Recent TV interview


Arsenio


Dave Madden


Say cheese!


Filming on the Ranch


Filming on the bus


TV movie crush


Racing Brian


Racing Brian


Racing Brian


Theatre headshot


Brian & Jeremy


1995 reunion on Danny!


An Interview With

CONTINUED...


BF: That was a weird deal because we had heard about a "Partridge Family Reunion" on Arsenio Hall. We got in touch with the producer, who asked if we wanted to be on it. We were like, "Hello?! We were on the show - yes!" So we went to LA and went to the studio. Usually when you are on these things, you are backstage in a green room together with the rest of the cast members but for some reason they said "Well, we saved a couple of seats for you out in the audience, and we'll make reference to you." So Danny went on and showed the tattoo on his ass and spoke of the radio station he worked at, and we never went on! I remember they had a camera pointed towards us and everything else, but nothing ever happened. I don't even think we went backstage or anything! It was so weird.

GH: So you and Suzanne went expecting to be on the panel, and you were stuck in the audience?

BF: Yeah! And even then I thought it was a different way of doing it. I thought we were going to be a surprise guest or something out in the audience. But even that didn't happen. When the audience saw us come in and sit in the two reserved seats, the light bulbs went on in their heads, and they all thought it was neat - and then nothing! That was really an enlightening time for me when I went. I thought, "Okay - Chris and Tracy really don't mean anything!"

GH: Well, to many fans they do.

BF: Well, I don't know if they really do or not. I mean, we were there but not much. When you look at the Brady Bunch, they really worked to include all the kids in all episodes. They were much more equal in their status.

GH: And last, what about Dave Madden?

BF: Well, I told you I love Dave. I mean, he's just brilliant and funny. I have a lot of respect for him and always have. Very funny. I know my mom had a crush on him too! He was very liberal as was my Mom. He gave me and Danny driving lessons and I remember driving around the backlot on the Ranch in his Datsun 240Z and I was sitting on his lap doing the steering and gear shift and he was doing the throttle and the brake. Dave was really into photography and I got into it as a hobby because of him. He used to love very unusual sort of shots. I remember he took a photo of some guy from behind that was wearing really thick glasses. And from the angle Dave took the photo, you could see a distorted view of the guy in the thick lenses! Dave loved those kinds of shots.

GH: Did he fake a heart attack while driving like he did with Danny?

BF: I don't remember that. Maybe he did. He was really good with us kids because he really knew how to keep us entertained. He just had this big floppy nose that felt like it was rubber. So he'd take his nose and bop it back and forth like a boxer's punching bag and for a kid that was entertaining as hell!

GH: Did Wes Farrell visit the set at all?

BF: I think so. I seem to remember him being there, but not too often.

GH: Do you remember any stories regarding the people behind the scenes? Bob Claver, Mel Swope, Larry Rosen?

BF: I saw them all the time. I knew Dale McRaven was Susan Dey's boyfriend, at least in the last season. I remember he was a sort of radical hippie with the blue jeans and beard like Jerry Garcia. I liked them all, but Mel Swope was one of my favorites. I liked him a lot. We saw Bob Claver the least, but when he came on the set there was always an air about him. Everyone, including Shirley, seemed to pay closer attention to what he was saying. There were various crew members that we really became close to. I think a lot of these crew members were hired specifically because they were good with kids. We had one sound guy that we used to call "Chrome Dome" because he was amply bald. We used to come up behind him and say, "Hey! Shine your head for a quarter?" And stuff like that. He always took it really well until one day I got this idea to take a cold coke can, and hold it in my hands for a while, then I went up behind him and put my cold hands on his head! Well, he turned around and gave me such a look on his face!! I knew I had crossed over the line because this guy was always a sweetheart and good with us kids. I probably have more memories of the crew guys than some of the cast! The Assistant Director was named Chris Morgan. He was actually Harry Morgan's [M*A*S*H*] son. He had a wry, dry sense of humor. I'm not sure how thrilled he was to be working with kids. He was much like the Reuben Kincaid character. He says he hates kids, but does he really?

GH: Do you remember your stand-ins?

BF: It was kind of funny because the stand-in for me and Suzanne was like sixty years old! But he was our size so that's why he was hired.

GH: When we interviewed Suzanne, she mentioned something about a new series that was sold to a network at one point. Do you remember any details about it?

BF: I think it was 1988, or thereabouts. The basic premise was that Keith was going to get married. He had been an exchange student so we were going to go to the wedding in London. I think we met with Larry Rosen. I know I signed a contract to do a pilot and if it went to a series, we would do the series. I remember Dave Madden was coming in as I was going out. As far as I remember everybody was on board except for Susan, who was doing "L.A. Law" at the time. We joked that a perfect explanation for her absence was that she was a lawyer in LA and she can't come! So we signed contracts and had the basic premise, and then the Writers' Strike happened and by the time it was over, which was three or four months later, it had lost all its fire and that was then end of that.

GH: Did you see the two TV movies that have aired over the past few years? If so what did you think of them?

BF: Yes, I did. Stupid! I was kind of embarrassed. One was based on David's experiences and the other on Danny's. The one based on Danny's story, I found more interesting because it was a little bit more accurate, as far as Danny and what he went through. But that scene with the Brady Bunch kids was the stupidest thing I have ever seen. I thought, "What was that?!" We weren't even on the same studio lot and never met them in our costumes or anything. Still, I found it a little more interesting. I found David's to be one exaggeration after another.

GH: Suzanne was upset because they made Shirley look a little bufoonish - Danny's movie in particular.

BF: Yes! They made her look like a pompous egomaniac and she was anything but! So that was really lame. I was just disappointed in both of them.

GH: Both films focused on a crush that Susan Dey had on David Cassidy. Were you aware of anything like that going on?

BF: A little bit. I think it may have been exaggerated a bit, but I knew there was something going on. I think it was more in the beginning than towards the end, because she hooked up with Dale McRaven, and that was towards the end of the run.

GH: Tell us how you got into Road Racing?

BF: It started on the streets of Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills. My Mom's best friend was into racing and she's the one who sparked my interest. She used to give me stuff on the Indy 500 and Sports Car books. She was a neat lady, and unfortunately she passed away recently. So I would race on Mullholland between Coldwater and Laurel. I never really enjoyed racing other guys because a lot of them were drunk or stoned so I would do it against the clock. I didn't ever crash, but came close a few times. Eventually I got involved in solo racing in 1982, when I bought a real racecar and went road racing.

GH: Do you still participate?

BF: Sure! I've been doing it professionally on many levels since 1986. I was an instructor at a racing school. I did that for four years, and then I worked for another school for four years. Then I bought an existing race business named Pfeiffer Bridge Racing. That's where the trouble began. It was half service, half retail and you prepare race cars for clients. The best program is where you store a guy's car and maintain it, take it to the track and provide the pit crew. Then the owner races it, and you take it back afterwards and take care of it. But that was just a money pit like I never knew existed! I lost lots of money. Is still have it but I'm in the process of closing it up so I can move onto the next chapter of my life. But the idea was to make a living and go racing and I wasn't making a living and my racing drastically got curtailed.

GH: Where did you compete?

BF: In 1994 I finished third in the National Run-offs, which were held in Ohio. And I've raced in Atlanta, Washington, Oregon, and Florida. I've raced everything from dirt track and oval track cars to Formula Atlantic, which is one or two steps under an Indy car. The last time I drove was about two weeks ago in a Vintage Racing Event, in a 1961 Lotus. I've got a good reputation. It's pretty cool.

GH: Did I read somewhere you are also a teacher?

BF: I am a science teacher, yes. I did both fourth grade kids in 1985 and high school substitute teaching in 1991/92.

GH: What are you involved with now?

BF: I am involved in two things. I still have a few customers in the race business, and I also have a wine business, working in a wine tasting room and production. So I am entering the wine business. I'm in Sonoma County, which is the best place to be in the wine business.

GH: You recently opened in a production of "Gypsy". What can you tell us about that?

BF: It's with a group called the Santa Rosa Players. I'm playing Uncle Jocko and the hotel manager. They're a couple of small parts but that's fine with me. I was doing a lot of theatre with the Sonoma County Rep. I did Shakespeare a couple of times and it got too much with the race business, the wine business and the theatre so I was overwhelmed. This is a good time of the year to do theater because the race business is finished for the season, so I thought it would be fun to do a show.

GH: Do you enjoy performing in live theater?

BF: I had never really done live theater. I had always done commercials and TV, which is a completely different animal. I did my first show in 1991, I think, and I had an absolute ball! An audience has such a different element to it, and frankly I was scared because I had this reputation of being on "The Partridge Family" and was afraid I would be awful. But I think it when pretty well. If nothing else, I had a really good time and they asked me back.

GH: What is the clip we always see in these reunion specials where you are wearing a tuxedo jacket?

BF: That was a show called "Repertory" with Sonoma County Rep. I was the emcee of the piece. That was difficult because the writer kept changing the dialogue. And the parts that I had were like two or three minute monologues, where I was introducing a scene or summarizing a scene. It was all written in Shakespearean, but with a humorous twist to the prose. It was rough.

GH: Did you get a lot of last minute script changes when you were doing "The Partridge Family"?

BF: No, not really. I mean, it was mostly the director that may have been blocking a scene a certain way and sometimes dialogue may not have worked. You're always fine tuning things.

GH: If you had input in a new Partridge Family movie, what would you like to see Chris doing as an adult?

BF: Well, obviously Chris needs to have a life! [Laughs] About the only thing we knew about Chris is his age, he played the drums and he liked the Dodgers. There wasn't much to know. So he needs a life and a character. If we ever do a reunion, I want to be some sort of a Keith Moon knocking the drum sets over. I think it would be a blast!

GH: When did you meet the first Chris, Jeremy Gelbwaks?

BF: Nick At Nite did this New Years Eve celebration and their big shtick was introducing the two of us. I thought we were going to be the minor character, and we get there and they met me at the gate with a Mercedes rental car! Then I get to the hotel and there's a bowl of fruit waiting for me, and I couldn't understand it. Then I realized that we were the featured attraction, so that explained the red carpet treatment. But it was very eye opening. I had never met Jeremy - I had just heard the stories. But all of the stuff I had heard about him was true! At one point he was acting up between scenes by snapping his fingers and saying, "Hey! PA! I need some water!" I thought, "Oh my God! It's really true!" I went off stage to the PA and apologized for the guy. I told him all Chrises aren't like that [laughs].

GH: How was he when you were all on Danny's talk show?

BF: They did this little impromptu bit where they asked us what we remembered about Danny and the show. I think I told the story about us both having a crush on the same girl. So I turned it to Jeremy and asked what memories he had. He just goes, "I don't have any." I couldn't believe it. He was just freaking out during that whole thing. We were back in the green room and he's going, "I don't know why I am here. Why am I here? Is he going to embarrass me on TV?" He was pacing back and forth, saying he was going to leave. So Suzanne and I told him everything would be fine. Maybe because he had such a bad experience with Danny, memories were coming back or something.

GH: Fortunately for the millions of fans worldwide, the memories are anything but bad!

While we make a pitstop and refuel the bus, stay tuned for our continuing series of interviews with cast and crew members as we celebrate over 30 happy years with The Partridge Family!

2003 Scott Awley for www.cmongethappy.com and respective copyright holders (photos). All rights reserved. No portion of the text of this article may be produced in any form without the written permission of the author.

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