David Cassidy had retired from touring earlier this year and revealed he was diagnosed with dementia.
The musician and actor, 67, who starred in TV’s The Partridge Family (1970 to 1974), died Tuesday night in Florida after being hospitalized with organ failure, according to a statement sent to USA TODAY by his representative Jo-Ann Geffen.
“On behalf of the entire Cassidy family, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, our uncle, and our dear brother, David Cassidy,” the statement said. “David died surrounded by those he loved, with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long. Thank you for the abundance of love and support you have shown him these many years.”
In February, Cassidy announced that he had been diagnosed with dementia. Just before sharing that news, he said he was retiring from touring.
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He acknowledged that a family history of dementia had haunted him because he watched his grandfather struggle with dementia and saw his mother “disappear” from it as well.
The decision to stop live performances was because “I want to focus on what I am, who I am and how I’ve been without any distractions,” he said at the time. “I want to love. I want to enjoy life.”
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Before the health announcement, Cassidy had largely kept a low profile, making headlines in recent years mostly with DUI cases. In March 2014, a judge in Los Angeles sentenced Cassidy to three months in rehab and five years of probation in a drunken-driving case. Later that year, the performer pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated in upstate New York. At the time, the sentence was expected to be a conditional discharge that would include community service in Florida, where he lived.
A child of Hollywood, he was the iconic teen idol of the 1970s. Before Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber, Zac Efron and the members of the 1980s Brat Pack, there was pop star Cassidy in his colorful polyester ensembles featuring giant collars and flared slacks. And while he did perform as a solo artist, he and The Partridge Family had a No. 1 hit with the catchy tune I Think I Love You in fall 1970. His biggest solo single was a version of Cherish, which peaked at No. 9 after its release in 1971.
“Musically, I never became what I thought I could become,” Cassidy lamented to USA TODAY in 2000, noting that his taste in music tended more toward Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon than vanilla pop. “I dreamed of some musical highs that I never quite achieved. But everybody has that stuff in their lives. If you’re mature, you deal with it.”
He was at peace with his place in teen fandom.
“I used to think of The Partridge Family as an albatross,” Cassidy told USA TODAY in 1993, while promoting the series’ resurrection on Nickelodeon’s Nick at Night lineup. “But it’s given me wings.”
He continued to add acting credits through the decades, appearing in television shows such as Fantasy Island, Malcolm in the Middle, Ruby & The Rockits and CSI, as well as the movie Popstar.
His father was actor Jack Cassidy, who suffered from bipolar disorder and alcoholism. The elder Cassidy died in a fire in 1976 when he fell asleep with a lit cigarette. His mother, actress Evelyn Ward, died in 2012.
Cassidy’s stepmother, Shirley Jones, was married to Jack for nearly two decades until they divorced in 1975. She co-starred with David in The Partridge Family, a musical sitcom based on a real family about a widow and her children who embark on a musical career as a band. He played the oldest son, Keith.
David, with his shaggy brown hair, and half-brother Shaun Cassidy (Jones’ oldest son with Jack), with a similar blond shaggy ‘do, dominated the covers of teen magazines during the era that preceded MTV and VH1. Shaun starred with Parker Stevenson in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977 to 1979).
Contributing: Maria Puente, Kim Willis, Donna Gable and Dennis Hunt