21

Nov

‘Partridge Family’ Star David Cassidy Dies From Organ Failure

David Cassidy, once a heartthrob to millions of moon-eyed girls worldwide who first discovered him on The Partridge Family, has died. He was 67.

“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,” his publicist JoAnn Geffen said Tuesday evening in a statement to EW. “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.”

The actor, who had previously admitted publicly that he had problems with alcohol, succumbed to organ failure in a Florida hospital. He was also suffering from dementia.

Born in New York City to actors Evelyn Ward and Jack Cassidy, the younger Cassidy caught the acting and singing bug early and appeared in his first Broadway musical in 1969. It failed but his attempt at stardom didn’t: he did a screen test and ended up moving to Los Angeles where he made appearances in TV shows like Ironside, Medical Center, and Adam-12. Then came the career-changing opportunity to play Keith Partridge, the eldest son in an ABC sitcom that was loosely based on a popular family band called The Cowsills.

It wasn’t hard for Cassidy to get into character on The Partridge Family. His on-screen mom was played by Shirley Jones, his real-life stepmom after his dad divorced Ward when he was in grade school. And boy could they make beautiful music together: Cassidy and Jones, as well as the rest of the Partridge cast that included Susan Dey and Danny Bonaduce, would go on to record 10 albums and five solos during the series, selling millions of copies worldwide. Though the sitcom was beloved by fans, the handsome Cassidy was one of the show’s biggest draws. Membership in Cassidy’s fan club exploded — it was reportedly bigger than those for Elvis Presley and The Beatles — while his handsome visage was featured on posters, lunch boxes, and cereal boxes.

Offstage, Cassidy became a spokesperson for various Alzheimer’s organizations since his mother died from severe dementia. Earlier this year, he told PEOPLE he was suffering from the same disease. “I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming,” he said.

Thrice divorced, Cassidy is survived by his daughter-actress Katie Cassidy (Arrow), born in 1986 from a relationship with Sherry Williams Benedon, and a son Beau with his third wife, Sue Shifrin, as well as half-brothers Shau, Patrick and Ryan Cassidy.