"Monkey in a cage?"

America's favorite Mom!

Screen Gems' V.P., "Hone$t" Ed Justin with his PF merchandise

The Cassidys

At the Emmy Awards

"Incredible human being"

"He & She"

Jack, as his idol, John Barrymore in the drama, "W.C. Fields and Me"

An Interview with


GH: Itís one thing to have the responsibility of being a mother to your own kids, but how did you handle the fact that all these kids were camping on your front lawn, wanting you for their mother as well?

SJ: It was sad actually. I felt really sorry for these people. First of all, they thought David lived in my house, which he didnít. That was a big problem, Secondly, they wanted me to be their mother. So it was a very sad situation. Sometimes I would give them bus fare to go home or get a telephone number and call their family. In many ways, that made me nervous about the show, because I felt this show was such a fantasy for these people.

GH: Well, you were the perfect mother!

SJ: But it was a fantasy. I felt maybe we were doing something wrong here in allowing these kids to believe this.

GH: It also gives you an awful lot of unsolicited responsibility.

SJ: Exactly! Thatís for sure.

GH: Did you participate in royalties from the merchandise?

SJ: I donít recall us having that deal, no. I was in on the records, but I think we did the merchandising later. It was one of those things that was left out and we had to do redo the contract.

GH: Is that around the time when David reworked his contract?

SJ: Exactly. Thatís when it happened.

GH: Around this time [1972] Jack asked you for a separation. You had to deal with this on top of leading a series. Was this a difficult period for you?

SJ: Oh, very much so.

GH: How long were you apart?

SJ: About a year.

GH: When the two of you reunited, you formed a touring show. What can you tell us about that?

SJ: It was called The Marriage Band. It was a whole show that had a storyline about marriage. We had singers and dancers and opened at the MGM Grand in Vegas. We toured with it to about 20 cities, then brought it back to Vegas.

GH: When would you tour?

SJ: I believe it was during the summer, when we were on hiatus.

GH: What events finally made you decide that the marriage wasnít going to work?

SJ: Jack had a breakdown. A real mental breakdown. He was manic depressive. But he was the one that wanted the divorce. He thought it was better for me and the kids. I never did. I would have hung in there. I felt in many ways he was acting strangely and doing strange things and he felt perhaps it was better for all of us.

GH: Recent TV specials and movies seemed to focus on the "dark" side of Jack. Obviously there was quite a "bright" side as well. Rather than focus on the dark, what can you tell us of the bright?

SJ: He was an incredible human being. Incredibly talented, number one! He had this charisma that, when he walked in the room, not only women fell all over him, but men did too. He attracted everybody. He had a great, great sense of humor, which of course was the first attraction for me. Obviously Iím attracted to men with a sense of humor! (Laughs) Thatís the biggest thing. Not to mention he was as handsome as he was. For me, that was the least of it. The fact that he could make jokes about himself and that he didnít take himself that seriously made him interesting and exciting.

GH: He had such an incredible range in his talent. He could go from broad comedy to dark drama. Not too many actors have that range.

SJ: Exactly! He did that He & She [comedy] series.

GH: And he got great revues in that.

SJ: Yes, he did! And everything that he touched on Broadway was his show. I donít care who the star was. If Jack was in the show, he got the revues.

GH: After a while, David became dissatisfied with his role as Keith and the confusion the public had between David/Keith. Did that conflict spill over onto the set at all?

SJ: He voiced it and you would see it at times. David had his moods as well, and towards the end, was very unhappy with the series and the image that was out there. He wanted to change. He wanted to try and change. So every once in a while he had a problem. He was pretty good about it. David is a pro. He knew what he had to do and he was very good at his responsibility.

GH: One of the ways David tried to change his public image, was to be interviewed and photographed semi-nude for Rolling Stone magazine. What was the atmosphere like on the set and with Screen Gems?

SJ: I donít think they were too thrilled. He was the teen idol of America whose audience was primarily 8 or 9 year old girls. So I think they were afraid there was going to be an explosion there with the parents of these children and his audience.

GH: How did you feel about it? Were you upset?

SJ: No. It was his choice. I didnít guide Davidís career or tell him what to do.

GH: Were you afraid that it would affect the showís ratings?

SJ: No. Actually, I was really looking out for what was right for David. We have the same manager, so obviously she thought it was the best thing to happen for him.

On to Page 5
Back to People and Places