David Cassidy Reveals Dementia Diagnosis

People Magazine reports:

David Cassidy is battling dementia. The 66-year-old actor, widely known for his starring role as Keith Partridge on the 1970s series The Partridge Family, reveals to PEOPLE that he is fighting the memory loss disease. Cassidy, who watched his grandfather battle the disease and witnessed his mother “disappear” into dementia until she died at age 89, tells PEOPLE of his diagnosis: “I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming.”

Cassidy’s revelation follows a roller coaster of personal ups and downs that the actor has faced in the past decade, including a show in Agoura Hills, California, this past weekend where Cassidy repeatedly struggled to remember lyrics to songs he had been singing for nearly 50 years. In November 2010, he was charged with a DUI and was subsequently charged with the same offense in August 2013 and January 2014. A month after his third arrest, his wife, Sue Shifrin-Cassidy, filed for divorce.

  • HZ81

    That’s awful. Poor guy.

  • WitlessProtection

    I saw this on the news last night. Nothing makes you feel old like hearing Keith Partridge has dementia…

    • Todd20036

      I had a pre-gay crush on him, too

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    • Paul

      Ain’t that the truth. I remember my father, born in 1922, visibly shaken when he saw a photo and read of Rita Hayworth’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Apparently dad had a thing for Rita during WWII. Anyway, he was not one to share his emotions, but he told me that, for the first time, this was the thing that made him feel old. Now, at 59, I’m feeling the same way. And yeah, I really had a thing for David in the 1970s.

      • That_Looks_Delicious

        Lots of GIs had the hots for Rita. She was the original pin-up girl, decades before the famous Farah Fawcett red bathing suit poster, (or in my case, the Bowflex poster with Scott Madsen…. remember that?)

    • TampaZeke

      My thoughts exactly! I find myself watching some of my favorite shows from the 60’s and 70’s and counting all of the actors that are dead. It makes me feel so old and so mortal. Very depressing.

      Somehow finding out that a boyhood crush has dementia just takes that to another level of depressing, especially since my dad is in late stages of Alzheimer’s.

      • Goodboy

        Robin Williams had it too and contributed to his suicide.

      • JCF


        My dad’s still early days (“Mild Cognitive Impairment”), but I know where this is going…

  • Todd20036

    Saw this happen to my grandmother. Towards the end she didn’t even know where or who she was.
    She basically turned into a baby, with the body of an old woman.
    She made it to her late 70s.
    To be in late-middle age and realize that you can’t remember basic stuff you typically know day to day… shit.

  • Kevin Perez

    Peace be with him.

  • LovesIrony

    If all the money and energy spent fighting same sex marriage and treating us equally were used to research and fight ailments such as this we would be a lot closer to developing cures.

    • NancyP

      Not necessarily. The brain is complex and dementia is a symptom with many causes. Some causes could be reduced with a public health campaign eg, hypertensive strokes are often preventable with good blood pressure management. Alzheimer’s dementia is poorly understood, and it will be decades before any specific drug is truly effective as a “status quo” maintainer, let alone a reverser of symptoms. Lay people over-estimate the ease of research, and scientists often offer undue hope.
      So, go for what can be done now.
      Control diabetes and hypertension.

      • another_steve

        I read an interesting piece somewhere (sorry, I can’t recall on what site) that made the case that there’s most likely a maximum lifespan for human beings that all our research and all our medicines and all our interventions will never be able to lengthen. It’s simply a human DNA/genetic internal program that starts shutting off our bodies at certain intervals.

        We can keep the parts (brain included) healthy up to a point (diet, exercise), but when your clock’s up, it’s up.

        Sixty-six years old, as in David Cassidy’s case, is a bit early but early onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s is a thing. Not common, but out there.

        Seize the day, all of you reading here.

        • Goodboy

          Love to say that you’re wrong but I see it in my own family. Almost like a switch gets pushed one day and just like that time to call it in. For the men it’s usually mid 70s and women 80.

        • Goodboy

          Love to say that you’re wrong but I see it in my own family. Almost like a switch gets pushed one day and just like that it’s time to call it in. For the men it’s usually mid 70s and women 80.

      • Câl

        From the latest research that I have seen, one of the main things we can do to protect ourselves is to sleep well. During sleep the brain is cleared of some of the chemicals that eventually build up into the plaques that cause certain types of dementia. Purely anecdotally but famous people who have died with dementia like Margaret Thatcher and Reagan both got by on very little sleep during their working lives! How much we can do about any damage our younger selves have done is not yet known.

      • LovesIrony

        My mother is currently living with vascular dementia. My brother and I met with her doctor in May, she told us about a new medication that has shown improvement in some patients and nothing in others, and that we would know fairly quickly whether it was helping. We agreed to give it a try. The results were quick and substantial, My mom still forgets where she is but when told she understands.
        The brain is indeed complex and there are numerous forms of dementia but that should not stop us from progress on this horrible way to live and die.
        Surely you would agree that boxcar tony’s and brian brownshirts’ salary would serve the world better being spent on researchers, lab techs and equipment, as well as scholarships. Who knows? perhaps the money spent busing a few dozen to a hate rally if spent buying lab supplies inspires the next Dr. Salk, Currie, or Clinch.
        With the wave of the population that believes we deserve to be treated equal coming, In my opinion it is waste of time to and effort to deny us equal treatment. It is not a waste of time to defend our rights and push for our rights, but imagine if we didn’t have to. Any dime spent on hate would be better spent on love.

        • stuckinthewoods

          What is the name of the medication that helped your mother? I’m fairly sure the person I’m in charge of now has Alzheimers rather than vascular, but I’d be interested to know of any advances.

          • LovesIrony

            I honestly don’t remember its name, sorry. next time I talk to my brother or sister in law I’ll get it for you.

          • Goodboy

            Yeah, I’m asking the same thing.

        • Goodboy

          My Mom’s dementia started 6 years ago and has progressed to the point where she can’t even talk anymore. She’s lost 70% of her brain function. This has taken me by shock.

  • Fifth-and-a-Half Element

    My father passed away last month at 84 after suffering from dementia for two years. There is no quality of life with that disease. I can’t even imagine what he’ll go through at such a young age.

    • Octoberfurst

      You have my condolences. My mother has had Alzheimer’s for the past 10 yrs. (She’s 84.) I watched how it stripped her memory away year after year. It started out with her being forgetful. Then she couldn’t remember conversations that took place 5 minute prior. Then she forgot her past. Now she is in a nursing home and doesn’t remember any of us. You can’t even converse with her. She just babbles. She has no quality of life. She just exists. It makes me very sad. I can’t tell you how much I hate that disease. I miss the mom I knew. She was a bright, active women who was smart as a whip.
      The funny thing is that she did everything right. She exercised every day, loved to work on crossword puzzles, ate right. She did what she was supposed to to avoid the disease but she got it anyway. 🙁

      • TuuxKabin

        {{{{{{x100}}}}}} to you, family, mom and everyone who loves her.

        • Octoberfurst

          Thank you!

      • Derrick Johns

        Octoberfurst, I wish/pray you and your family the best that life can offer.

      • Fifth-and-a-Half Element

        That’s the most difficult thing about neurological disease…it slowly robs you of the person you knew and love. My father knew every now and then that something was wrong, but toward the end he was just no longer my dad.

        • Octoberfurst

          My mom knew that something was wrong in the beginning. She would say things like, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. My memory has been so terrible lately.” Then she forgot that she was forgetful and it was downhill after that. The person I see now at the nursing home is not the mom I knew. She is just a shell of her former self. Death will be blessed release for her.

    • TuuxKabin

      My condolences. No quality with that disease is so true. Especially on loved ones witnessing the gradual loss. And the staff who work with people who have such diagnoses. Having worked in long term care for over thirty years, it was always rewarding to be in work shops with the support staff who cared for the residents and assisted their families. For those of us in the non-resident contact departments, we were still required to go to a twice a year group workshop for support and understanding. Sorry to be long winded, you loss and grief is still recent. Peace.

      • Fifth-and-a-Half Element

        Thank you…the caregivers in his county facility the final few months were outstanding.

  • The Professor

    Sad. I think I loved him…

  • JoeMyGod
  • JoeMyGod
  • JoeMyGod
    • narutomania

      JoeMyGod, how I loved that show.

  • JoeMyGod
  • JoeMyGod
  • Tomcat

    Dementia could be a plus while Trump is president.

    • Derrick Johns

      What? Do you mean for him or for us?

  • Bj Lincoln

    So many great songs. Thanks Joe for posting all the videos. When I was supposed to be ‘boy crazy’ David Cassidy was just below Donny Osmond and above Davey Jones. I made sure I had my chores done and was ready for bed so I could plant myself in front of the TV and not miss a note. Thing was I was more in love with Shirley Jones than anything. She was and is beautiful. I scanned the magazines for pictures of her. I never told my friends about the feelings I was having or that I really liked Marie Osmond better than Donny. What a shame he must suffer like this. I worked in a nursing home and saw what this disease does to people and their family.

  • Ernest Endevor

    Poor man. Good for him for going public. But I had no idea that Shirley Jones had dementia. Unless she wasn’t his mother?

    • Mike in NC

      Shirley Jones is his stepmother (married to his father, Jack Cassidy) and the mother of his half-brother Shaun Cassidy. His mother was Evelyn Ward.

      • Ernest Endevor

        I did not know that. It puts to rest an unpleasant story.

  • Chucktech

    Very sad. What a cruel disease this is.

    O/T: The video above is labeled “Ex-Teen Idol…”
    I know this is nit picking, but it just bugs the shit out of me that, in this example, he is called “Ex-Teen Idol.” No, he’s a former teen idol. Just as Obama and Moron are former presidents. Nixon is an ex-president, and Sarah Palin is an ex governor.

    • Adam King

      Palin is an ex-half-governor.

    • Paul

      I seem to remember former president Harry S Truman making the same distinction.

  • Do Something Nice

    I never understood the adoration of him. I’m sorry he is suffering this horrible disease.

    • Gay Fordham Prep Grad

      It’s not so much of him, it’s what he represents, the era and our lost youth. I remember all the girls had pictures of him on their school notebooks. Also, in the era of three TV channels, either you were watching the Friday night ABC line up, or sitting in the kitchen watching your mom wash dishes.

      When a teen idol dies or comes down with an “old people’s disease,” it’s a collective punch in the gut to the “tail end” boomers.

      • stuckinthewoods

        We earlier boomers have been dealing with that for a while. I remember how I felt when the movie “Gidget Gets Menopause” came out.

  • jaydee5000

    I was madly in love with David as a teenager, and my father in law died of dementia at 95, so I’m very sad with his news. I’m equally sad David has it at 66. His honesty is brave and appreciated, Life isn’t fair. “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. This is what Fiction means.” – Oscar Wilde

  • narutomania

    I have precisely two fears in life: the first is suffering some kind of stroke or accident that leaves my body paralyzed while I am trapped inside a healthy mind, and the second is sinking slowly into dementia, realizing that all my memories are slipping away from me into oblivion.

    I feel bad for David. I hope he has good family and friends around to help him when he needs it most.

    • Octoberfurst

      That is my greatest fear too! I can’t imagine being paralyzed and having someone have to take care of me like I’m an infant. I also fear losing my memory and becoming almost a vegetable. Frankly if I found out I had Alzheimer’s I think I would end it all. Go to Oregon and be euthanized. Same if I ended up paralyzed from the neck down. I’d want that cocktail. I refuse to end up helpless. I don’t want to just exist.

      • TuuxKabin

        Establish some contacts in Oregon, Octoberfurst. My understanding is the law is for state residents. We’ll be out there shortly and will certainly look into it. Meanwhile I’ll search the ‘rules and regulations’ concerning their euthanasia law. Be right back.

        • Octoberfurst

          Thank you!

      • McSwagg

        Oregon isn’t the only state with a euthanasia law. Investigate them all as another state may be a better option for you.

  • Mark

    IF we got to pick and choose….these types of brain diseases scare the ever-living-loving shit out of me more than anything else. It’s one of those ‘don’t know you lost it till you need it’ conditions – and every morning (after coffee!) I find myself doing the Lt. Commander Data ‘system check’ on my mental circuits hoping nothing went horribly astray in the night. But it’s like those tiny little pecker gnats that anonymously and discretely eat another hole in your slab of cheese. It’s such a tiny, tiny whole it’s never noticed. And then, one day……swiss.

    It’s my brain. It’s who i am. It’s everything I am. And if everything I am is getting eaten by some invisible pecker gnat….how the hell do you fight it?


    • WitlessProtection

      The insidious thing about this disease is that it is not hard on the person with it, it is hardest on their loved ones. My grandmother had it and she was fine up until my grandfather died, then she just lost it in a matter of MONTHS. I was sitting right next to her at Christmas that year and she looked over at me and asked who I was. I told her who I was and was very taken aback. I told my dad and he just shook his head, they all knew how bad she had gotten but had kind of kept it from all of adult kids. The only person she consistently recognized was my Uncle Jeff, but she kept calling him Roy, my grandfather. My point is that to her it didn’t matter, she just kept on going about her life, it tore the rest of us up. I realized that maybe Alzheimer’s is kind of a defense mechanism. I noticed that my grandmother thought she was in her late 20’s. early 30’s and had lost her sense of mortality. She no longer had that fear of being in her late 80’s and all the slings and associated arrows. She was generally happy and just went about her business in the memory care unit. Then she slowly lost all of her faculties and one day just quietly died. I was happy for her! I was sad for OUR loss, but I was happy that she didn’t have to suffer the pain of her body’s ultimate betrayal like my other grandmother had. She suffered for years with all of her faculties intact. She feared that every day was going to be her last. She was completely cognizant up until she took her very last breath. She said to my mom, “I’m so tired Katie…” and my mom replied “It’s OK to go to sleep momma,” and she died. The differences in their deaths was striking to me. One was fully aware that she was actively dying and the other was not. I think at that moment I actually hoped that when the time came for me, I would go out like Alice, blissfully unaware; and not like Wanita, painfully sure of what was about to happen to her.

      • TuuxKabin
      • Câl

        I fully understand the conflicted feelings you describe, and am tempted to agree that often the best way to go is with dementia rather than physical pain. I worked in a residential home for the elderly for 9 years and experienced a number of deaths of our residents. I am inclined to agree about dementia usually leaving people not understanding their surroundings but generally having the coping mechanism of leaving them with memories of a happy time, most often before marriage, I’ve found. For that reason dementia is usually most painful for the family and friends but not always. We cared for one woman who was “stuck” in 1940-41 during the blitz on our city of Bristol, the most traumatic year of her life for the bombing and her personal life too. She obviously had been abused by her husband and was fearful that he was going to come back and hurt her and her two young children (who were never aware of this period of her life until the dementia and in their 60s at the time). She knew that she should know me and often assumed that I was her younger brother and always wanted me to get her away from “that man”. I could usually calm her and tell her that everything would be OK in the end. She also would see a big black dog in any shadows that terrified her. Finally she had a massive stroke and died quite quickly, which we felt relieved about in some ways.

        Other deaths were peaceful and came after physical suffering, but when the person was ready to go mentally and emotionally, which is ultimately how I would like to go. I was always scared of pain and did not want that, but now having lived with cancer for 6 years, I’m over worrying about that. Being paralysed or locked in worries me more.

        Sometimes people really struggled to keep breathing at the end, and we were cynical enough to note that this seemed to happen most to the most outwardly religious, the ones who had always said they were ready to meet their maker, but clearly either did not really believe or feared they might not end up where they hoped afterwards.

      • DoctorDJ

        “…it is not hard on the person with it,…”

        We all have our own experiences, but having lost my 85 year old mother just before Christmas after a 10 year experience with Alzheimer’s, I can assure you it IS hard on the afflicted, especially during the early stages of the disease. The frustration at being unable to complete simple tasks, or remember where she left her hearing aids, were difficult to cope with. Seeing her walk out of the bathroom, naked from the waist down, carrying her shit-covered underwear and pants, was humiliating to both of us.

        (I could go on, but the pain is too sharp and too recent.)

        Her mother died of dementia at age 82. Does the same fate await me?

        • Goodboy

          My grandmother had it. My mom now has it. Seems to definitely have a strong genetic bases to be passed.

      • Hue-Man

        My grandmother became very violent as she was frustrated with the loss of mental capability. That only ended when the disease had progressed to the point that she was no longer aware that she was ill.

      • Derrick Johns

        Thank you for sharing, WitlessProtection.

    • Mark

      A couple weeks back, I called Mom for the daily ‘tent check’. She was telling me that my Dad and the caregiver had gone over to Walmart to pick up her prescriptions, and they were all going out to lunch when they got back. And I said, “Dad?” She said, “Yes, my husband.”

      My dad has been dead for 10 years. They had been divorced for another 10 years before his death. It’s that ‘when the bullet hits the bone’ feeling….and you know.

  • Earl

    Do not go gentle into that good night

    Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    • Dazzer

      Thank you for that 🙂

      • Earl

        I should have read the poem to my mum. She used to read it, long before she came down with Alzheimer’s. Like all who die of that disease, they were great people. QQ

    • TuuxKabin

      Thank you Earl. I wish there was a way to let David know of our support and concern. Guess I’ll look up how to contact him, and send that quote. Thank you for giving us that.

    • Natty Enquirer

      it’s a great poem, but it captures the perspective of a 33-year-old who is in the full flower of his vigor. Time may bring a different wisdom to those advancing into old age.

      • Earl

        And yet, my parents loved that poem. And did so until their end. 87 and 93.

      • Câl

        I feel that this is really the poem of a young man asking his father not to get old and eventually die rather than actually a man facing death himself. Someone gave me a copy of the poem when I was particularly ill with my cancer and while not yet in old age (last day of my 40s today!), I can say that it made me really angry. Raging is all very well, but ultimately tiring and when the inevitable tsunami of the dark comes we are all just standing shouting at the waves. Just love, make the world a better place however we can in the time we have and accept age, illness and death in their turn.

        • another_steve

          Very nice, Câl. 😉

          Your reference there to “waves” made me think of my favorite poem regarding youth and aging.

          An extract from Dylan Thomas’s “Fern Hill”:


          Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
          Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
          In the moon that is always rising,
          Nor that riding to sleep
          I should hear him fly with the high fields
          And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
          Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
          Time held me green and dying
          Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

  • Mike P

    So sad. Shirley Jones, his stepmother is still alive. The group was the ultimate bubble-gum music but is still very pleasant to listen to.

  • stuckinthewoods

    The only good I can see coming from this surge of presently incurable dementia is that it may advance the legal right to die. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had to deal with someone with dementia. I don’t know anyone who isn’t frightened of being forced to live in that condition.

    • Hue-Man

      Canada’s physician-assisted death law (federal jurisdiction) which was passed almost a year ago, excludes mental health from the permitted medical diagnoses. The person has to have a fatal disease and death must be “imminent”.

      I expect the law will be expanded after a few years’ experience. The practical problem I foresee is who decides and when. If I was diagnosed with Alzheimers, I would want to enjoy life as long as possible with the risk that I would wait too long and forget to make the decision! If I had the equivalent of a DNR to initiate my death if I’m no longer competent, who would want to make that decision and how would they decide if I was ready to die?

      BTW, the highest-profile assisted death so far – from September:

      W.P. Kinsella, the B.C.-based author of Shoeless Joe, the award-winning novel that became the film Field of Dreams, has died at 81.
      His literary agency confirms the writer had a doctor-assisted death on Friday in Hope, B.C.


  • Derrick Johns

    so then it is possible to have dementia without having Alzheimers? I think all of us over the age of 60 (or nearing it) think about that. We say things like, “oh, I’ll walk into the river before I live my life with dementia” The only problem is that you forget you made that promise.

    There will be therapy for dementia to come. Yes, there will.

    • stuckinthewoods

      Alzheimers is one of several dementias. My mother had a vascular dementia which was gentler than my step-father’s Alzheimers or what I’m now dealing with in a friend. I suspect hers is Alzheimers.

      If there isn’t a concerted effort to head off dementia it will take the world economy down.

      • Derrick Johns

        THanks for the explanation, stuckinthewoods. My father had a form of dementia. In fact, all my family who’ve lived over the age of 85 have had some form of dementia.
        Sometimes I wonder if some personal habits that some of us have that may speed up on onset of dementia: alcohol, other drugs, tobacco? I don’t know. My grandfather’s sisters developed dementia but after the age of 90.

        • stuckinthewoods

          85 in my family, and husband’s as well. (I believe my father was beginning vascular dementia when he died of a heart attack at 72.) Certain things like head injury are correlated. That’s a topic in sports now. In 2003 I had a severe head injury and upon recovery could tell my intelligence was lower. It was a taste of things to come. Since then I’ve had to care-take for 3 people with formal diagnoses of dementia. My personal sense is that “normal mental aging” is a dilute version of some dementia but that Alzheimers is distinct.

          I think it’s an insult to live to 90 mentally alert and not be allowed to die somatically, gently. I don’t understand why dementia is so common now but of course very few lived to 85/90 in earlier times.

        • grada3784

          Alcohol and drug abuse can certainly speed onset up. If fact, many alcoholics in this condition are called “wet brains”.

  • #notmypussygrabber

    And yet Trump was elected President.

  • Natty Enquirer

    I hope he remembers to stop drinking and driving.

  • bcarter3

    Thinking of the young David Cassidy, who was insanely cute, and the young Jan Michael Vincent, who was insanely beautiful, and feeling old and sad.

    What a long, strange trip it’s been.

  • HandsomeMrToad

    I used to do research on dementia, but I kept forgetting what I was trying to swim.

  • Derrick Johns

    This discussion is one of most important and informative “threads” on Joe My God (since I’ve been coming here) or any blog. Everybody should read the comments.

  • JCF

    Sigh, one of my first loves. * Take (get good) care, David. Be at peace.

    * The fact that “Keith Partridge”‘s body double was a WOMAN should have told me something about myself! ;-/

  • wmforr

    Never was a fan of the Partridges, but I warmed to the Cassidy brothers when they were part of a Sondheim concert in Hollywood Bowl.
    The three sang “You Could Drive a Person Crazy”–without changing the lyrics.
    David sang, “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)” without changing the lyrics. Don’t have the CD at hand, but it may still be available.

  • Blobby

    “I Think I Love You”. It’s not just a song, he really just doesn’t remember.