Tiger Beat publicity photo
Danny and the trash can
James Franciscus and family
Filming with Margaret Hamilton
Up on the rooftop
An Interview With
GH: Did you get to keep any of your costumes, or on-set drums?
BF: Well, little odds and ends. One prop that I had for a long time, which I wish I still had, came from the episode we shot on the cruise ship. There was a costume party and Danny went as a trashcan. I had that trashcan for a long time. Great practical joke! I remember one time in LA I put myself out with the garbage and waited for the garbage man. When he took the lid off, I'd say "Hey! Give me that back!"
GH: Do you listen to the music at all?
BF: Rarely. It's not really my style. I liked it at the time, though. But it sort of became my job, so I didn't listen too much outside of work. Also, I was getting to the age where I was getting into Deep Purple and stuff like that. My Dad was with the Motion Picture Academy and he would receive soundtracks that were up for nomination for Academy Awards. One of the first albums I remember getting was "Woodstock," which I still have. So I got into that at an early age.
GH: When were you aware how huge the show had become?
BF: Going back and forth to the set everyday, you're a little bit insulated. Leaving the studio everyday and seeing these girls camped out waiting for autographs was kind of a clue. But the big one for me was when we went to King's Island to do that episode. They had mobile homes for dressing rooms. Being the little kid, I was curious about the skylight. So I crawled onto the roof through the skylight. People are screaming because they see me coming out, and I look around and it looks like Woodstock, because there are people as far as the eye can see, all screaming. I thought, "Oh my God!" and went back into the dressing room. It was really cool but also scary.
GH: What do you remember about filming aboard the cruise liner ["The Last Howard"]?
BF: That was like a big playground for us kids. There was a soda shop there. I have no idea how much ice cream Suzanne and I ate, but we ate a lot! A big highlight for me was that James Fransiscus was on board vacationing with his wife and kids. I actually had a little date with Jamie Fransiscus, his older daughter. That was a lot of fun. I remember his wife was a lot of fun! Just for fun, they took their little baby and put it in the hall and let it crawl down the hallway, and they'd go back inside their room and close the door just enough so they could watch people walk down the hallway and see this baby! I remember showing up for my date and James Fransiscus had a snicker on his face and gave me the "Take good care of my daughter" speech.
GH: Where did the actual cruise take you?
BF: It started in Puerto Vellarta and ended in Mazitlan, or the other way around. I don't remember.
GH: Was the crowd on the ship as crazy as the crowd at King's Island?
BF: I don't remember anything unusual. There weren't any mob scenes.
GH: Does it amaze you that people are still asking about the show 30 years later?
BF: Somewhat. The thing that amazing me is how dedicated some people still are. There's one girl who has sent me a birthday card and Christmas card practically every year since the show went off the air. I got a call recently at 3 o'clock in the morning, and with a call at that time of day, my first thought is that something is wrong. But it was a girl with a German accent, asking for Chris Partridge! So I had to hang up.
GH: Do you have a favorite episode?
BF: Well, obviously the one where Suzanne and I ran away from home, if for no other reason than that was the episode where we had the most to do. The Christmas episode was so much fun. They took that western street that we used to love playing on and painted it all these bright pastel colors. We got to wear all these fun costumes. We did one night shot I remember I thought was a lot of fun. It was just a little cold, and it was nighttime outside. And we had Dean Jagger as a guest star.
GH: Were you aware of who Dean Jagger was?
BF: I knew that he was famous. I had no idea why. I do remember thinking that he was "somebody" because Shirley seemed pretty impressed. She seemed to know him well. Obviously he was a peer of hers.
GH: Shirley and Dean Jagger were in "Elmer Gantry" together.
BF: Right but as a kid, it's like, "Elmer Gantry? What's that?"
GH: "The Partridge Family" had quite an impressive array of guest stars, including the Scarecrow [Ray Bolger] and Wicked Witch [Margaret Hamilton] from "The Wizard of Oz". How cool was that?
BF: Very much so! In fact that's one of my very favorite possessions that I have. And again, it's because of my Mom. She was really bright. She had Margaret Hamilton sign photos of "The Wizard of Oz" and she signed them to me personally. There is a shot of the Witch pointing out the window to her flying monkeys and the caption says something like, "Go get Brian and bring him back to me!" And she signed them "WWW". I have them in an envelope and I really need to frame them. Ray Bolger was very cool, too.
GH: Do you remember working with Jodie Foster?
BF: Jodie Foster! Yes! That was one of those things I just loved watching. Danny was trying to hit on her like he was everybody else. And she was so bright, she just played him like a fish on a line! He's trying to do his little smarmy stuff, and she's flirting just enough to entertain him, and then basically it was, "Well, see ya! Bye!" It was hysterical. The more she did that, the harder he tried. I remember thinking, "You have more than met your match, pal!"
GH: Do you have a least favorite episode?
BF: You know, it's funny. There are a lot of episodes where I only had one line, and I literally don't remember them. There are times I'll watch an episode and I don't remember anything about them until I see myself on there, and obviously I did it, but I don't remember. There was one that was kind of scary. We were doing a song number on the top of the bus ["I Can Get It For You Retail"]. It was the episode where Danny and I are selling Keith's belongings. I was scared! It was a really hot, smoggy day in LA. I don't like the heat anyway so I was miserable, and Danny is threatening to push me off the bus, and he was serious. I just remember doing that whole day hot and scared.
GH: They didn't try and secure you up there? You were just balancing yourself?
BF: Yeah we were up there loose. No cables or anything. That was filmed in the park too.
GH: Most cast member say they don't like the episode where you had to dress in a chicken outfit. If you don't like the heat, that must have been miserable.
BF: No, I didn't mind. I'm surprised too because I don't like heat. But I don't remember not liking that episode.
GH: Do you remember any stories revolving around the bus?
BF: Plenty. I remember it was an old decrepit bus that didn't run very well.
The bus was always parked over by the other set and it seemed like whenever we had to use that thing, clouds of smoke would be everywhere as they tried to get it started and the engine warmed up. I guess it had next to no clutch, making it hard for David or Shirley to drive it. I remember once we were shooting and driving down the road. We kept driving back and forth along Forest Lawn Drive by the mortuary in Burbank. They had these lights that I remember that were electric. They had nine little spotlights in a panel and I was in the back. Those lights were so hot, and I had my shoe resting up against one of the lights and it literally started melting my shoe. I just remember smelling burning plastic, and then realizing it was my shoe!
GH: I heard that it had to be pushed into a scene more than it was actually driven?
BF: Yeah, but that's not because it didn't run so much. They wanted it to come in quietly because it's better for sound.
GH: In an effort to change his image, David Cassidy posed for a semi-nude layout and interview for Rolling Stone magazine. Do you remember that causing any problems?
BF: I remember that Rolling Stone coming out and there being some snickering about it. I don't know if my Mom tried to protect me from these stories or if I was just unaware of them, or they may have been hidden enough from the kids that we didn't notice them -- I just don't know. I don't remember too much about it.