David Cassidy, the '70s teen idol who battled substance abuse as he struggled to regain his stardom as an adult, died Tuesday in a Florida hospital. He was 67.
Cassidy's death was confirmed in a statement from his family. It said, “On behalf of the entire Cassidy family, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, our uncle, and our dear brother, David Cassidy. 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 and support you have shown him these many years.”
His death comes after he was hospitalized several days ago for organ failure and less than a year after he announced he was suffering from dementia after a disastrous live performance at B.B. King's in New York.
The son of Broadway performer Jack Cassidy and his first wife, fellow performer Evelyn Ward, David grew up around show biz and and made his theatrical debut as a teenager.
After breaking into TV guesting on prime time dramas such as Marcus Welby MD, Ironside and Adam-12, he auditioned for a role in a sitcom pilot about a rock and roll family. Picked up by ABC in the fall of 1970, The Partridge Family became an instant hit -- and Columbia Pictures using marketing techniques from its earlier success The Monkees, began aggressively marketing David and his character Keith.
Before long, he was the hot new face on teen magazines and singles featuring his voice rivaled The Jackson Five and The Osmonds on the radio. While co-star Shirley Jones -- Jack Cassidy's second wife -- was hardly a pop star, David was. Backed by L.A.'s top studio musicians and session singers, the Partridge Family, and soon, David Cassidy solo records became hits. There were sold out tours around the world, and, as David came to admit, a wild lifestyle that began to take a toll on his health.
But once the hits stopped and the sitcom ended, Cassidy found it hard to shake off the typecasting. An appearance on TV's Police Story gained him an Emmy nomination and soon after, a starring role in the short-lived NBC drama Man Undercover. He did well in several '90s theatrical projects -- most notably a national tour of Broadway's Blood Brothers. He also headlined Las Vegas-based productions such as At the Copa co-starring Sheena Easton. And he produced the Sahara Hotel's The Rat Pack is Back.
David continued to record, enjoying greater success in Britain than the U.S. from the mid-'70s on. George Michael, who idolized Cassidy, backed him on the 1985 single "The Last Kiss" -- which went Top 10 in Britain but flopped in the U.S. David reached the top 20 here for the final time in 1990, with "Lyin' to Myself."
David was married three times, the first to the actress Kay Lenz, then to horse breeder Meryl Tanz. His longest union was to songwriter-turned businesswoman Sue Shifrin. They were together for 23 years -- but divorced in 2014, not long after one of David's DUI arrests. The couple had a son, and David also had a daughter Katie, from an out-of-wedlock relationship.
Cassidy admitted later in life that alcohol had been a problem through several generations of his father's family. It plagued him repeatedly during his life and may have factored in his late life health issues. On the Doctor Phil show in March 2017, he disclosed he was living with a form on dementia. Eight months later, he was hospitalized with liver and kidney failure.