From a distance...

"Danny and the Mob"

Sheriff Swell

ABC-TV Movie

"Where the hell is Cassidy?"
Shawn Pyfrom as Danny

Danny Vanilli
Play It!

Je m'appelle Jodie

Wes Stern, with Bobby Sherman

The Partridge Kids

The layout that rocked the bus

The bus rolls to a stop

An Interview with 


GH: Both David and Susan have spent a lot of time trying to distance themselves from the show – although David seems to have embraced it lately. Why don’t they just sit down and answer the fans’ questions so it will finally go away?

DB: Well, you’re right and you’re wrong. They should be willing to talk about it, but it will never go away. Here it is, 30 years later, the new millennium, and we are sitting on my boat still talking about it. But I’m all for that. At this point there is nothing that being on The Partridge Family can do for me. But I am more than willing and honored and pleased to be telling Partridge Family stories. That’s the difference between us. It was a wonderful show and a wonderful time and anybody who doesn’t think so is mistaken. And David is mistaken and Susan is incredibly mistaken.

GH: Which episodes stand out the most in your mind?

DB: I will absolutely tell you my favorite episodes! The one where Danny was being chased by gangsters (“Danny and the Mob”) is a favorite. Incidentally, The Partridge Family was the very first show to use the word, “mob” instead of “mafia”, because “mafia” was considered a derogatory term against the Italians. In fact, it was “mafia" in the script, but when we went to shoot, we had to change it. Pat Harrington, Dick Bakalyan, and Vic Tayback were in it. I remember one story –  I’m not sure how to tell you – where Vic Tayback and Dick Bakalyan had to pick me up by the armpits and carry me back to Pat Harrington, whose character didn’t know I was a child. Well, after about the 50th take, I was raw and almost bleeding. So they ended up taping kotex under both my arms to ease the pain.

GH: Were there any others?

DB: The Christmas episode (“Don’t Bring Your Guns To Town, Santa”) is an all-time favorite too. And the one with Mary Ann Mobley at King’s Island in Cincinnati (“I Left My Heart In Cincinnati”) was fun too. When you shoot these shows on film, you have to do these scenes over and over and over. And we had to ride the rides all day long. I spent that whole week just staggering around and throwing up, which was a precursor to how I spent the 80s! 

GH: Were there any episodes – other than the one mentioned – that were painful?

DB: I don’t really remember any being painful. I was really ill-mannered by the third season, though.

GH: That’s strange you say that, because everyone who we interviewed so far has nothing but glowing things to say about you.

DB: That’s because I can destroy them now on the radio! (Laughs) Actually, that’s very nice that they don’t go out of their way to say anything, but the fact of the matter is I was an ill-mannered young man that treated adults badly. There’s a lot in my life to regret and that’s one of my big ones. I remember holding up production more than once because I was not ready to perform. As a matter of fact, on the set of the movie of The Partridge Family, the little kid playing me was being interviewed by Entertainment Tonight. They asked him what I taught him. So he folds his arms and says, “Where the hell is Cassidy?” I was so full of myself.

GH:What do you remember about the album and single that you released?

DB: That should have been called Danny Vanilli! You can barely hear me on that, I hardly sang. A really talented singer and musician named Bruce Roberts sang most of it, especially the high notes. 

GH: Did you tour around with that?

DB: I remember doing a couple of appearances for the album and singing a song called “Sunshine”, I think. There’s a line in it where I had to say the word “damned” and I remember the audience got in an uproar because I said that word.

GH: What do you remember about working with Jodie Foster?

DB: I may have been full of myself, but I remember thinking Jodie Foster was an “actress”. Get this: When we weren’t filming, she didn’t speak English – ever. She only spoke French. At 7 years old. The teacher couldn’t talk to her, director, etc. She only spoke French. That was one of the only times I didn’t think I was the cat’s meow. She was amazing. Too bad her career went on to nothing!

GH: What other memories do you have of guest stars?

DB: I remember Bobby Sherman was a hard worker and a really nice guy. But the guy who was on the episode with him,Wes Stern, was very talented too. Bobby Sherman was never the star that David Cassidy was, though. David was as famous as Elvis or McCartney. Bobby Sherman was like New Kids On The Block in comparison. That’s how big David was. 

GH: When you broke from filming for hiatus, did you return to public school?

DB: I tried. It didn’t work out. I was expelled – and I forgot a lot of this stuff till I started doing radio out here and people called the show to remind me. I was expelled from the 5th grade three times because I had a propensity towards violence. The upside – if there is one – to being smacked around by Dad. If you get smacked around by a grown-up and you don’t die, you no longer fear any 12 year-old. 

GH: Many of the episode themes revolved around your character. Did you find that to be a burden?

DB: No. Not at all. In fact my mother and I used to count the lines to see who had the most lines. Any time I didn’t have the most lines, I was concerned. I have the #1 Radio show in LA right now. I make more money every three months now than I did the entire time on The Partridge Family. But the fact of the matter is when I go into work in the morning, I have a card key that opens the lock. If it doesn’t open on the first try, I think I’ve been fired. Same thing with The Partridge Family. If I didn’t have more lines than Keith, I thought I was on my way out.

GH: How did you relieve yourself of that stress?

DB: In all sincerity, I never thought it was stressful. I had real stress at home. There was no stress on The Partridge Family. Other than my wife and child, that show is the best thing to happen to me.

GH: David Cassidy felt the stress, and tried to disassociate himself from the role by posing nude in Rolling Stone magazine. Did that affect the atmosphere on the set?

DB: I thought it was weird because that was the first pubic hair I had ever seen, including on my own body. I remember the panic running around that set. People were terrified. People thought their careers were over.

GH: How did Shirley feel about that?

DB: Everybody was pretty mad. Looking back at it now, though, the only thing I would be mad about is he denigrated his fans in the article. There were quotes in there that made it seem he felt his fans were idiots. There was a time when I had a rule that I wouldn’t sign autographs when I was eating. You want my autograph now? Sit down and eat my food. I cannot be more grateful for what I have now. But he was a kid.

GH:How did you feel about the time change from Friday to Saturday night? Were you aware?

DB: Yeah, I did know. And I got into a lot of trouble, too. I was on American Bandstand and they asked how I felt about being switched to Saturday nights and I said, “The theory is that there are two televisions in every house, and the kids will watch The Partridge Family and the adults will watch All In The Family. Then I said “But I disagree – I think All In The Family is going to win us out.” And it did. My father was writing for them, too.

GH: How did you get the final cancellation notice?

DB: At the gate with my mother. We pulled in one morning and the guard wouldn’t open the gate. We usually just waved, and he didn’t open the gate. He said “What are you doing here?” And we said, "going to work”. That happened once before too. There was no shooting because David just had his gall bladder removed unexpectedly. So when the gate didn’t open we wondered what had happened. And the guard said, “Hey man, the Partridge Family doesn’t live here anymore.” My Mom and I made a U-turn and never went back.

GH: Were you upset about that or relieved?

DB: Relieved. Not in the sense that I was glad it was over, because it was a blast every day. But I thought it would be cool to go to school, meet some girls, and have some stuff to do. Of course I was wrong.

GH: You have taken full responsibility for your actions in life. Other ex-child stars blame the business, their series, etc. for their troubles. Why do you feel that it wasn’t the show biz life that was the cause?

DB: Why do I say that? Because I am right. And they are wrong. I don’t think for one minute they believe their series pushed them into drugs or crime. The only time I was wrong was with Paul Petersen [actor from The Donna Reed Show, who formed “A Minor Consideration” – an organization that fights for the rights of child actors. – ed.] I used to do the talk show circuit in what I like to call “Ex-Child Stars Gone Wrong” or “The Has-Beens On Parade Talk Show Tour”.  When I started doing them with Petersen, I thought, “OK – his act is to pretend he cares; Todd Bridges, Dana Plato, Gary Coleman, Eddie Munster, and the rest are so screwed and truly bitter; and my act is to be funny about it.” It’s one of the few times in life I have been wrong about human nature because I am a good judge. Usually I judge rather harshly and therefore I am usually right. But Paul Petersen really does care about people. I think there are many causes that are more worthy of his efforts than child actors, but he truly does care. It’s no act. That is a truly decent guy.

GH: How was your life different after the series was cancelled?

DB: It seemed the same. Except instead of being on the set during the day, I was at school. The hours were the same.

GH: Did you consider yourself an “actor”? 

DB: I may have then, I don’t now.

GH: When you auditioned for parts did you feel stereotyped as Danny Partridge?

DB: Well, “stereotyped” means there are jobs I didn’t get because I was Danny Partridge. There are several hundred jobs I didn’t get before I was Danny Partridge, too. I once interviewed Russell Johnson, who played The Professor on Gilligan’s Island and he was so angry at the fact that it ruined his career. What did he do before? A bunch of B Movies. He didn’t have much of a career before that show, so who knows what would have happened? Same with me.

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