The Partridge Family

The Partridge Family Information

The Partridge Family is an American television sitcom series about a widowed mother and 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.


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 its early development, the Cowsill children were considered by the producers for featuring on The Partridge Family, but because they were not trained actors, Slade and Claver abandoned that idea. Shirley Jones had already been signed as mother Shirley Partridge and star of the show.

The pilot was filmed in December 1969. It differs from the version that aired in 1970. In the unaired pilot, Shirley's name is "Connie", and she has a boyfriend, played by Jack Cassidy, Jones' real-life husband at the time. Laurie has a line of dialogue about her late father once getting drunk at a Christmas party, and the family lives at a different address. This unaired pilot is not available on home video.


In the pilot episode, a group of musical siblings in the fictitious city of San Pueblo, California convinces their recently widowed mother, Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones), 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 (Dave Madden), who helps make the song a Top 40 hit. After some more persuading, Shirley agrees that the family can go on tour. They acquire an old school bus for touring, paint it with Mondrian-inspired patterns, and depart to Las Vegas for their first live gig at Caesars Palace. The Partridge children were played by David Cassidy (Jones' real-life stepson) as her eldest son Keith, Susan Dey as Laurie, Danny Bonaduce as Danny, Jeremy Gelbwaks as Chris, and Suzanne Crough as Tracy.

Subsequent episodes usually feature the band performing in various venues or in their garage. The shows would 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 took place in their hometown rather than on tour.

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 was phased out during the second season. At the beginning of the fourth season, a four-year-old neighbor named Ricky Stevens (Ricky Segall) was featured and would sing a children's song during each episode, but was dropped mid-season.

ABC moved the show from its 8:30 pm Friday night slot (where it was 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). After 96 episodes and eight Partridge Family albums, ABC canceled the show.


  • Shirley Jones as Shirley Partridge: vocals, keyboards, tambourine, percussion
  • David Cassidy as Keith Partridge: lead vocals, rhythm guitars (6 string and Ovation 12 string), electric lead guitars, 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
  • Suzanne Crough as Tracy Partridge: tambourine, percussion
  • Dave Madden as Reuben Kinkaid: band manager
  • Brian Forster as Chris Partridge (seasons 2"4): vocals, drums
  • Ricky Segall as Ricky Stevens (season 4): singer

Guest stars

During its four season run, many actors made guest appearances on the show.

Alan Oppenheimer Ann Jillian Ann Morgan Guilbert Annette O'Toole Arte Johnson
Barbara Rhoades Bernard Fox Bert Convy Brooke Bundy Bruce Kimmel
Carl Ballantine Charlotte Rae Cheryl Ladd Dick Clark Dick Wilson
Edgar Buchanan Elaine Giftos Farrah Fawcett Fran Ryan George Chakiris
Gordon Jump Herb Edelman Harold Gould Harry Morgan Harvey Lembeck
Holly Near Howard Cosell Howard Morton Jack Riley Jackie Coogan
Jackie Earle Haley Jaclyn Smith James Gregory Jared Martin John Astin
Jodie Foster Judson Pratt Larry Wilcox Leonard Stone Louis Gossett, Jr.
Mark Hamill Margaret Hamilton Meredith Baxter Michael Lembeck Michael Ontkean
Morey Amsterdam Nancy Walker Ned Glass Nita Talbot Noam Pitlik
Norman Fell Pat Harrington, Jr. Richard Bakalyan Richard Bull Richard Mulligan
Richard Pryor Richard X. Slattery Rick Hurst Rob Reiner Robert F. Simon
Rosemary DeCamp Season Hubley Slim Pickens Stuart Margolin Tony Geary
Val Bisoglio Vic Tayback William Lucking William Schallert William Windom
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 episode 25 (the last episode of the first season) 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.


See List of The Partridge Family episodes for more information


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 most cast members did not actually play on the recordings. 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 brothers John and Tom Bahler, Jackie 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 Shirley Jones, who sang background, were the only cast members who were actually featured on the recordings.

Despite best attempts, the Partridge Family Theme, shown over opening credits, underwent more than one incarnation. Initial episodes feature the song "When We're Singin'" in place of the popular title later used, "C'mon Get Happy". The latter"?a play upon the 1920s song "Get Happy" which also features the tag "Come on, Get Happy (we're gonna chase all your blues away)""?was likely a hidden influence in the "wide-audience appeal" approach of the show and its music. Significant is the verse lyric that began the initial theme "When We're Singin'":

"Five of us, and Mom working all day,
we knew we could help her if our music would pay,
Danny got Reuben to sell our song, and it really
came together when Mom sang along..." (from "When we're Singin')
Later, 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:

"We had a dream, we'd go travelin' together,
We'd spread a little lovin' then we'd keep movin' on.
Somethin' always happens whenever we're together
We get a happy feelin' when we're singing a song... (from "C'Mon Get Happy")
Also of interest, when the first theme is replaced by Danny Janssen's new lyric, the "outro" credits music bed is also replaced, from the organ/horn call-and-response music, to a newer jazzy instrumental of the title theme, which Janssen likely saw no profit from, as it featured no lyric, only the Wes Farrell tune.

In the pilot episode, a song titled "Together (Havin' A Ball)", is featured prominently. This song is not the Partridge Family that we eventually would know, and does not feature Cassidy/Jones vocal layering later added to studio musicals and singers. Its lyrics, as transcribed, were clearly intended to be in contention for the series theme. This song, which was never available on any Partridge LP, was likely buried by producers. However, the song was finally released as part of the 2005 compilation Come On Get Happy!: The Very Best of The Partridge Family. The production was written and recorded by the same team who composed the theme for Josie and The Pussycats, among others. The lyric combines elements of current pop, The Beatles' Come Together, and Elvis Presley's personal slogan "TCB", or Taking Care of Business, along with narrative, "Just doin' their number" and "playin' and singin'" their "new sound." The song has been credited to The Love Generation, a group of LA studio musicians (similar to the Wrecking Crew) and jingle singers, but in reality these featured the background vocalists who recorded on ALL of the Partridge Family platters, so it is considered a lost track.

As the show and other associated merchandising took off, 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, 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 R.I.A.A. 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 The Partridge Family achieving huge hits in Canada, Great Britain, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

In all, The Partridge Family released 89 songs on 9 albums between 1970"1973.

David Cassidy Rolling Stone interview

In the midst of his rise to fame, David Cassidy soon grew tired of the show. In May 1972, he appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. He was nude in the photoshoot but the cover was cropped. Annie Leibovitz was the photographer. He used the article to get away from his squeaky clean image. Amongst other things, the article mentions Cassidy was riding around New York in the back of a car "stoned and drunk" and the continued inference that Cassidy smoked marijuana.

Danny Bonaduce album

Though Danny Bonaduce was not part of the session band, he, too, got a recording contract, and circa 1972 released a self-titled album, Danny Bonaduce. Though Bonaduce was credited as lead singer on all the songs, he insists that he had a very weak voice and that Bruce Roberts provided most of the vocals on the album. The first track on the album, a song entitled "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 of the song was recorded with Cassidy for the Sound Magazine album, but it 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. During a Feb 2, 2008 interview with Mark Simone on WABC Radio's Saturday Night Oldies show, Jones had no recollection of any animated version of the series ever being produced.


Nickelodeon featured a run of The Partridge Family from 1993"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. , it airs on Antenna TV.

The cast was reunited in the 90's on The Arsenio Hall Show and The Danny Bonaduce Show and were featured on The 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 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.


  • 1) 1970"1971: No. 25
  • 2) 1971"1972: No. 16
  • 3) 1972"1973: No. 19
  • 4) 1973"1974: Not in the Top 30


See The Partridge Family Discography for more information

Awards and nominations

Award Year Category Result Recipient(s)
Golden Globe 1971 Best TV Show " Musical/Comedy
Best TV Actress " Musical/Comedy Shirley Jones
1972 Best TV Show " Musical/Comedy
Best TV Actress " Musical/Comedy Shirley Jones
1973 Best Supporting Actress " Television Susan Dey
Young Artist Award 2003 Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award Danny Bonaduce
TV Land Awards Quintessential Non-Traditional Family Danny Bonaduce, David Cassidy, Suzanne Crough, Susan Dey, Brian Forster, Jeremy Gelbwaks, Shirley Jones
Hippest Fashion Plate " Male David Cassidy
2004 Favorite Teen Dream " Female Susan Dey
Irreplaceable Replacement Brian Forster (For replacing Jeremy Gelbwaks)
2006 Favorite Singing Siblings Danny Bonaduce, David Cassidy, Suzanne Crough, Susan Dey, Brian Forster, Jeremy Gelbwaks
The Most Irreplaceable Replacement Brian Forster (For replacing Jeremy Gelbwaks)
2007 Most Beautiful Braces Susan Dey

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 region 2 and 4.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete 1st Season 25 May 3, 2005
The Complete 2nd Season 24 November 8, 2005
The Complete 3rd Season 25 October 14, 2008
The Complete 4th Season 22 February 3, 2009

See also

  • Come On Get Happy: The Partridge Family Story
  • Ron Hicklin Singers
  • The Cowsills
  • The Love Generation
  • The Brady Bunch

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