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Jack Cassidy
Born John Joseph Edward Cassidy
March 5, 1927(1927-03-05)
Richmond Hill, New York, U.S.
Died December 12, 1976 (aged 49)
1221 North Kings Roads, West Hollywood, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1946–1976
Spouse(s) Shirley Jones (1956-1974)
Evelyn Ward (1948-1956)

John Joseph Edward “Jack” Cassidy (March 5, 1927 – December 12, 1976) was an American actor of stage, film and screen.

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 written with Cassidy in mind.[1] However, Cassidy turned down the role, feeling that it was not right for him, and the part went to Ted Knight. Cassidy later appeared as a guest star in a 1971 episode as Ted's highly competitive and equally egocentric brother, Hal.



Early years

Cassidy was born in Richmond Hill, New York to William Cassidy, who was of Irish descent, and Charlotte Koehler, who was of German descent. He 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 Bewitched, Get Smart, That Girl, Columbo, Hawaii Five-O, Match Game and McCloud. He lent his charming wit to game shows, and co-starred with Ronnie Schell in a TV revival of Hellzapoppin'. Cassidy also co-starred in the movie The Eiger Sanction with Clint Eastwood.

Personal life

Cassidy was married twice. His first wife was actress Evelyn Ward, who is the mother of actor and singer David Cassidy. After divorcing in 1956, he married actress Shirley Jones. They had three sons, Shaun, Patrick, and Ryan, and divorced in 1974. In his 1994 autobiography, C'Mon, Get Happy, David wrote that he became increasingly concerned about his father in the last years of his life. He suffered from alcoholism and displayed increasingly erratic behavior. In 1974, his neighbors were shocked to see him naked watering his front lawn in the middle of the afternoon.[2] Shirley Jones described a similar incident when she found him sitting in a corner, totally naked, 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".[3] In December 1974, he was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility for 48 hours.[4] At that time, Jones found out that he had been previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder.[5]

In 1976, Cassidy was living alone in an apartment in West Hollywood, California. Some time 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 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.[6] He was officially identified by the pinky ring he wore, bearing the Cassidy family crest; he had six of these rings made (one each for his four sons, one for his brother, and one for himself) after discovering it while researching his family history.[7] In an odd coincidence, he had starred in a 1971 episode of the TV series Night Gallery, called "The Last Laurel", in which he played a character who accidentally killed himself while sleeping.

David Cassidy wrote about his father's bisexuality in his autobiography, a fact he discovered only after his father's death.[8]

Cassidy's granddaughter, Katie Cassidy, currently stars on the CW TV series Melrose Place and in the feature length films Black Christmas, Taken and the upcoming A Nightmare on Elm Street.


Cassidy 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 under way to fund the dedication ceremony.



  • The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977) - Damon Runyon
  • The Feather and Father Gang (1977) (TV series)
  • McCloud (1977) (TV series) - Lord Charles Bridges
  • Benny and Barney: Las Vegas Undercover (1977) (TV) - Jules Rosen
  • W.C. Fields and Me (1976) - John Barrymore
  • Columbo: Now You See Him... (1976) (TV) - The Great Santini
  • Hawaii Five-O (1975) (TV series) - Orrin Morwood
  • Matt Helm (1975) (TV series) - Buckman
  • Knuckle (1975) (TV)
  • The Eiger Sanction (1975) - Miles Mellough
  • Death Among Friends (1975) (TV) - Chico Donovan
  • Sin, American Style (1974) (TV) - Danny Holliday
  • The Phantom of Hollywood (1974) (TV) - Otto Vonner/Karl Vonner
  • June Moon (1974) (TV) - Paul Sears
  • Columbo: Publish or Perish (1974) (TV) - Riley Greenleaf
  • Cannon (1974) (TV series) - General James O'Hara
  • Great Mysteries (1973) (TV series) - Pennington
  • Barnaby Jones (1973) (TV series) - Craig Woodridge
  • A Time for Love (1973) (TV) - Tom Pierson
  • Your Money or Your Wife (1972) (TV) - Josh Darwin, the TV Producer
  • Banyon (1972) (TV series)
  • Love, American Style (1970–1972) (TV series)
  • Mission: Impossible (1972) (TV series) - Orin Kerr
  • Sarge (1971) (TV series) - John Michael O'Flaherty
  • Bonanza (1971) (TV series) - Kevin O'Casey
  • Mary Tyler Moore (1971) (TV series) - Hal Baxter
  • Bunny O'Hare (1971) - Lieutenant Greeley
  • Alias Smith and Jones (1971) (TV series) - Harry Wagener
  • Columbo: Murder by the Book (1971) (TV) - Ken Franklin
  • The Powder Room (1971) (TV)
  • Storefront Lawyers (1971) (TV series)
  • Night Gallery (1971) (TV series) - Marius Davis
  • The Mod Squad (1971) (TV series) - Perry Lerriko
  • The Governor & J.J. (1970) (TV series) - Mark Ellison
  • Matt Lincoln (1970) (TV series)
  • George M! (1970) (TV) - Jeremiah "Jerry" Cohan
  • The Andersonville Trial (1970) (TV) - Otis Baker


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ C'mon, Get Happy, p. 204
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ C'mon, Get Happy, p. 204-205
  5. ^ Shirley & Marty, p. 52
  6. ^ C'mon, Get Happy, p. 211-212
  7. ^ Jack Cassidy's IMDB biography
  8. ^ McGlone, Jackie (2007-03-24). "Still a daydreamer". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 

External links

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