David Cassidy

By: Adam McGovern
April 12, 2012

One morning in my first-grade classroom in Nineteen-Seventy-never-mind one of the girls asked for a show of hands of who “loved” DAVID CASSIDY (born 1950), and I was the only boy who joined in. I couldn’t have conceived of “love”-ing any of the other boys back then, but such is the spiritual currency of true stars, to be what is needed by whoever’s listening. A couple years later and one town over, the fictional Susie Salmon in Alice Sebold’s Lovely Bones has a David Bowie button dutifully emblazoning the outside of her bookbag but a David Cassidy one still pinned to the inside; in the fullness of time, though I made the same switch in adolescence, I’ve come to realize that Cassidy is the far gayer of the two, in sensibility I mean — that showbizzy zeal is the essence of the gotta-be-me Glee aesthetic that’s actually taken over while Bowie’s arty revolution remained largely for members only. Performers like that have several self-inventions but Cassidy has run through second, third and fourth lives, as teen idol, taken-seriously TV and stage actor, Vegas showman, novel-subject (Allison Pearson’s I Think I Love You) and mass-culture elder statesboy. A sense of humor as healthy as his ego and chops has kept him a going concern and a pleasure without guilt. Fans of a certain age will remember the tabloid-fueled Oedipal drama of a star dad whose fame he quickly eclipsed. But these days no one thinks of Cassidy as a celebrity’s kid because he’s that rarest of things you can’t plan: a born entertainer.


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Henry Darger and Herbie Hancock.

READ MORE about members of the Blank Generation (1944-53).

What do you think?

  1. Including Jack Cassidy, alas. My screen-idol newsstand-rag archives clearly hold that Jack was put out by David’s meteoric rise — pity, since the old man’s roguish classiness and sly menace was a genre apart from the younger’s glitzy exuberant conviction…

  2. Seems like we need to do a Jack Cassidy item one of these days. If so, can Shaun be far behind?

    PS: David C. was amazing on that episode of “Malcolm in the Middle” where the family goes to Vegas.

  3. Very nice, cogent summing-up. “Elder statesboy”: I especially like that.

    I remember it being discussed at the time that Jack was irked by David’s success. Whereas stepmom Shirley Jones was apparently just as proud of the kid as her face on “The Partridge Family” always told you she was.

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