DELLA REESE, SINGER AND ‘TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL’ STAR
Della Reese, the husky-voiced singer and actress who spent almost a decade playing a down-to-earth heavenly messenger on the CBS series “Touched by an Angel” and became an ordained minister in real life, died on Sunday night at her home in Encino, Calif. She was 86.
Her death was confirmed by her manager, Lynda Bensky. She did not specify the cause but said that Ms. Reese had diabetes.
Ms. Reese had been under contract to Jubilee Records for three years when, in 1957, she had her first big hit record, the romantic ballad “And That Reminds Me.”
Named the year’s most promising “girl singer” by Billboard, Variety and Cash Box, she was soon making regular appearances on the leading television variety shows of the day. Her biggest hit was “Don’t You Know” — adapted from “Musetta’s Waltz,” an aria from “La Bohème” — which reached No. 2 on the Billboard singles chart in 1959.
But she became best known as actress, particularly in the sentimental drama series “Touched by an Angel,” which had its premiere in 1994 and evolved into one of prime time’s top-rated shows. It placed in the Nielsen Top 10 from 1996 to 2000, with an average of more than 20 million weekly viewers at one point.
In the show, Ms. Reese, by then in her 60s, was cast as Tess, a stern but loving supervisor of angels who guided a softhearted and less experienced angel, Monica (Roma Downey), in helping humans at crossroads in their lives. The series told reassuring stories of forgiveness and second chances with mild irreverence. (“You get your little angel butt back to the city,” Tess told Monica in one episode.)
Ms. Reese contended that no career switch was involved. “Every time I sang the blues, I wasn’t blue,” she said in a 2008 interview for the Archive of American Television, alluding to her emotional connections and delivery as a vocalist. “I was already acting.”
Ms. Reese’s religious faith was a major influence in her career. In 1996 she told The Chicago Tribune that she had consulted with God about whether to sign on for “Angel.” “As clearly as I hear you,” she said, “I heard him say: ‘You can do this. I want you to do this, and you can retire in 10 years.’ ”
The series lasted nine years, and she continued to act for another decade after that.
The only notable complication during the show’s run was a highly publicized salary dispute during the 1997-98 season. Ms. Reese went public with her displeasure at being offered a 12.5 percent pay increase for the new season, while Ms. Downey received a 100 percent raise.
The matter was settled the next summer with a three-year agreement that eventually increased Ms. Reese’s salary from $40,000 to $100,000 per episode (which was still less than what Ms. Downey was earning). Part of CBS’s argument against the raise was that the network had made scheduling concessions to allow Ms. Reese to fly from the set in Utah to California every weekend for church services.
In the 1980s, Ms. Reese had been ordained as a minister by the Universal Foundation for Better Living and founded the Understanding Principles for Better Living Church, a nondenominational Christian ministry. She delivered Sunday sermons there for many years.
Delloreese Patricia Early was born on July 6, 1931, in Detroit. Her mother, the former Nellie Mitchelle, was a domestic worker and her father, Richard, a steelworker, but there were early signs that their daughter might occupy a completely different world.
When Delloreese was 13, Mahalia Jackson heard her sing at a Baptist church and invited the girl to join her gospel-choir tour. “I was arrogant enough to think I was helping out this old lady,” Ms. Reese recalled in a 1998 interview with The New York Times.
She entered Wayne State University with plans to become a psychiatrist, but after her mother died she had a falling-out with her father, left school, moved out of the family home and supported herself with a variety of jobs, including music.
Her big break was a one-week engagement at the Flame Show Bar in Detroit, which she won in a contest that asked newspaper readers to vote for their favorite local singer. That one week turned into months, a manager spotted her, and she soon moved to New York, where she became a vocalist with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra. Although her biggest hits came in her youth, she continued to record well into her 60s and received a Grammy Award nomination for her 1998 gospel album, “My Soul Feels Better Right Now.”
Ms. Reese made her television acting debut as a nightclub owner on the police series “The Mod Squad” in 1968. She went on to appear in scores of television movies and series, including the 1970s sitcom “Chico and the Man,” in which she had a recurring role, and the 1991-92 series “The Royal Family,” which ended shortly after the death of her co-star Redd Foxx.
Feature films were not a major part of her career — she appeared in fewer than a dozen — but she considered her role as a 1920s madam in Eddie Murphy’s “Harlem Nights” (1989) pivotal because it proved she could play a character different from the ones she had in the past. She told The Ottawa Citizen in 1997, “For a long time, I was the woman who owned the club where the star came in after he broke up with his girlfriend.”
Ms. Reese, who sometimes filled in for Johnny Carson as guest host on “The Tonight Show,” was the first black woman to host a national television variety-talk show. The syndicated “Della” lasted only one season (1969-70), but that amounted to almost 200 episodes. Her guests included George Burns, Ike and Tina Turner, Little Richard, Steve Allen, Tony Bennett, Ethel Waters and Gypsy Rose Lee.
“The Tonight Show” was also the occasion for a brush with tragedy. In 1980, while taping a musical segment, she suffered a brain aneurysm that almost proved fatal. After multiple operations, she returned to work.
After “Touched by an Angel,” Ms. Reese continued to act occasionally in movies and on TV. Her last roles were in two holiday-themed 2013 television movies, “Dear Secret Santa” and “Miracle at Gate 213” (NBC), and two episodes of the Hallmark Channel series “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (2014).
Ms. Reese married Vermont Taliaferro, a Michigan factory worker, in 1951. They were divorced in 1958. Her second husband, from 1959 until their divorce in 1961, was Leroy Gray, an accountant. A brief 1961 marriage to Mercer Ellington, Duke Ellington’s son, was annulled. In 1983 she married Franklin Lett, a concert producer, who survives her.
Complete information on other survivors was not immediately available. A daughter, Delloreese Daniels Owens, died in 2002.
Ms. Reese saw no conflict between her religious beliefs and the enjoyment of stardom’s perquisites. A 2003 Los Angeles Times article quoted one of her sermons: “I like to sit on soft things and sleep late,” she told her congregation, adding playfully: “I like 45 $100 bills in my pocketbook. It kind of makes me feel like a real woman.”
SOURCE: The New York Times
PETE MOORE, AN ORIGINAL MIRACLE AND CO-WRITER OF HITS
Pete Moore, an original member of the Miracles, the hitmaking Motown group led by Smokey Robinson, and a co-writer of some of its most enduring songs, died in Las Vegas on Nov. 19, his 79th birthday.
His wife, Tina, said the cause was complications of diabetes.
Mr. Moore’s credits included three melancholy Top 20 hits that were released in 1965, during an especially dynamic period for Motown and the Miracles: “Ooo Baby Baby,” written with Mr. Robinson; “The Tracks of My Tears,” with Mr. Robinson and the guitarist Marv Tarplin; and “My Girl Has Gone,” with Mr. Robinson, Mr. Tarplin and the group’s Ronnie White.
Adam White, the author, with the former Motown Records executive Barney Ales, of “Motown: The Sound of Young America” (2016), said in an email that this trilogy of Miracles songs “defines their talent and their art better than anything else.”
He added, “A measure of Pete Moore’s importance to the Miracles lies in the personal: that he and Smokey were friends from childhood; that he was in the earliest incarnations of the group — and that he was the best man at Smokey’s wedding.”
Mr. Moore brought his bass voice to a group known for its smooth harmonies, snazzy clothes and silky onstage choreography, and for the good looks and angelic high tenor, which rose effortlessly to a falsetto, of its leader, Mr. Robinson.
In the origin story of the Motown empire, the Miracles were the founder Berry Gordy Jr.’s first great ensemble, preceding the Supremes, the Four Tops and the Temptations. “Shop Around” (1960), which Mr. Gordy wrote with Mr. Robinson, was Motown’s first million-seller, rising to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart — thanks in part to the timing of its release.
In an interview in 2015 with WVUD-FM in Newark, Del., Mr. Moore said that Mr. Gordy “wasn’t aware that you didn’t release records in December.”
“The record came out on Dec. 17,” he continued. “Everybody was shopping. When they heard ‘Shop Around’ on the radio, that’s what they were doing — buying dresses and toys for the kids — and that record exploded. Wow! Bam!”
There would be many more hits after that, including “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Mickey’s Monkey,” “Going to a Go-Go” and, following a name change to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles in 1967, “I Second That Emotion” and “The Tears of a Clown.”
Mr. Moore recalled that “The Tracks of My Tears” emerged from a guitar riff played by Mr. Tarplin that coincided with a joint desire to write a song inspired by the tragic opera “Pagliacci,” whose central character is a sad clown.
“Why don’t we write a song about a guy who appeared to be happy on the outside but he’s always sad on the inside?” Mr. Moore said in the WVUD interview. “So we wrote it.”
The song was ranked 12th in Rolling Stone’s 1988 list of the 100 best singles of the previous 25 years. Mr. Moore said in the accompanying article, which was written by Mr. White, that “The Tracks of My Tears” appealed to audiences immediately, including those on television.
“I can recall doing shows like Dick Clark and ‘Hullabaloo,’ ” he said. “Every time we sang that song people in the audience would cry.”
The Miracles returned to the “Pagliacci” theme in 1970 with “The Tears of a Clown,” which has direct references to the opera.
Mr. Moore collaborated on hit songs with his Miracles partners for other Motown artists, including Marvin Gaye, with “Ain’t That Peculiar” and “I’ll Be Doggone.”
Warren Thomas Moore was born on Nov. 19, 1938, in Detroit. His father, Odell, was a sculptor, and his mother, Oreatha, was a teacher.
Mr. Moore was 12 when he met Mr. Robinson, and by high school they were in a group called the Five Chimes (with Mr. White, a future Miracle) that won a contest on “Saturday Dance Party,” a Detroit television show hosted by Ed McKenzie, a local disc jockey. Mr. Moore said that in that moment he could visualize his future.
“We walked with our chests out in high school,” he said an interview for “Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: The Definitive Performances 1963-1987,” a DVD released in 2006. “When that happened, I told myself, ‘This is what I want to do.’ ”
But at an audition in 1957 for Nat Tarnopol, the R&B singer Jackie Wilson’s manager, the group, now rechristened the Matadors, was told that they were not ready, Mr. Moore recalled. They were also told that with a female singer, Claudette Rogers (who would marry and subsequently divorce Mr. Robinson), they sounded too much like the Platters. He suggested that they return in a year.
Disappointed, they left. But they were stopped outside by Mr. Gordy, who had listened to the audition, was impressed and wanted to manage them. “We knew who he was,” MrMoore told WVUD. “Berry had written all of Jackie’s hits until then.”
With Mr. Gordy as their manager — and with his help in improving Mr. Robinson’s songwriting — they changed their name to the Miracles and became an integral force at Motown.
Mr. Robinson last performed with the Miracles in 1972 before leaving to pursue a solo career and focus more on his role as a vice president of Motown. Mr. Moore remained with the Miracles until they dissolved in 1978. With Billy Griffin, who replaced Mr. Robinson as lead singer, he wrote “Love Machine (Part 1),” a No. 1 Billboard hit in 1976.
In his post-Miracles career, Mr. Moore had a production company in Las Vegas and was known for nurturing the career of the hip-hop artist B. Taylor. “Thank you for discovering me, mentoring me everyday for 10 years,” Mr. Taylor wrote on Instagram.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Moore is survived by twin daughters, Monique and Monette Moore, and a sister, Winifred Moore.
While Mr. Robinson was voted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, the rest of the Miracles were not enshrined until 2012.
It was a slight that Mr. Moore recalled during an interview shortly before his induction with Mr. Tarplin, Ms. Rogers Robinson, Mr. White and Bobby Rogers.
“It was a slap in the face,” he told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland. “We are the premiere group of Motown. We were there before there was a Motown. We set the pace for all the other artists to come after us.”
SOURCE: The New York Times
CHARLES MANSON, WILD-EYED LEADER OF A MURDEROUS CREW
Charles Manson, one of the most notorious murderers of the 20th century, who was very likely the most culturally persistent and perhaps also the most inscrutable, died on Sunday in a hospital in Kern County, Calif., north of Los Angeles. He was 83 and had been behind bars for most of his life.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced his death in a news release. In accordance with federal and state privacy regulations, no cause was given; he had been hospitalized in January for intestinal bleeding but was ruled too frail to undergo surgery.
Mr. Manson was a semiliterate habitual criminal and failed musician before he came to irrevocable attention in the late 1960s as the wild-eyed leader of the Manson family, a murderous band of young drifters in California. Convicted of nine murders in all, he was known in particular for the seven brutal killings collectively called the Tate-LaBianca murders, committed by his followers on two consecutive August nights in 1969.
The most famous of the victims was Sharon Tate, an actress who was married to the film director Roman Polanski. Eight and a half months pregnant, she was killed with four other people at her home in the Benedict Canyon area of Los Angeles, near Beverly Hills.
The Tate-LaBianca killings and the seven-month trial that followed were the subjects of fevered news coverage. To a frightened, mesmerized public, the murders, with their undercurrents of sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll and Satanism, seemed the depraved logical extension of the anti-establishment, do-your-own-thing ethos that helped define the ’60s.
Since then, the Manson family has occupied a dark, persistent place in American culture — and American commerce. It has inspired, among other things, pop songs, an opera, films, a host of internet fan sites, T-shirts, children’s wear and half the stage name of the rock musician Marilyn Manson.
It has also been the subject of many nonfiction books, most famously “Helter Skelter” (1974), by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. Mr. Bugliosi was the lead prosecutor at the Tate-LaBianca trial.
The Manson family came to renewed attention in 2008, when officials in California, responding to long speculation that there were victims still unaccounted for, searched a stretch of desert in Death Valley. There, in a derelict place known as the Barker Ranch, Mr. Manson and his followers had lived for a time in the late ’60s. The search turned up no human remains.
It was a measure of Mr. Manson’s hold over his followers, mostly young women who had fled middle-class homes, that he was not physically present at the precise moment that any one of the Tate-LaBianca victims was killed. Yet his family swiftly murdered them on his orders, which, according to many later accounts, were meant to incite an apocalyptic race war that Mr. Manson called Helter Skelter. He took the name from the title of a Beatles song.
Throughout the decades since, Mr. Manson has remained an enigma. Was he a paranoid schizophrenic, as some observers have suggested? Was he a sociopath, devoid of human feeling? Was he a charismatic guru, as his followers once believed and his fans seemingly still do?
Or was he simply flotsam, a man whose life, The New York Times wrote in 1970, “stands as a monument to parental neglect and the failure of the public correctional system”?
No Name Maddox, as Mr. Manson was officially first known, was born on Nov. 12, 1934, to a 16-year-old unwed mother in Cincinnati. (Many accounts give the date erroneously as Nov. 11.) His mother, Kathleen Maddox, was often described as having been a prostitute. What is certain, according to Mr. Bugliosi’s book and other accounts, is that she was a heavy drinker who lived on the margins of society with a series of men.
Mr. Manson apparently never knew his biological father. His mother briefly married another man, William Manson, and gave her young son the name Charles Milles Manson.
Kathleen often disappeared for long periods — when Charles was 5, for instance, she was sent to prison for robbing a gas station — leaving him to bounce among relatives in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. She was paroled when Charles was 8 and took him back, but kept him for only a few years.
Burglary, Robbery, Rape
From the age of 12 on, Charles was placed in a string of reform schools. At one institution, he held a razor to a boy’s throat and raped him.
Escaping often, he committed burglaries, auto thefts and armed robberies, landing in between in juvenile detention centers and eventually federal reformatories. He was paroled from the last one at 19, in May 1954.
Starting in the mid-1950s, Mr. Manson, living mostly in Southern California, was variously a busboy, parking-lot attendant, car thief, check forger and pimp. During this period, he was in and out of prison.
He was married twice: in 1955 to Rosalie Jean Willis, a teenage waitress, and a few years later to a young prostitute named Leona. Both marriages ended in divorce.
Mr. Manson was believed to have fathered at least two children over the years: at least one with one of his wives, and at least one more with one of his followers. The precise number, names and whereabouts of his children — a subject around which rumor and urban legend have long coalesced — could not be confirmed.
By March 1967, when Mr. Manson, then 32, was paroled from his latest prison stay, he had spent more than half his life in correctional facilities. On his release, he moved to the Bay Area and eventually settled in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, the nerve center of hippiedom, just in time for the Summer of Love.
There, espousing a philosophy that was an idiosyncratic mix of Scientology, hippie anti-authoritarianism, Beatles lyrics, the Book of Revelation and the writings of Hitler, he began to draw into his orbit the rootless young adherents who would become known as the Manson family.
Mr. Manson had learned to play the guitar in prison and hoped to make it as a singer-songwriter. His voice was once compared to that of the young Frankie Laine, a crooner who first became popular in the 1940s.
Mr. Manson’s lyrics, by contrast, were often about sex and death, but in the ’60s, that did not stand out very much. (Songs he wrote were later recorded by Guns N’ Roses and Marilyn Manson.) Once he was famous, Mr. Manson himself released several albums, including “LIE,” issued in 1970, and “Live at San Quentin,” issued in 2006.
With his followers — a loose, shifting band of a dozen or more — Mr. Manson left San Francisco for Los Angeles. They stayed awhile in the home of Dennis Wilson, the Beach Boys’ drummer. Mr. Manson hoped the association would help him land a recording contract, but none materialized. (The Beach Boys did later record a song, “Never Learn Not to Love,” that was based on one written by Mr. Manson, although Mr. Wilson, who sang it, gave it new lyrics and a new title — Mr. Manson had called it “Cease to Exist” — and took credit for writing it.)
The Manson family next moved to the Spahn Movie Ranch, a mock Old West town north of Los Angeles that was once a film set but had since fallen to ruins. The group later moved to Death Valley, eventually settling at the Barker Ranch.
The desert location would protect the family, Mr. Manson apparently thought, in the clash of the races that he believed was inevitable. He openly professed his hatred of black people, and he believed that when Helter Skelter came, blacks would annihilate whites. Then, unable to govern themselves, the blacks would turn for leadership to the Manson family, who would have ridden out the conflict in deep underground holes in the desert.
A Frenzy of Bloodshed
At some point, Mr. Manson seems to have decided to help Helter Skelter along. Late at night on Aug. 8, 1969, he dispatched four family members — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Charles Watson and Linda Kasabian — to the Tate home in the Hollywood hills. Mr. Manson knew the house: Terry Melcher, a well-known record producer with whom he had dealt fruitlessly, had once lived there.
Shortly after midnight on Aug. 9, Ms. Atkins, Ms. Krenwinkel and Mr. Watson entered the house while Ms. Kasabian waited outside. Through a frenzied combination of shooting, stabbing, beating and hanging, they murdered Ms. Tate and four others in the house and on the grounds: Jay Sebring, a Hollywood hairdresser; Abigail Folger, an heiress to the Folger coffee fortune; Voytek (also spelled Wojciech) Frykowski, Ms. Folger’s boyfriend; and Steven Parent, an 18-year-old visitor. Ms. Tate’s husband, Mr. Polanski, was in London at the time.
Before leaving, Ms. Atkins scrawled the word “pig” in blood on the front door of the house; in Mr. Manson’s peculiar logic, the killings were supposed to look like the work of black militants.
The next night, Aug. 10, Mr. Manson and a half-dozen followers drove to a Los Angeles house he appeared to have selected at random. Inside, Mr. Manson tied up the residents — a wealthy grocer named Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary — before leaving. After he was gone, several family members stabbed the couple to death. The phrases “Death to Pigs” and “Healter Skelter,” misspelled, were scrawled in blood at the scene.
The seven murders went unsolved for months. Then, in the autumn of 1969, the police closed in on the Manson family after Ms. Atkins, in jail on an unrelated murder charge, bragged to cellmates about the killings.
On June 15, 1970, Mr. Manson, Ms. Atkins, Ms. Krenwinkel and a fourth family member, Leslie Van Houten, went on trial for murder. Ms. Kasabian, who had been present on both nights but said she had not participated in the killings, became the prosecution’s star witness and was given immunity. Mr. Watson, who had fled to Texas, was tried and convicted separately.
During the trial, the bizarre became routine. On one occasion, Mr. Manson lunged at the judge with a pencil. On another, he punched his lawyer in open court. At one point, Mr. Manson appeared in court with an “X” carved into his forehead; his co-defendants quickly followed suit. (Mr. Manson later carved the X into a swastika, which remained flagrantly visible ever after.)
Outside the courthouse, a small flock of chanting family members kept vigil. One of them, Lynette Fromme, nicknamed Squeaky, would make headlines herself in 1975 when she tried to assassinate President Gerald R. Ford.
On Jan. 25, 1971, after nine days’ deliberation, the jury found Mr. Manson, Ms. Atkins and Ms. Krenwinkel guilty of seven counts of murder each. Ms. Van Houten, who had been present only at the LaBianca murders, was found guilty of two counts. All four were also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder.
On March 29, the jury voted to give all four defendants the death penalty. In 1972, after capital punishment was temporarily outlawed in California, their sentences were reduced to life in prison.
Mr. Manson was convicted separately of two other murders: those of Gary Hinman, a musician killed by Manson family members in late July 1969, and Donald Shea, a Barker Ranch stuntman killed late that August. Altogether, Mr. Manson and seven family members were eventually convicted of one to nine murders apiece.
Incarcerated in a series of prisons over the years, Mr. Manson passed the time by playing the guitar, doing menial chores and making scorpions and spiders out of thread from his socks. His notoriety made him a target: In 1984, he was treated for second- and third-degree burns after being doused with paint thinner by a fellow inmate and set ablaze.
Mr. Manson was turned down for parole a dozen times, most recently in 2012. Most of the other convicted family members remain in prison. Ms. Atkins died in prison in 2009, at 61, of natural causes.
The Manson family was an inspiration for the television series “Aquarius,” broadcast on NBC in 2015 and 2016. A period drama set in the late ’60s, it starred David Duchovny as a Los Angeles police detective who comes up against Mr. Manson (played by the British actor Gethin Anthony) in the course of investigating a teenage girl’s disappearance.
To the end of his life, Mr. Manson denied having ordered the Tate-LaBianca murders. Nor, as he replied to a question he was often asked, did he feel remorse, in any case.
He said as much in 1986 in a prison interview with the television journalist Charlie Rose.
“So you didn’t care?” Mr. Rose asked, invoking Ms. Tate and her unborn child.
“Care?” Mr. Manson replied.
He added, “What the hell does that mean, ‘care’?”
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this obituary misstated the location of the house where Sharon Tate and four other people were killed by followers of Mr. Manson. It was in Los Angeles, not Beverly Hills.
DAVID CASSIDY, HEARTTHROB AND ‘PARTRIDEG FAMILY’ STAR
Credit Ellidge/Getty Images
David Cassidy, the actor, singer and teen heartthrob best known as the band member with the green eyes and the feathered haircut on “The Partridge Family,” the 1970s television show about a family band, died on Tuesday in a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 67.
His publicist, Jo-Ann Geffen, said the cause was liver failure. Mr. Cassidy, who lived in Fort Lauderdale, had recently been admitted to the hospital in critical condition.
Mr. Cassidy rose to fame on “The Partridge Family” playing Keith Partridge, the eldest of five children in a family that forms a band and goes on tour in a multicolored bus. His character, a high school student, was swooned over by young women as he learned to navigate his newfound fame.
It was 1970, with the turbulent late 1960s of the Vietnam War, race riots, psychedelia, Woodstock and Altamont barely past, when Mr. Cassidy got the lead role on the show. “The Partridge Family” was produced by Screen Gems, which had also been the company behind “The Monkees,” another sitcom about a pop band, which had its own heartthrob in Davy Jones.
Mr. Cassidy had a face youthful enough to portray a teenager, a shy smile and friendly eyes, and he could sing well enough to portray Keith Partridge without having to lip-sync someone else’s voice.
Even in the FM-radio heyday of Black Sabbath, the Allman Brothers and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, there was a place for a well-groomed, unthreatening young pop singer. Mr. Cassidy became one of the teen idols of the early 1970s, arriving between Bobby Sherman and Donny Osmond and decades before Justin Timberlake or Charlie Puth. He was marketed through Top 40 radio and fan magazines as a wholesome fantasy figure for girls.
Soon after “The Partridge Family” began, he had a No. 1 hit, “I Think I Love You,” credited (as many of his hits were) to the Partridge Family.
“The Partridge Family” lasted from 1970 to 1974, a respectable run for a show featuring a teenage idol. In 1972, in what he recalled as a career peak, Mr. Cassidy headlined Madison Square Garden, wearing the kind of white jumpsuit Elvis Presley also favored in the 1970s. By then, he was already weary of incessant career demands and squealing mobs.
“Oh, they’re cute — they get flustered and I get flustered, and it’s all kind of fun,” Mr. Cassidy said of his fans in 1972, when he was 21. “But it’s no fun when they rip your clothes and take rooms next door in hotels and keep pounding on the door and slipping notes under it.”
In an attempt to spice up his squeaky-clean image, Mr. Cassidy posed nude in a photo shoot for the cover of Rolling Stone in 1972. In the article, he said he was already dreaming about the end of his acting career.
“I’ll feel really good when it’s over,” he said. “I have an image of myself in five years. I’m living on an island. The sky is blue, the sun is shining. And I’m smiling, I’m healthy, I’m a family man.”
Mr. Cassidy was nominated for a Grammy Award for best new artist in 1970, and his 1972 solo album, “Cherish,” went gold. The Partridge Family had six albums achieve that certification from 1970 to 1972.
According to an online biography of the Partridge Family by Ed Hogan, Mr. Cassidy and his co-star and real-life stepmother, the Academy Award-winning actress Shirley Jones, were the only cast members on the television show heard on the group’s records — Mr. Cassidy as a lead vocalist and Ms. Jones on background vocals.
He was among the early pop talents to come to notice through television. Reviewing the 1972 concert at Madison Square Garden, held on a Saturday afternoon, Don Heckman wrote in The New York Times that the show “was less a musical event than a love feast, less a concert than a symbolic announcement of what pop music might become.”
“The focus of it all,” he added, “was David Cassidy, singer and star of television’s ‘The Partridge Family’ and the current idol of almost every 13‐year‐old girl in America.”
Referring to the fans in the audience, Mr. Heckman added, “I suspect that their affection had more to say about the manipulative powers of television and recordings than it did about David Cassidy.”
After “The Partridge Family” ended, Mr. Cassidy pursued an on-and-off acting and music career. Like Presley, he eventually had his own stints in Las Vegas, notably a mid-1990s arena spectacle titled “EFX.” He never equaled his early popularity, but he stayed in show business to the end.
In later years, he wrote books about the toll that stardom had taken on him, and about his struggles with substance abuse. He revealed this year that he had dementia.
After watching his mother struggle with dementia, he worked with organizations to educate others about Alzheimer’s disease.
Mr. Cassidy was born on April 12, 1950, in New York City to the actors Jack Cassidy and Evelyn Ward. (Jack Cassidy, who later married Shirley Jones, died at 49 in 1976 in a fire at his Los Angeles apartment. Ms. Ward died at 89 in 2012.)
He grew up in West Orange, N.J., and moved to California when he was still a boy. He struggled in school but began taking small parts in plays and on television, eventually leading to his big break on “The Partridge Family.”
He was later seen on several other television series. A 1978 appearance on “Police Story” earned him an Emmy Award nomination, and he had his own short-lived crime show, “David Cassidy — Man Undercover,” in the 1978-79 season. In 2011 he was fired by Donald J. Trump on “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
Mr. Cassidy was married and divorced three times. He is survived by his son, Beau, a musician; his daughter, Katie, an actress; Ms. Jones, his stepmother; and three half brothers: Shaun (who had his own moment as a teen heartthrob in the late 1970s), Patrick and Ryan.
An earlier version of this obituary misspelled the given name of one of Mr. Cassidy’s half brothers. He is Shaun Cassidy, not Sean.
An earlier version of this obituary misstated the surname of Mr. Cassidy’s mother. She was Evelyn Ward, not Wood.
A picture caption with an earlier version of this obituary, using information from Getty Images, misstated the location of the photo of Mr. Cassidy holding an umbrella. It was Paris, not London.
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this obituary misstated the year Mr. Cassidy’s mother, Evelyn Ward, died. It was 2012, not 2013. Because of another editing error, the earlier version misstated the year Mr. Cassidy appeared on the television show “The Celebrity Apprentice.” It was 2011, not 2001.