Danny Bonaduce would often struggle with his lines, especially during the script readings. It turned out that he was dyslexic. However, he also had an eidetic memory, in which case, he would memorize his own lines as well as everyone else's. He stated that this would often get him on the bad side of his fellow cast members when he would correct them or state their lines for them when they couldn't remember.
The house in which the Partridges resided was a combination of a studio set for the interiors, and an exterior façade on the backlot at the Warner Brothers "Ranch" complex in Burbank. The exterior house was also used as Mrs. Kravitz's house on Bewitched (1964). During the first season of this show, and the last season of Bewitched (1964), both shows used the same exterior of the house as the residence for their respective characters. The house was also seen in Pleasantville (1998) as Margaret's house, and Life Goes On (1989) as the residence of the Thacher family. Over the years, it has been remodelled and painted different colors, but is still recognizable, the front step and the shape of the roof are giveaways.
During the original run of the series, all eight LPs released by The Partridge Family had paper-themed titles. In release order, they referred to a photo album, a calendar, a magazine, a Christmas card, a shopping bag, a notebook, a crossword puzzle, and a bulletin board.
Prior to getting the role of Shirley Partridge, Shirley Jones was one of the original choices to play Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch (1969). However, Jones refused the role because, as she put it, she didn't want to be known for "pulling a pot roast out of the oven every week", and at least with the role of Shirley Partridge, she would be portraying a working mother, which Carol was not. Interestingly, both shows ran back-to-back with each other on ABC's classic early 1970s Friday night line-up.
Originally, the show was to star the real-life musical family The Cowsills. However, they backed out when the producers decided to have Shirley Jones take over the role of the mother from the group's actual matriarch, Barbara Cowsill.
David Cassidy stated that when they recorded his voice during songs, they would record it at a quarter of a tone lower, and then play it back by raising it a quarter of a tone, thus making his voice sound higher than it really was. The intent was to make him sound more like a teenager; the result was, in Cassidy's words, like "they cut my balls off!"
Jeremy Gelbwaks was forced to leave after the first season, when his father's job took the family out of California. He was replaced by Brian Forster. According to Bernard Slade, ABC did not receive a single letter of complaint about the change.
Several songs credited to The Partridge Family charted. The first single, "I Think I Love You" went to number one, and sold over four million copies. Other hits included "I'll Meet You Halfway", "Doesn't Someone Want to Be Wanted", and "I Woke Up in Love This Morning".
During the first season, the theme song had a different arrangement, different lyrics and even a different title, "When We're Singing". However, during the second season, the more familiar arrangement of the theme song, with the more familiar title, "Come On Get Happy", was used, and remained the theme song throughout the run of the show.
When David Cassidy announced that he was leaving the show due to exhaustion, the producers came up with two different ideas to replace him. One was to have Rick Springfield take over the role, and another was to have Wesley Eure introduced as a next door neighbor who sang and replaced Keith in the group.
Many companies, especially Sony, were making a fortune off of David Cassidy and his image, and his contract didn't require them to pay him any royalties, nor even ask his permission. Even girls who paid money to join the David Cassidy fan club had no idea that their allowances were lining the pockets of people he didn't know, or authorize to use his name. He was only able to change the terms of his contract when his manager realized that he'd been nineteen when he signed. The legal age back then was twenty-one, thus making his initial contract null and void. His manager was finally able to renegotiate and give him a piece of the action, as well as a new weekly salary reflective of his star status. Initially, David Cassidy was only earning a flat salary of six hundred dollars per week.
Danny Bonaduce revealed many years later that during the run of the series, many people actually thought the kids played their own instruments, and thought that they should perform live. However, the only member of the cast to tour and perform was David Cassidy, who at the time, had a successful singing career in the U.S. and the UK.
The series was based on the real-life family group, The Cowsills. The children were interviewed by the producers, but it was decided that they were too old to play the parts as written for the television series.
The Patti Partridge doll was first introduced on the second season opener, "Dora, Dora, Dora". Tracy was shielding the doll's ears with her fingers to block out Dora's off-key warbling. The doll, although seen occasionally on several episodes before, was never seen again. According to Suzanne Crough, she kept the doll in her own personal collection.
The show was ranked in the top twenty in its first three seasons, but going into the fourth, it was plucked from its 8:30 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 7:30 p.m. Central, time slot on Friday, and packed off to Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 7 p.m. Central opposite the top-rated All in the Family (1971) on CBS. That move, coupled with an exhausted David Cassidy wanting to move on, led to ABC finally pulling the plug in late April 1974.
The occasional roles of Shirley's parent's Fred and Amanda Renfrew were played by Ray Bolger and Rosemary DeCamp. However, during the final season, the role of Grandpa Renfrew was taken over by Jackie Coogan and his name, with no explanation, was changed to Walter.
Susan Dey wasn't the producers first choice to play Laurie. Another person who was considered for the role was Olivia Newton-John. Ironically, years later when the film Grease (1978) was being cast, Dey was the producers first choice to play "Sandy" before they eventually went with Newton-John.
The character Ricky was added during the final season, as it was felt a new younger child among the cast would add a boost to the ratings. Due to the popularity of the Jackson Five, Michael in particular, producers considered casting an African-American child for the part of Ricky.
According to the 1970 TV Guide Fall Preview issue, the name of Shirley Jones' character was supposed to be Connie Partridge. This was probably for Connie Cowsill; who was a member of the group the Cowsills which the show is based on. It was obviously changed to Shirley to adhere and acquiesce to Shirley Jones' comfort level with the role.
Besides the singles, several albums credited to The Partridge Family also hit the charts, the highest charting of which was "The Partridge Family Christmas Card", which went to number one on the Billboard charts in 1971.
Long before the show started, Shirley Jones had known David Cassidy, when he was only six-years-old, as she was friends with his parents Evelyn Ward and Jack Cassidy. After Ward and the elder Cassidy had divorced, Cassidy wound up marrying Jones.
After Creating The Patridge Family, which was a huge hit show for Screen Gems and ABC, Bernie Slade's next big project was big another big TV hit; Bridget Loves Bernie; a sitcom about a whirlwind relationship between Catholic schoolteacher Meredith Baxter and Jewish cab driver David Birney. The show was extremely popular; it ranked number 5 for the 1972-1973 season. But unlike the Patridge Family which ran for many years Bridget Loves Bernie was short lived. It was very popular, airing in between Mary Tyler Moore Show and All in the Family, but also extremely controversial. Religious groups around the country picketed the interfaith show; so much so that CBS CEO William Paley personally decided to cancel it after bumping into many protesters on the street while on the way to work every morning.
Despite their best efforts the Brady Bunch was never able to compete with the Partridge Family; either as a musical group in terms of chart success; or overall in the ratings either. Although the Brady Bunch went on to become a cultural touchstone and a cult classic with a fervent fan following; with many more spin-offs; movies and reboot series.
In her autobiography Shirley Jones said she got along with most of her co-stars; but she did not get along with Dick Clark very well; or her onscreen father Ray Bolger. She said she did enjoy working with Jodie Foster though. She said everyone in the cast predicted Farrah Fawcett would become a big star; and she did; hitting with :"Charlie's Angels" just about two years after appearing on "The Partridge Family."
In the late 1970s both family acts and Variety Shows suddenly became very hot. ABC Television and Sid and Marty Kroft wanted to reboot the Patridge Family as a variety hour. David Cassidy and Shirley Jones passed; but the Brady Bunch were eventually offered this show which became the infamous "Brady Bunch Variety Hour."
Partridge Family star Susan Dey would team up with Eve Plumb from the Brady Bunch as well as Meredith Baxter Birney from Family (and later Family Ties), as well as Robert Young from Father Knows Best and William Shatner from Star Trek for the TV movie adaptation of Little Women. The TV movie was a big hit; it was a ratings winner and it won two Emmys.
Jan Brady and Laurie Partridge were sisters on television at one point. Eve Plumb, AKA Jan, played sister to a cast-member from her rival show, The Partridge Family, Susan Dey, in Little Women, the 1978 NBC mini series. Susan played Jo March, the hero and protagonist of the story, and Eve played her sister the tragic Beth March. Both actresses got good reviews for their performances and the TV movie was a ratings hit and won two Emmies for NBC.
Before she played Shirley Partridge on The Partridge Family, one of Shirley Jones' signature roles was Laurey, the lead ingenue in the 1955 blockbuster Oscar and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma. This is ironic because her daughter in Partridge family has essentially the same name. Susan Dey plays Laurie Partridge on this show; spelled "L-A-U-R-I-E" not "L-A-U-R-E-Y" like in Oklahoma; but it is pronounced the same.
Most of the cast, Shirley Jones, David Cassidy, Brian Forster and Danny Bonaduce, all appeared in a 1977 Thanksgiving Special where they performed again together. This was called the "My Three Sons Partridge Family Thanksgiving Reunion Special".
This show was loosely based on the true life story of the Cowsills, who were a family rock group in the late 1960s. The father and manager of the group, Bob Cowsill, forced the young brothers and sisters to let the mother, Connie, into the group, much to the kids' consternation. It worked as a publicity gimmick but the kids in the group reportedly hated singing hard rock songs like "Hair" with their mom; and hated the goody-two-shoes image the group got as a result of that; since they were trying to earn their cred as a legit acid/ alternative type band along the lines of Rolling Stones, Crosby Stills Nash or The Byrds. This is a far cry from the TV show scenario where the kids drag the mom into the group and she reluctantly agrees. Also; originally in the Partridge Family pilot script the mother's first name was Connie; like Connie Cowsill; but Shirley Jones' people demanded that it be changed to Shirley. And ABC's insistence to the Cowsills that Shirley Jones star as their mother is part of why they refused to participate in the tv show; and why the title was changed from "The Cowsills" to "The Partridge Family".
Though the critics slammed this show as being unrealistic:("How could such a young family of children form such a successful rock band?" they quipped); the truth was not too far from this TV-presented reality. The Cowsills, the group the Partridge Family was based on, had one member, Barbara Cowsill, that was only 7 when their first hit single came out," The Rain The Park and Other Things." Their mother Connie did in fact perform with the group; and the other members were mostly teenagers.
Shirley Partridge had a job as a bank teller before she fronted with her son for the Partridge Family, making her one of TV's first working moms. She wasn't the first, though, Lucy also had a job as a secretary at a Bank on The Lucy Show;(1962) also a show about a working mother. Maureen Robinson (June Lockhart) was a doctor on Lost in Space (1965); that means she was a working mother as well.