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Jack Cassidy Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (34)  | Personal Quotes (14)

Overview (4)

Born in Richmond Hill, New York, USA
Died in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (fire)
Birth NameJohn Joseph Edward Cassidy
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Actor. Jack Cassidy, by his own design, defied mere definition from the day he was born in Richmond Hills, New York in 1927 until his tragic death in 1976. An actor, singer, writer, designer - the consummate showman and irrefutable creative entity - his life never followed a simple path nor did it ever lead quite where expected. Yet, in the end, his impact on the entertainment community has been unmistakable - and unforgettable. The youngest of five children born to immigrant parents, Jack Cassidy's story is one of success and inspiration. By the time he was sixteen, he'd worked fifteen jobs ranging from busboy to dishwasher to ice truck driver. His uncle, a renowned circus contortionist, showed him the show business ropes and at the tender age of sixteen, Jack stepped into the chorus of "Something for the Boys". After that point, Jack's acting talent and rich baritone voice took him from show to show. He graced the stage in several productions before landing his first lead role in "Wish You Were Here" in 1953. The reviews were outstanding and his career started to flourish including the role of Johnny O'Sullivan in "Sandhog." The role of an Irish immigrant would hit close to home and would be one of his favorites. His life had also been enriched with his marriage to dancer-choreographer Evelyn Ward in 1948 and the birth of their son David in 1950. Evelyn and Jack had met while working on a show together and their wedding was attended by a who's-who of The Great White Way. Jack started to pepper his career with appearances not only on stage but on various television shows, sharing his talent with a broader audience. He made several appearances on "Toast of the Town" and "Lux Video Theatre" and also surfaced on episodes of "The United Steel Hour," "Richard Diamond, Private Detective" and "Gunsmoke." He would even have his own television show in Great Britain. His television presence would only grow over the next 20 years reflecting not only his career but his notoriety and prominence in the industry. In 1955, Jack was cast in a State Department European tour of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical "Oklahoma!" with a young actress named Shirley Jones. Legally separated from Evelyn, Jack pursued Shirley and after their first date in Paris, he declared his intent to marry her - which he did between performances of "The Beggar's Opera" in 1956. Their marriage would be blessed with the births of three sons: Shaun, Patrick and Ryan. All four of his sons would carry on Jack's legacy in their own way - each with critically acclaimed careers in theater, film and television. Jack and Shirley would collaborate in other ways, appearing together on Broadway in "Maggie Flynn" in 1968 (Jack would receive a Tony nomination for his portrayal of "Phineas"), recording a number of albums including "Love From Hollywood" and "Brigadoon" and touring with the nightclub act "The Marriage Band" which was created by Jack and inspired by their relationship. As the country transformed through the 1960s, Jack Cassidy's career blossomed in all respects. In the theater, he took home the Tony for Best Featured Actor in 1963 for "She Loves Me" and followed that with Tony nominations for his work in "Fade Out, Fade In," "It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman" and "Maggie Flynn" and is one of the most nominated actors in Tony history. The West Coast beckoned to him and Jack started to truly establish himself in television. Whether it was a brilliant dramatic performance on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents,", "77 Sunset Strip," "Coronet Blue," "Lock Up," "Maverick" or "Wagon Train," a dazzling musical performance on "The Bell Telephone Hour" or "The Gerry Moore Show" or a delightful comedic performance on "Bewitched" or "That Girl" - Jack was finally allowed to showcase his versatility and range to audiences unable to see him set foot on a stage. He even started his movie career in films such as "Look in Any Window", "The Chapman Report", "FBI Code 98" and the animated "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" in 1962. Often considered "larger than life" himself - even by co-stars Paula Prentiss and Richard Benjamin - Jack brought life to the character of Oscar North in the 1968 series "He & She" to the delight of both audiences and critics. His delivery of the classic "trapped in an elevator" routine has never been matched and his superior flair and uproarious comic timing would garner an Emmy nomination in 1969. His television presence would swell in the 1970s as he became a staple of both dramatic programs and game shows. Indeed it was nearly impossible to turn on the television and not see Jack's brilliant smile or hear his infectious laughter. He frequented "Columbo" and remains one of the more popular guest stars in the show's history. Other memorable performances include appearances in "Barnaby Jones," "Matt Helm," "McCloud," "Hawaii Five-O," "Alias Smith and Jones" and "Bonanza" as well as comedic interludes in "Love, American Style", "The Carol Burnett Show", "Laugh-In" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." His career expanded into the television movie genre with "Your Money or Your Wife," "George M!," "June Moon," and "The Phantom of Hollywood." Yet it was his depiction of attorney Otis Baker in "The Andersonville Trial" that again brought him an Emmy nomination and critical acclaim. Jack Cassidy's film career in the 1970s was filled with wonderful, quirky roles in films such as "Bunny O'Hare" with Bette Davis and Ernest Borgnine, the Clint Eastwood action-thriller "The Eiger Sanction", "The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County" with Mickey Rooney and his brilliant portrayal of the legendary John Barrymore in "W.C. Fields and Me". However, he craved the solid, dramatic roles where he could truly prove his abilities on a larger scale. Tragically, he had just started receiving these offers right before his death in 1976. Like the character he'd created on "He & She," Jack Cassidy was undeniably larger than life. His notorious sense of humor made him the life of the party from private gatherings to public charity galas. It is no surprise that his friends and fans read like a roster of Hollywood's top talent. Among them, Dick Van Dyke, Jack Lemmon and Dick Van Patton have counted themselves as admirers of his talent. Jack was the superlative example of the classic leading man with his charisma, dashing grin and sparkling eyes who conducted his life with nothing less than panache and style. His golden baritone voice will forever set him apart. His talent will never be matched. His wit and humor warm the memories of the friends and family he left behind. He was a creative powerhouse who was denied the time necessary to fully express the full spectrum of his talents - some of which are only now revealed through the talent and success of his sons in many facets of the industry. Despite the brilliance of his career, he had only started to tap into the expanse of his potential. It was a life cut short and a life that deserves to be celebrated

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Michele Montour

Spouse (2)

Shirley Jones (5 August 1956 - 26 May 1975) ( divorced) ( 3 children)
Evelyn Ward (28 June 1948 - 2 July 1956) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trivia (34)

One of the most Tony-nominated musical actors in Broadway history.
Received help entering show business from a family member who was a contortionist in the circus.
He died when his couch, and subsequently apartment, caught fire after he fell asleep on it with a lit cigarette.
Turned down the role of Ted Baxter on Mary Tyler Moore (1970), but did guest star as Ted Baxter's brother.
Worked as a bell hop, counterman, dishwasher, chauffer, clothing salesman, postal clerk, hotel clerk, stable boy, coal and ice truck handler before getting his big break.
His idol was John Barrymore, whom he played in W.C. Fields and Me (1976).
While researching his Irish ancestry, he discovered his family's crest. He had 6 gold pinky rings made bearing the crest, and gave one to each of his 4 sons and one to his brother. His own ring helped authorities identify his remains. It was later stolen from his son, Patrick Cassidy's house.
Wrote a play, "A Waltz for Willie Ryan".
Father, with Evelyn Ward of son David Cassidy. Father, with Shirley Jones, of sons Shaun Cassidy, Ryan Cassidy and Patrick Cassidy.
Won Broadway's 1964 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Musical) for "She Loves Me". This was followed with three other Tony nominations in the same category: in 1965 for "Fade Out -- Fade In," and as Best Actor (Musical) in 1966 for "It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman!" and in 1969 for "Maggie Flynn.".
On June 24, 2005, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced he would receive a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for live theatre.
The 4th floor penthouse where he died is located at 1221 North Kings Road, West Hollywood.
Portrayed by Malcolm McDowell in The David Cassidy Story (2000).
He was nominated for a 1976 Joseph Jefferson Award for Director of a Play for "Wait Until Dark", at the Drury Lane Theatre North in Chicago, Illinois.
Born to William Cassidy, who was of Irish descent, and Charlotte Koehler, who was of German descent.
His father, William Cassidy, was a railroad engineer.
Graduated from Richmond Hill High School. Took singing lessons with Polly Robertson and was mentored by his uncle, Ben Dova, a former vaudevillian, who organised auditions for him. Jack first appeared, on stage, in the chorus of Mike Todd's "Something For the Boys" in 1943.
In the March 15, 1965 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962) episode, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Photographer and the Undertaker (1965), he played a hit man who disposes of the victim's body by setting fire to his apartment, which was the scene of the murder. This was an attempt to conceal the murder and have the authorities believe that he was the deceased. He later died in a fire, at his home, on December 12, 1976 and was so badly burned that he could only be identified by the unique ring he was wearing.
In December 1974, Cassidy was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility for 48 hours. At that time, Jones found out that he had been previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Cassidy won the 1964 Tony Award for best featured actor in a musical for his role in She Loves Me and 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).
In 1974, his neighbors were shocked to see him watering his front lawn naked in the middle of the afternoon. Cassidy's second wife Shirley Jones described a similar incident when she found him sitting naked in a corner, 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".[.
David Cassidy also claimed that his father was bisexual, citing attributed personal accounts and reports, both anecdotal and published, of his father's same-sex affairs, a fact neither he nor his siblings discovered until after Cassidy's death. In her 2013 memoir, Shirley Jones confirms that Cassidy had many same-sex affairs, including one with Cole Porter.
The role of the vain, shallow, buffoon-like newsman Ted Baxter on TV's The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) was reportedly written with Cassidy in mind. Although Cassidy had played a similar buffoonish character in the 1967-68 sitcom He & She, he turned down the role, feeling that it was not right for him; the part went to Ted Knight.
In his 1994 autobiography, C'Mon, Get Happy, Cassidy's eldest son David wrote that he became increasingly concerned about his father in the last years of his life. Jack Cassidy suffered from bipolar disorder and was an alcoholic, who was displaying increasingly erratic behavior.
Cassidy was approved for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005, and fund raising efforts are currently underway to fund the dedication ceremony.
According to Cassidy's ex-wife Shirley Jones, on December 11, 1976, Cassidy asked her over for drinks but she declined his invitation. He then ate dinner alone at an Italian restaurant. Cassidy returned to his apartment by himself, by which time he was drunk. In the early morning hours of December 12, Cassidy lit a cigarette and fell asleep on his Naugahyde couch. He then dropped the cigarette, which ignited the couch. The flames quickly spread throughout the apartment and the building.
His remains were cremated and his ashes are scattered on the Pacific Ocean.
A charred body, burned beyond recognition, was found in the doorway of Cassidy's apartment. As Cassidy's car was missing (it was later returned by a friend who had borrowed it), his family hoped that he had traveled to Palm Springs, which were his intended plans for the following day bur the body was then positively identified as Cassidy's by dental records and by a signet ring that he wore, bearing the Cassidy family crest.
Along with Patrick McGoohan, Robert Culp, George Hamilton and William Shatner, he is one of only five actors to play two or more murderers in Columbo (1971): Ken Franklin in Columbo: Murder by the Book (1971), Riley Greenleaf in Columbo: Publish or Perish (1974) and Columbo: Now You See Him (1976).
Made his Broadway debut at the age of 16 in the chorus of Cole Porter's "Something For The Boys.".
Mother Charlotte was from Hamburg, Germany.
Father-in-law of Tracey Lynne Turner, and Melissa Hurley. Former father-in-law of Ann Pennington, Sue Shifrin, Kay Lenz, and Susan Diol.
Shirley Jones freely admitted to not being able to deal with Jack's bipolar disorder. They divorced in 1975.

Personal Quotes (14)

Anyway, in Paris, we were thrown together. We'd said we wouldn't see each other any more. But how can you not see each other when you are kissing each other every night on the stage every night? We came back and I asked my wife for a divorce which wasn't the first time...
The rewards of comedy are instant. I have no desire to look out into an audience to see if there are any tears.
I work fast because of the many years of machination when I try to come up with a performance quickly or otherwise somebody was waiting in the wings to replace me. There was no time for all of that (Actor's) workshop approach.
Daytime TV and talk shows also helped me. I am fascinating on all those programs. Full of witty remarks and sly innuendo which I have been preparing all day. Anyway, the ladies love it, and when I tour in a play or musical I do quite well at the box office.
When we reconciled after our other split, I begged her to let us move to a more stable area. But she insisted Beverly Hills schooling was important for the boys. Hell, what about their sense of values. At age 17 Shaun is the owner of a 71 Cadillac convertible.
Christ and the Bible have helped me muddle through the past year. In a way I have become a bit of a recluse and loner. I don't go to parties much anymore. You see, I have been that route. I'm looking for something more.
If I would have stayed with Evelyn [Evelyn Ward], my son, David [David Cassidy], might have turned out better. I wanted to raise him but she wouldn't give him up. That's all right. I don't care if David doesn't want to see me. I have three other sons who still love their father.
You're all rank amateurs when it comes to losing. How about this for a case history? There was a time when an actor friend of mine and I were both starving, waiting for a Broadway break. All of a sudden he got a job in 'Oklahoma!' and stayed with the show for the full seven years of its Broadway run. During that time I was in 15 different shows, nearly all of them flops. I'll say one thing for flops though, you learn from them in a way you never learn from winners. So in a way I am grateful for them.
I'd say the breakup was my fault. We toured together and I had a nervous breakdown.
We try to do as many things as we can that keeps up with the children. If one of us is away, the other is usually at home. I'm a very strict father, but affectionate also. I was raised strictly and I can't shed it. I care about discipline and I think boys need it. That's what's wrong with a lot of kids today; they don't get it. I tell the boys, I can let you go your own way but that ain't love.
The way I look has categorized me. Producers think I can't play a tough character, but I can. The trouble is I don't mess up easily. Even when I don't shave, even when I wear a beard, I still look neat.
We had an apartment in New York but I like living in a house. I put a lot of energy and brickwork into it. We want to buy a farm or a ranch where I can grow some produce and probably have some cattle, get drunk every night and listen to the wind.
Water is humbling. The ocean is a wonderful contradiction of ultimate peace and overwhelming power. It's the vast liquid expanse that makes you feel small.
[on his divorce from Shirley Jones] Oh, I still love Shirley. If I had worked on the marriage, we wouldn't be divorced today. Then, too, Shirley needed to be needed. She felt I wanted her rather than needed her. I wish we hadn't divorced. But when I think of getting together again, I don't have a clue about how to bring about a reconciliation. She's dating someone now and I wouldn't dream of intruding.

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