If you were a young TV watcher during the 1970s, you probably had a poster of Keith Partridge on your bedroom wall or a crush on Laurie. Maybe you admired Danny’s pluck, or wished you could play the tambourine alongside Tracy. You surely thought Shirley was the coolest mom ever, even if some of those outfits were a bit out there. The Partridge Family was one of the most popular programs on television between 1970 and 1974 (and beyond in syndication), and their fame spilled over to the music world as well. ABC struck gold with this show about a widowed working mother who forms a band with her five children, traveling from gig to gig in a trippy school bus. C’mon get happy and reminisce about your favorite musical sitcom with us, and learn a few things you never knew about The Partridge Family.
1. Shirley Jones turned down a role on The Brady Bunch
Before The Partridge Family, Shirley Jones was actually offered the role of Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch. “While the idea of playing the mother in The Brady Bunch was initially attractive to me, I turned it down because I didn’t want to be the mother taking the roast out of the oven and no doing much else. I had no doubts at all about playing Shirley Partridge. First, because she was destined to become the first working mother on TV and I loved the script. Second, because working on the series would let me be an almost full-time mom and raise my kids.”
2. Danny Bonaduce was always a bit of a troublemaker
Like his character, Danny Bonaduce, who played the wisecracking middle son Danny Partridge, was a bit of a wild child who would do things like throw food and have pillow fights. In Shirley Jone’s memoir she said, “We couldn’t deny that he was snotty at times. Once, when he was getting too big for his boots, we all ganged up on him and convinced Susan to pour a pitcher of milk over his head, just to put him in his place.” The actor later struggled with drug abuse, homelessness and multiple arrests but has continued to appear on television and radio throughout the years.
3. The success of the show led to divorce
Shirley Jones has said that the massive success of the show put a strain on her marriage to Jack Cassidy (who was David Cassidy’s dad in real life). “The stratospheric success of the show took its toll on my marriage to Jack. His overriding sense of inferiority in the face of my success drove him into the arms of other women even more often than before.”
4. The cast was not properly compensated
The show was a hit and the records were topping the charts…but Sony kept most of the money to themselves. David Cassidy turned into a huge teen idol and his likeness was being sold on all kinds of things from t-shirts to lunchboxes, but he only made $600 a week and didn’t get royalties. However he did get to renegotiate when his manager pointed out that he had been underage when he signed.
5. There were two Chris Partridges
When the show first started, Chris Partridge was played by Jeremy Gelbwaks but everyone complained about his behavior. So they replaced him with Brian Forster who stuck with the role until the show ended. The studio didn’t receive a single letter about the recasting.
6. Susan Dey had a crush on David Cassidy
Susan Dey, who played Laurie Partridge, reportedly had a huge crush on David Cassidy who did not return the feelings. He thought of her more like a sister but that didn’t do anything to dampen her emotions. Later, after the show ended, they briefly dated. In fact, Cassidy revealed in his autobiography that they slept together once. Apparently Susan wasn’t happy that her former co-star shared this personal tidbit with the world, and has essentially stopped speaking to him.
7. The Partridge dog just vanished
In the first season, the Partridges had a dog named Simone who simply disappeared and was just never mentioned again.
8. The Partridge Family’s house was used for other shows
If their home looked familiar that’s because it was used for other shows as well. The home was the same one that the Kravitz’s from Bewitched lived in. Years later the house was also used in the movie Pleasantville.
9. The Partridge Family beat The Beatles
Like The Monkees, The Partridge Family released records that actually went on to become huge hits. The group was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy in 1971 (only David Cassidy and Shirley Jones really sang on the album, but the whole cast was nominated). Their biggest single, “I Think I Love You” went to number one on the Billboard charts and actually outsold The Beatles’ “Let in Be.”
10. The show was inspired by a real family
The concept for the show was based on the real life family and band, The Cowsills. Initially ranging in age from 8 to 19, these six musical siblings formed a band along with their mom in the late 1960s and had a few modest hits. The sister of the group, Susan, has joked in mock frustration that she could never figure out which one of the sisters on the show was supposed to be her.
11. Susan Dey still refuses to attend reunions
When Partridge Family reunions are held, Susan Dey is the only former cast member who consistently refuses to attend.
12. There was an animated spin-off
Does anyone remember that there was actually an animated spin-off of the show called Partridge Family, 2200 A.D. (later titled The Partridge Family in Outer Space)? It only aired from 1974 to 1975, and was inexplicably set 225 years in the future as a sort of musical Jetson’s attempt. What were those producers smoking back in the day?
13. There were a plenty of famous guest stars
Guest stars on the show included people who were famous as well as people who would go on to become very famous. Farrah Fawcett, Jodie Foster, Rob Reiner, Mark Hamill, Dick Clark, Richard Pryor, and Ray Bolger were a few of them.
14. The bus is no longer
You’d think the Mondrian-styled bus that was used on the show would be in a museum somewhere, but sadly not. After the show ended, it lived for years behind Lucy’s Tacos on Martin Luther King Blvd, right by USC. It got pretty trashed though and eventually ended up at the dump.
15. There was a different unaired version of the pilot
There was a different version of the pilot episode shot that was not aired. In it, the family lives in Ohio as opposed to California, and the deceased father is talked about and established as a bit of a drinker. On the real show, Mr. Partridge’s death was never discussed, nor was his first name ever revealed.
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