David Cassidy is smiling and saying hello to everyone as he walks through the set of the NBC movie about his life, aptly titled "The David Cassidy Story."
A youthful 49, Cassidy's career has gone through countless ups and downs. After appearing on Broadway and in guest roles on such series as "Marcus Welby, M.D.," Cassidy became an overnight pop music sensation and international teen dream at 19 thanks to the ABC series "The Partridge Family," which also starred his stepmom, Shirley Jones, as his mother.
The film--starring Andrew Kavovit as Cassidy and Malcolm McDowell as his father, Tony Award-winning actor Jack Cassidy--dramatizes David Cassidy's attempt to create his own identity separate from his squeaky-clean pop music TV image. Robbed of his private life, Cassidy had a tense relationship with his father, who died in an apartment fire in 1976. Over the years, the singer-actor struggled with inner demons and broken marriages.
Cassidy wrote about his life in the 1994 autobiography, "C'mon Get Happy . . . Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus."
An executive producer of the NBC biopic, Cassidy rerecorded all of his old hits, including "I Think I Love You," "C'mon Get Happy" and "I Woke Up in Love This Morning."
Six years ago, Cassidy and his half brother Shaun Cassidy scored a big success on Broadway in the musical "Blood Brothers," and in recent years he's made a name for himself in Las Vegas. He got rave reviews headlining the MGM Grand show "EFX," and co-wrote and produced the recent Vegas attraction "The Rat Pack Is Back."
Cassidy is set to begin previews Jan. 18 at Las Vegas' Rio All-Suite Casino Resort in the musical extravaganza "David Cassidy at the Copa."
The gregarious Cassidy recently talked about the NBC movie and his life during a break in the filming at Universal Studios.
Question: Has it been weird to watch your life unfold before your eyes?
Answer: It's very bizarre. I walked on the set the first day and I am watching Malcolm McDowell, who is a friend of mine and someone I truly love and respect and admire, play my father, and Andy, who is a wonderful actor, play myself in scenes that actually occurred, particular bullet scenes in my head, snapshots of my life which were pretty significant moments in my life. When you cut your life into a film--90-some minutes of film--you end up taking snapshots and vignettes of the highlights of it--marriage, divorce, death, success, fame, loss. The up and the down and the up again. I heard one of the PR people [from NBC] say, "We are selling it as a rise and fall and rise again of a rock star." That is one way of looking at it, but clearly I was a legitimate rock star for a long time but my life has been so much richer. Fortunately, the '90s have been so much more fruitful for me as an actor, as an entertainer and a writer, producer, director.
Q: Was having the film made about your life cathartic?
A: Most definitely. The catharsis for me is an ongoing process, 5 1/2 years of analysis, which I have outwardly discussed in great detail, partly because of my own personal metamorphoses about who I am and what I feel about myself.
Q: Will this movie show you at your lowest?
A: All of it is in the movie. After my dad's death and my divorce from Kay [Lenz] and my manager's death, that was the low end in my life, around '79-80. My current and forever wife Sue and I got together about three or four months before I left [for England in 1987 to do the play "Time"]. She came over and joined me. We dated when I was playing Wembley Stadium and she saw the reaction and the really big success. And she saw me fall, when I lived at my best friend's sister's apartment and was crawling around on my hands and knees trying to find a quarter.
Until I really dealt with a lot of the demons in my life--the fear and self-doubt and unresolved issues with my old man--I could never feel fulfilled and happy. I would wake up in the morning and feel bad. The thing about me is that I never felt sorry for myself. I don't think I ever wallowed in it much. I tended to try and numb the pain, just tried to forget, to try and live in a sense of denial.
Q: Did your half brothers, Shaun, Patrick and Ryan Cassidy, also have difficulties with your father?
A: Oh yes. They had the same communications problem with him because he dealt with his children very differently than he did with the rest of world. He was a fabulous guy. I worshiped him. This is somebody who was obsessed with success. He had a very strong work ethic as an actor. He was charismatic. He was half crazy. He had one foot in reality and one foot in his own reality. And if you disagreed--my brothers and I talked about this--you were off the show, you know.