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The Partridge Family

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Final episode date
23 March 1974


First episode date
25 September 1970

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Shirley JonesDavid CassidyDanny BonaduceSusan DeySuzanne CroughJeremy Gelbwaks (1970–71)Brian Forster (1971–74)Dave Madden

Theme music composer
Diane HilderbrandDanny JanssenWes Farrell

Opening theme
"When We're Singin'" (1970–71)"C'mon, Get Happy" (1971–74)

Ending theme
"Never Need to Think" (1973–74)

Theme songs
When We're Singin, C'mon, Get Happy


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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 who embark 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.


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The Partridge Family The Partridge Family Wikipedia

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 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 their hometown than on tour.


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Created for television by Bernard Slade, the series' executive producer was Bob Claver. The show was inspired by and loosely based on the Cowsills, 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. Shirley Jones had already been signed as mother Shirley Partridge and star of the show.

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

The show proved popular, but the fame had its toll on several, if not most, of the starring cast. In the midst of his rise to fame, David Cassidy soon felt stifled by the show and trapped by the mass hysteria surrounding his every move. 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. Among other things, the article mentions Cassidy was riding around New York in the back of a car "stoned and drunk."

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.

Cast and characters

  • Shirley Jones as Shirley Partridge: vocals, keyboard, tambourine, percussion
  • David Cassidy as Keith Partridge: lead vocals, rhythm guitar, electric lead guitar, banjo
  • Susan Dey as Laurie Partridge: vocals, harmony, piano, Hammond organ, percussion
  • Danny Bonaduce as Danny Partridge: vocals, bass guitar
  • Jeremy Gelbwaks as Chris Partridge (season 1): vocals, drums
  • Brian Forster as Chris Partridge (seasons 2–4): vocals, drums
  • Suzanne Crough as Tracy Partridge: tambourine, percussion
  • Dave Madden as Reuben Kincaid: band manager
  • Ricky Segall as Ricky Stevens (season 4): singer
  • Notable guest stars

    During its four-season run, many actors made guest appearances on the show. Some of them were well known at the time, such as Morey Amsterdam, John Astin, Carl Ballantine, 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, Ned Glass, James Gregory, Margaret Hamilton, Pat Harrington Jr., Arte Johnson, Harvey Lembeck, 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, 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.

    Country singer Johnny Cash made a 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.

    Bobby Sherman appeared in the last episode of the first season (Episode 25) as struggling songwriter Bobby Conway. This episode led into a short-lived spinoff series on ABC, Getting Together, starring Sherman and Wes Stern as Bobby Conway's business partner Lionel Poindexter.


    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". 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, a 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.


    The first session for the pilot was produced by Monkees' producer Shorty Rogers,but later, led by music producer Wes Farrell, a group of hired studio musicians (informally referred to as the Wrecking Crew) actually created the Partridge Family's sound. The harmonious background vocalists were The Love Generation,aka brothers John and Tom Bahler, Jackie Ward, who'd had a #1 hit on Dot Records in 1963 with "Wonderful Summer" (as "Robin Ward"), and Ron Hicklin (initially the Ron Hicklin Singers). David Cassidy was originally to lip sync with the rest of the cast, but he convinced Farrell just weeks into production that he could sing and was allowed to join the studio ensemble as the lead singer. He and his step-mother, Shirley, were the only two actors within the Partridge Family actors that were allowed to sing for recording.

    The Partridge Family theme song, 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".

    Later, under Farrell's direction, when the new version appeared, it featured new lyrics sung to the "When We're Singin'" tune. With the new chorus finalized, "C'mon Get Happy" showcased the new verse:

    Broadcast history

    For its final season, ABC moved the show from its 8:30 pm Friday night slot (where it rated first in its timeslot) to Saturday at 8:00 pm (opposite CBS' top-rated All in the Family, with which it could not compete successfully). Once the show's popularity began to decline in the US, the series took off in the UK. This new reputation in the UK gave them 5 UK Top 20 Hits, some of which were less popular in the States. After 96 episodes and eight Partridge Family albums, ABC canceled the show.


    (Households with TV: 62,100,000)

  • 1970–1971: No. 26 The Partridge Family ABC Estimated Audience 11,899,800
  • 1971–1972: No. 16 The Partridge Family ABC Estimated Audience 14,034,600
  • 1972–1973: No. 19 The Partridge Family ABC Estimated Audience 13,348,800
  • 1973–1974: No. 78
  • Syndication

    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 Fox Family, Ion Television, and Hallmark Channel. As of January 2011, it airs on Antenna TV.

    The cast was reunited in 1977 on the special Thanksgiving Reunion with The Partridge Family and My Three Sons. 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).


    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.

    As the show and other associated merchandising soared, David Cassidy became a teen idol. 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 USA, 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), peaked at Number 1 on the Billboard charts 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 No. 1 hit (after the Chipmunks and the Archies). The song's companion LP, The Partridge Family Album, reached Number 4 in the Billboard 200. It was also awarded a gold disc by the RIAA in December 1970, having sold over one million copies. 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". These singles were showcased on million-selling albums including Up To Date, Sound Magazine, Shopping Bag, Notebook, Crossword Puzzle, and Bulletin Board. Their holiday album A Partridge Family Christmas Card was the No. 1 selling Christmas record of 1971. Record sales success was replicated internationally, with both The Partridge Family (group) and David Cassidy (solo) achieving huge hits in Canada, Great Britain, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In all, The Partridge Family released 89 songs on 9 albums between 1970 and 1973.

    Danny Bonaduce album

    Though Danny Bonaduce was not part of the session band, he also got a recording contract, and released a self-titled album in 1972, Danny Bonaduce. 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 on 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 have performed together on rare occasions since that time.

    Animated spin-off

    The Partridges had a brief resurgence in animated form which 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). Shirley Jones and David Cassidy did not voice their animated counterparts (Shirley Partridge was renamed Connie Partridge in the cartoon), and Susan Dey and Dave Madden had very limited involvement with this cartoon.

    Board game

    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.

    Comic books

    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 David Cassidy. The drawings were provided by Don Sherwood.

    Reunion special

    Three years after the show's cancellation, Shirley 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, that 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.

    The New Partridge Family

    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 and Spencer Tuskowski as Danny. The pilot was the only episode produced.

    DVD releases

    Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released all 4 Seasons of The Partridge Family in DVD 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. 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. They subsequently re-released the first two seasons on June 24, 2014.

    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 U.S. DVD releases contain the epilogue to episode #25 which does appear on Region 2 & 4 releases, the unaired 1969 pilot, nor any episodes of the spin-off series Getting Together.


    The Partridge Family Wikipedia

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