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The Partridge Family
The Partridge Family.jpg
Format Sitcom
Created by Bernard Slade
Starring Shirley Jones
David Cassidy
Danny Bonaduce
Susan Dey
Suzanne Crough
Jeremy Gelbwaks (1970–1971)
Brian Forster (1971–1974)
Dave Madden
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 96
Production
Producer(s) Bob Claver, Mel Swope
Running time 30 minutes per episode
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Original run September 25, 1970 – March 23, 1974

The Partridge Family is an American television sitcom about a widowed mother and her five children who embarked on a music career. The family lived in San Pueblo, a small fictional town in Northern California. The series was originally broadcast on ABC from 1970 to 1974.

Contents

History

In the pilot episode, a group of musical siblings convinces their mother to help them out by singing with them as they record a pop song in their garage. Through the efforts of the 10-year-old son Danny, they find a manager who helps make the song a Top-40 hit. After some more persuading, Mom finally agrees that the family can go on tour. They acquire an old school bus, paint it and depart to Las Vegas for their first live gig at Caesars Palace.

Each subsequent episode features the band performing in various venues. The shows would often contrast suburban life with the adventures of a show-biz family "on the road." After the first season the show focused more on the "at home" themes and less on their touring. The series originally ran from September 25, 1970 until August 30, 1974 on the ABC network, as part of a Friday night lineup following The Brady Bunch. It had subsequent runs in syndication.

Created by Bernard Slade, the series was inspired by and loosely based on The Cowsills[1], a real pop music family famous in the late Sixties. In fact, in its early development, the Cowsill children were actually approached by the producers to be featured on The Partridge Family, but the children rejected the offer when they learned their real-life mother and band member Barbara would not be included in the cast.[citation needed] Shirley Jones had already been signed as mother Shirley Partridge and star of the show.

The remaining 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. Dave Madden played Reuben Kincaid, who was their manager and family friend. According to David Cassidy, Jeremy Gelbwaks was at a very difficult stage of his childhood and was very obnoxious and hyperactive, running around making jet engine noises and crashing into cast and crew members. At the end of the first season, his family moved out of the Los Angeles area, and the part was recast with a blond child actor, Brian Forster.[2]

A dog named "Simone" was featured in the first season, but was phased out of production early in the second season.

The Partridge Family was produced for ABC by Screen Gems, which finished its run with The Monkees two years earlier, another show about a fictional (although they subsequently became a legitimate) musical group. 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.[3] Led by music producer Wes Farrell, a group of hired studio musicians (informally referred to as the Ron Hicklin Singers and Wrecking Crew) actually created the Partridge Family's sound. 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 well and was allowed to join the studio ensemble as the lead singer.[3] (Several songs were made without Cassidy as lead and were featured in some of the early episodes and on the first album.) He and Shirley Jones, who sang background, were the only cast members who were actually featured on the recordings. Though it was obvious to most viewers that the cast was lip-synching, the Partridge Family became an instant phenomenon, not only as a TV show but as a band that produced actual hit songs.[4]

As the show and other associated merchandising took off, David Cassidy became an overnight teen idol.[5] In response to his instant fame, producers quickly signed him as a solo act as well. Although the Partridge Family did not actually exist as a live band, Cassidy began touring with his own group of musicians, performing Partridge songs as well as hits from his own albums.

The Partridge Family's biggest hit came in 1970 with the song "I Think I Love You", which began climbing in September and peaked at Number 1 on the Billboard charts in December of that year. (The song was written by Tony Romeo, who had previously written several of the Cowsills' hits.) A companion LP, The Partridge Family Album, reached Number 4. Other Partridge singles, "I'll Meet You Halfway", "Doesn't Somebody Want To Be Wanted", and "I Woke Up in Love This Morning" would also chart high on Billboard. The theme songs "When We're Singing" and its successor "C'Mon, Get Happy", as well as album cuts "I Can Feel Your Heartbeat" and "Point Me In The Direction Of Albuquerque", also became popular favorites. Despite the "bubblegum pop" label and prefabricated nature of the "band," the Partridge Family's records sold very well.

Cast of The Partridge Family

In the midst of his overwhelming rise to fame, David Cassidy soon grew tired of the show.[6] In the summer of 1972, he gave a very candid interview to Rolling Stone magazine in which he attempted to distance himself from the squeaky-clean image of Keith Partridge. By the fourth season, due to Cassidy's looming departure and a decline in the ratings, an effort was made by the producers to breathe new life into the show[citation needed] by introducing a precocious 4-year-old neighbor named Ricky Stevens (Ricky Segall) to occasionally sing children's songs either with the band or at the Partridge home with Shirley on piano and Danny on guitar (He was even given his own album as a tie-in to the TV show; see discography below).[citation needed] Knowing it would not survive, ABC moved the show from its 8:30 P.M. Friday night slot to Saturday at 8:00 P.M., directly opposite the hit show All in the Family. After 96 episodes and ten Partridge Family albums, the show ended.

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). Shirley Jones and David Cassidy did not voice their animated counterparts, and Susan Dey and Dave Madden had very limited involvement with this cartoon. (In fact, 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.)[citation needed]

Though more popular in its time than its Friday night companion The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family did not become as widely circulated in syndicated reruns.[citation needed] Nickelodeon did feature a heavily-publicized run of The Partridge Family in the mid-90s as part of its Nick-At-Nite lineup. The network used interviews and commercials featuring cast members, and even created a new version of the Mondrian-esque Family bus for promotion. It was during this time that the "competition" element between the two shows was popularized with special features on Nick and MTV. The cast was also reunited around this period on the "Arsenio Hall Show" and "The Danny Bonaduce Show", both popular talk shows at the time. They were also featured on The E! True Hollywood Story, Biography and VH1's Behind The Music.

Band members

Introducing

  • Ricky Segall as Ricky Stevens (The Partridge Family's next door neighbor) : singer (1973–1974)

Guest stars

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

Country singer Johnny Cash made a cameo appearance in the pilot episode. Ray Bolger, who is best known for his role as the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, played Fred Renfrew, Shirley Partridge's father. 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.

Selected discography

DVD releases

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released all 4 Seasons of The Partridge Family in DVD Region 1.

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

References

  1. ^ C'mon, Get Happy, p. 51-52
  2. ^ C'mon, Get Happy, p. 87
  3. ^ a b C'mon, Get Happy, p. 56-60
  4. ^ C'mon, Get Happy, p. 65-67
  5. ^ C'mon, Get Happy, p. 68-73
  6. ^ C'mon, Get Happy, p. 92-95
  1. "The Partridge Family Album" by Joey Green, 1994 HarperCollins Publisher
  2. http://www.sonypictures.com/tv/shows/sgn/pf/
  3. http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/partridge_family/bio.jhtml

External links

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