Sherwood: (2 September 1930 – 6 March 2010, USA)". Lambiek Encyclopedia. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  28. ^ "The Partridge Family DVD news: Announcement for The Partridge Family – The Complete Series". July 15, 2013. Archived from the original on September 16, 2015. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  29. ^ "Site News DVD news: Mill Creek Licenses 52 TV Shows from Sony for Low-Cost DVD Release". August 27, 2013. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  30. ^ "The Partridge Family DVD news: Release Date for The Partridge Family – Seasons 1 & 2". April 18, 2014. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  31. ^ "The Partridge Family DVD news: Announcement for The Partridge Family – The Complete Series". August 7, 2015. Archived from the original on August 12, 2015. Retrieved August 25, 2015.


  1. "The Partridge Family Album" by Joey Green, 1994 HarperCollins Publisher

External links[edit]