David Cassidy, the Partridge Family superstar who enjoyed a storied career as a musician, actor, and Las Vegas entertainer, died Tuesday after a brief hospitalization. Following reports that he’d been put into an induced coma and was going into organ failure earlier this week, the official cause of death was “complications related to dementia,” his publicist said. He was 67.
Cassidy had been admitted to a Fort Lauderdale hospital last Wednesday, where he was said to be suffering from multiple organ failures. The death was confirmed to Variety by his long-time publicist JoAnn Geffen, who also issued a statement on behalf of the Cassidy family.
“… it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, our uncle, and our dear brother, David Cassidy,” the statement read. “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 of love and support you have shown him these many years.”
Teen Idol Took the World by Storm
Cassidy was the son of actor and singer Jack Cassidy and actress Evelyn Ward. After appearing on Broadway in the musical The Fig Leaves Are Falling in 1969 (a show that closed after just four performances), the younger Cassidy would make a few scattered television appearances before landing the life-changing role of Keith Partridge in The Partridge Family. The show was inspired by the real-life family pop music group The Cowsills, who are still performing today.
David quickly became the lead singer on the music recorded for the show, and had megahits like I Think I Love You and Cherish, the latter of which was his first solo single. Throughout the run of the show, he would be a part of 10 Partridge Family albums and record five solo albums as well. “Cassidymania” had been born, turning the extremely boyish-looking 20-year-old into an international teen idol who played to crazed sellout crowds at arenas around the world.
Cassidy would continue recording music into the 1980s and beyond. The 80s also saw him return to his Broadway roots, starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Las Vegas Institution
The 1990s started Cassidy’s run as a popular Las Vegas entertainer. In 1996, he took over for Michael Crawford as the lead actor in the hit show EFX, which ran at the MGM Grand. He followed that with a year-long run in At the Copa, a musical at the Rio in which he and co-star Sheena Easton played nightclub singers.
Cassidy would then co-create and co-produce The Rat Pack is Back, a show that ran at the Desert Inn and Sahara from 1999 to 2002. Cassidy wasn’t a regular star of the show, but would sometimes step in to portray Bobby Darin. The production was sued by the estates of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., but Cassidy would ultimately prevail in court. That legal battle cost him millions, however.
That show is still in production today, now being shown at the Tuscany Suites and Casino off the Strip. Bandleader Lon Bronson, who has been the show’s music director from its inception, said that Cassidy set the original bar for a Las Vegas residency.
“He was a pioneer of the long-term star residency in Las Vegas, those 44-week residencies,” Bronson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Now, if you have 10 weeks a year, it’s considered a residency.” Bronson also noted that alcohol did not serve Cassidy well, saying the personality changes it brought on alienated many former friends and co-workers, including himself.
In his final years, Cassidy struggled with addiction, as well as financial and personal issues. He was charged with driving under the influence three times between 2010 and 2014. In 2015, he filed for bankruptcy, and was later cited for leaving the scene of an accident. He was divorced three times, most recently in 2014 from Sue Shifrin, to whom he was married for 23 years.
In February, Cassidy appeared on The Dr. Phil Show, where he officially acknowledged his own dementia, a hereditary disorder that runs in his family.
Cassidy is survived by his two children, Beau and Katie, both of whom have followed in his show business footsteps.