Cassidy circa 1960s.
|Born||John Joseph Edward Cassidy
March 5, 1927
Richmond Hill, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 12, 1976
1221 North Kings Road, West Hollywood, California, USA
|Cause of death||Fire|
|Spouse(s)||Evelyn Ward (1948-1956)
Shirley Jones (1956-1974)
David by first wife
Cassidy achieved his greatest success as a musical performer on Broadway, appearing 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, Match Game and McCloud and three times as a murderer on Columbo, including the acclaimed "Murder By the Book" episode directed by Steven Spielberg.
He lent his charming wit to game shows, and co-starred with Ronnie Schell in a TV revival of Hellzapoppin'. Cassidy also co-starred as a killer in the movie The Eiger Sanction with Clint Eastwood and provided the voice of Bob Cratchit for the pioneering animated TV special Mr. 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 the legendary 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 said to be written with Cassidy in mind. Although Cassidy had played a similar buffoonish character in the 1967-68 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 as Ted's highly competitive and equally egotistical brother, Hal.
Cassidy was married twice. His first wife was actress Evelyn Ward. Together they had a son, David Cassidy. After divorcing in 1956, Jack married actress Shirley Jones. David and Shirley later starred together in the sitcom The Partridge Family. Jack and Shirley had three sons, Shaun, Patrick, and Ryan, and divorced in 1974.
Along with Shirley and sons David and Shaun, Cassidy was managed for many years by former table tennis champion and close friend Ruth Aarons, who came from a theatrical family and found her niche later in life as a talent manager.
In his 1994 autobiography, C'Mon, Get Happy, David Cassidy wrote that he became increasingly concerned about his father in the last years of his life. Jack 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. Shirley Jones described a similar incident when she found him sitting naked in a corner, reading a book. Jones said to Cassidy that they had to get ready to do a show, and he calmly looked up and said, "I know now that I'm Christ".
In December 1974, he was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility for 48 hours. At that time, Jones found out that he had been previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In his autobiography, Cassidy's eldest son David wrote about his father's bisexuality, citing attributed personal accounts and reports, both anecdotal and published, of his father's same-sex affairs, a fact neither he or his siblings discovered until after Cassidy's death. In her 2013 memoir, Shirley Jones confirms that Cassidy had many same-sex affairs, including one with Cole Porter.
In 1976, Cassidy was living alone in an apartment in West Hollywood. In the early morning hours of December 12, 1976, he lit a cigarette and fell asleep or passed out on a couch, which then caught fire, and the flames spread throughout the apartment. His body was found on the floor, as if he had been trying to crawl to the sliding glass doors but was overcome by smoke inhalation. He was officially identified by the signet ring he wore, bearing the Cassidy family coat of arms. He had had six of these rings made (one each for his four sons, one for his brother, and one for himself) while researching his family history.
Coincidentally, in 1971 he had appeared in an episode of Night Gallery, in which his character becomes capable of out-of-body activity, and unintentionally kills himself as he sleeps.
Cassidy won the 1964 Tony Award for best featured actor in a musical for his role in She Loves Me and 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.
- 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.
- C'mon, Get Happy, p. 204
- 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.
- C'mon, Get Happy, p. 204-205
- Shirley & Marty, p. 52
- McGlone, Jackie (2007-03-24). "Still a daydreamer". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
- C'mon, Get Happy, p. 211-212
- Jack Cassidy at the Internet Broadway Database
- Jack Cassidy at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Jack Cassidy at the Internet Movie Database
- The Last Laurel at the Internet Movie Database