If you’re looking for sleaze,” David Cassidy piously warns us in his new autobiography, C’mon, Get Happy…Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus, ”for a list of celebrities I’ve slept with, you can put the book back on the shelf.”
Okay, so he does tell you about the day Gina Lollobrigida photographed him in bed with $200 worth of grapes and bananas draped on his naked groin. And he does dish about his dalliances with Meredith Baxter, with Susan Dey, whom he rejected in bed (”Susan lacked the slutty aspect of a female that I always found so attractive”), and with ”three sexually incredible Dutch stewardesses” who were provided with his private jet.
Cassidy also admits to using heroin, Quaaludes, cocaine, LSD, speed, Seconal, and Barbara the Butter Queen, an alleged groupie in Dallas. He even confesses the peccadilloes of his character-actor dad, Jack Cassidy, who died in 1976 and can’t confess himself. David says Jack was a rotten, alcoholic father who cheated on David’s beloved stepmother (and TV mom), Shirley Jones, dissed his son’s success, smooched an appalled Jack Klugman in a crowded movie-studio elevator, and jumped Cole Porter’s bones, partly to advance a career that was less than stellar. When David recalls how his dad turned down the Ted Baxter role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show — Jack’s one shot at true fame — a gloating tone creeps into his voice.
The sad fact is that sleaze is the only conceivable reason to read the memoirs of David Cassidy. Granted, Cassidy effected a giant bubblegum-pop explosion on TV and on tour. He was better than Bobby Sherman, but much worse than the Monkees, the Osmonds, the Jacksons, the Cowsills, even the Archies. He was admittedly great in the sense of largeness — he broke one of the Stones’ records for consecutive concerts, his 1970 debut single, ”I Think I Love You” reached No. 1, and he had a more radiant epicene beauty than Paul McCartney. But the contempt Cassidy and his superb sidemen felt for the music they were making was appropriate. Keyboardist Larry Knechtel actually began laughing while tinkling out the ridiculous ”I Think I Love You” harpsichord solo, and the giggling had to be edited out.
Yet when Cassidy insists this isn’t ”a Hollywood kiss-and-tell book,” he’s right. C’mon, Get Happy is really a David Cassidy fanzine article authored by the ultimate fan. One of his favorite ’70s fanzine essays was entitled ”Would You Like to Know When I Was Born, How Old I Am, My Coloring — and All My Measurements?” His own tome lays it all on the line. His cowriter, Entertainment Weekly contributor Chip Deffaa, does an able job of buffing his prose, but the book would have been far better presented as a fanzine parody:
Q:David, how many girls per week woke up in love and wrote a letter to your fanzines?
A:As many as 25,000.
Q:What happened to their letters?
A:[The publisher] simply burned most of [them] — after first recording names and addresses so they could be added to mailing lists.
Q:What’s the funniest thing a fan ever wrote to request?
A:One of the gallstones I’d passed.
Q:If a girl’s dream came true, what happened back at your place?
A:I found I could tell them to get down on their knees and bark like a dog or act like a choo-choo train, and they’d do it gladly.
Q:How much did you earn between 1970 and ’74?
A:About $8 million.
Q:How much did you have left after ending your second marriage in 1986?
A:Less than a thousand.
Q:Good. What have you done lately?
A:The theme song for The John Larroquette Show. Incidentally, although The John Larroquette Show is written and produced by a friend of mine, I didn’t get that gig out of friendship.
The book needs a better title, too — say, the name he made up for a group with which he was hoping to make an album, Squeaky Clean and the Dirty All-Night Boys. As it stands, C’mon, Get Happy is the straightforward testament of a has-been who never really was. I think I don’t love him. C