- The Washington Times - Monday, September 4, 2000

PASADENA, Calif. He may have been the sacred calf of the '70s, but David Cassidy insists it is much better to be part of the herd.

Mr. Cassidy was hurled to fame by the smash TV show "The Partridge Family." He plummeted from a teen idol to a booze-bedazzled veteran in just 12 years, however.

"Talent survives, but the people may not," he says over lunch in a quiet restaurant here. "I've seen so many people self-destruct and at the time in 1986 I was in the darkest, most unhappy, most unhealthy [place]. I'd just gotten out of a divorce. I was broke. I was almost a million dollars in debt. I'd left all my personal belongings everything I owned except for what I could carry with my ex-wife."

He now is a headlining performer in "At the Copa," a show he executive-produces and stars in at the Rio Casino Resort in Las Vegas. He also is the creator of "The Rat Pack Is Back!" which is playing at the Sahara in Vegas. Mr. Cassidy has resurfaced in full force.

But his 268-mile journey from Hollywood to Las Vegas makes Marco Polo's look like a Sunday walk.

"That kind of life is not what it's cracked up to be," he says of the celebrity flush following "The Partridge Family. "A lot of people aspire to that, and I can only tell them it ain't all that it appears. It was pretty sudden. In those days, network TV was the only thing in town."

The fame brought with it money, power and overindulgence.

"I was never a drug addict," he says, placing his fork down. "I was just into excessive, self-destructive behavior, and I'm not alone. It was everywhere, all the time.

"There were a lot of very excessively wealthy, self-destructive people that were around me that were taking the ride with me. And famous ones, too," he says.

Mr. Cassidy, 50, says he was aware that the troupes of women he attracted were not there because of his sweet character or jolly personality.

"I didn't mind hanging out with people like that," he says, shaking his head. "But I knew with women I knew. But that didn't matter to me. I actually preferred it. I didn't have to get involved. 'You don't really want me, you want this. OK, it works for me tonight.' "

But it didn't work forever. Two sour marriages, a daughter out of wedlock, no work, no money and no possibilities greeted Mr. Cassidy when he woke up in the apartment of his best friend's sister and looked back on what had happened.

• • •

He had been an eager fledgling when, just two weeks out of high school, he had auditioned seven times for theater great George Abbott before he snagged a job.

Working in the mail room of the Deering-Miliken Textile Factory, Mr. Cassidy gave up the chance to screen test for a Hollywood TV show to do the play.

But the play closed in three weeks. "I called and said, 'My show closed.' And [the agent] said, 'I'm sending you a plane. I want you out here now.'

"I was 18 and looked 14. It was the part of a college student. I was good, but I was way too young. They cast an actor by the name of M.K. Douglas. Michael Douglas. He was 20 and looked 18 or 19."

Still, Mr. Cassidy, who was the son of actor Jack Cassidy and actress Evelyn Ward, started lining up TV gigs in such shows as "Marcus Welby, M.D.," "Bonanza" and "The Mod Squad."

When "The Partridge Family" in which Mr. Cassidy was cast with his stepmother, Shirley Jones arrived, no one predicted its massive popularity.

During the hysteria that followed, Mr. Cassidy met his current wife, Sue, on a trip to England.

"We met originally in 1973 and dated then. She lived there. Then we didn't see each other for 13 years, then we dated."

It was a series of hurdles that brought Mr. Cassidy back from the purgatory he had designed for himself. Through a friend, he managed to rent a 12-year-old Chevy for $100 a month; he continued to live in the apartment of his friend's sister; and he began to run.

"Running became very therapeutic for me … ," he says.

A chance meeting with an agent in a restaurant offered Mr. Cassidy the chance to perform with Laurence Olivier in London.

"I got on an airplane and was there for seven months and paid back all the debt … . I had a lot of confidence in myself and my work. It bailed me out. From that, I went and made a record. I had a hit record, and got a publishing deal."

When he returned to the States, he starred with his half-brother, Sean, in the play, "Blood Brothers," a successful turn that stunned the show-business community.

After that, he took over the Michael Crawford role in the Vegas extravaganza, "EFX."

Today, Mr. Cassidy throws down one last gulp of water and rushes to catch a plane back to Las Vegas, where he appears nightly in "At the Copa" with Sheena Easton.

"I've had a chance to really evaluate it," he says of his life so far. " … I feel very fortunate. The highs have been incredibly high, and the lows have been really pretty low."

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