Danny Tyree: Come On, Get Happy: The Partridge Family at 50
Realizing that Sept. 25 marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere of “The Partridge Family,” I am reminded that time moves more swiftly than a 45 RPM turntable.
It seems like only yesterday that I was a fifth-grader and my mother was teasing me because 10-year-old Danny Partridge (played by Danny Bonaduce) was in love.
In the blink of an eye, it’s 2020 and I feel compelled to sing, “I woke up in Depends this morning/ I woke up in Depends this morning/ Went to sleep with Hot Wheels on my mind…”
So much water has gone under the bridge, I honestly can’t remember if I had a crush on Susan Dey as Laurie Partridge; but when I later watched Dey as deputy district attorney Grace Van Owen on “L.A. Law,” I kept thinking some defendant would growl, “I’m pleading the fifth – unless you put on your Laurie braces! Rrrroooww!”
Unless you were alive back then, it’s hard to explain the mass hysteria that greeted songs such as “I Think I Love You” and “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted?” (“Speak for yourself,” interjects Bruno the local mechanic. “I IDENTIFY as an 11-year-old girl from 1970.” Uh, good to know. I hope you’ll be using a wrench instead of a Kenner Easy Bake Oven on my car next time, Bruno.)
When I commemorate the anniversaries of cultural milestones, I often fall back on the cliché of yearning for “simpler times.”
But even comfortably nestled between “Nanny and the Professor” and “That Girl” on ABC’s Friday night schedule, “The Partridge Family” was just a brief respite in tumultuous times. It was a world where teenage girls could vie to “Win a date with David Cassidy” while their older brothers could just as easily “Win a date at the Hanoi Hilton.”
The ”simpler times” theme also got tested when – half-way through the show’s run – David Cassidy wearied of his squeaky-clean image and posed nude for the cover of the May 1972 “Rolling Stone” magazine. (I cannot verify rumors that Cassidy first tried posing for Norman Rockwell, who ran away screaming, “Noooo…it’s like that ‘Saturday Evening Post’ session with the G.I. model peeling off his undergarments while peeling potatoes with his mother, all over again! I quit!”)
Musical snobs looked down on the show because the actors only pretended to play musical instruments and only matriarch Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones) and oldest son Keith (Cassidy) actually sang on the show or the soundtrack albums.
Of course, those critics are the same purists who would probably have BLED OUT while confusing actor Robert Young with character Marcus Welby, M.D. (“Come on – you can fix this protruding femur AND my broken marriage before the first commercial!”)
I am tickled that our local radio station (WJJM in Lewisburg, Tennessee) isn’t embarrassed to showcase upbeat oldies acts such as The Partridge Family and The Jackson 5. Most “classic rock” stations don’t say “Come on, get happy.” They say, “Come on, relive that phase when you had a dead-end job and the Mayo Clinic named STDs after you.”
Whoa… “Nanny and the Professor”! Now I remember my Juliet Mills crush! Oops… I think I laid a big Partridge Family opening credits EGG!
I wish I had Partridge manager Reuben Kincaid patching up things with my wife.
Honey, I think I love…sleeping on the couch. *Sigh*
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”