Shaun Cassidy is an American singer-producer, actor and writer, who gained popularity in the ‘70s and arose as one of the most popular teen idols whose posters likely graced the walls of his numerous fans. Initially, he grabbed the public’s attention as a celebrity kid, the son of the legendary actress Shirley Jones and the Tony-award-winning actor Jack Cassidy. Regardless of his family ties and connection, Shaun became a worldwide recognized performer for his cover of “Da Doo Ron Ron”, and the role of Joe Hardy in “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.” However, Shaun has been focusing on his work behind the camera rather than in front since the new millennium started. As a result, fans wonder what he is doing now, and whether he’s still actively engaged in the entertainment industry.
Early Life and Family
Shaun was born on 27 September 1958, in Los Angeles, California, USA. His parents, Shirley and Jack, married in August 1956, a month after Jack divorced his first wife, Evelyn Ward, with whom he had welcomed a son named David Cassidy. Shirley Jones is a seasoned actress with numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the drama film “Elmer Gantry” (1960). In the ’70s, she cemented her place as a star, portraying Shirley Partridge in the mega-popular sitcom “The Partridge Family” alongside her stepson David.
On the other hand, Shaun’s father, Jack rose to stardom on Broadway, and later transitioned to TV. Besides the Tony Award, Jack received the Grammy Award for his work on the musical “She Loves Me.” Unfortunately, his parents divorced in 1975, and the following year Jack passed away in a house fire that swept through his penthouse apartment.
Shaun grew up alongside his two younger brothers, Patrick and Ryan, and led a life of relative privilege. He attended the private Solebury School, and later matriculated from Beverly Hills High School.
Road to Success- Music Career
Shaun kicked off his career during his high school days, after signing a contract with Warner Bros. Following several successful hit singles, in 1977, Shaun released his debut self-titled album, which later went platinum. His cover of “Da Doo Ron Ron,” originally sung by the Crystals, became the number-one single in US, garnering a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. He continued his streak of successful singles with “That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll”, penned by Eric Carmen, which peaked at No.3 after becoming a hit in Australia and Europe.
Shaun then embarked on his first live tour through the US, and despite his enormous success and status as a teen celebrity, he remained humble; he said: ‘The idea of being any kind of an idol is kind of embarrassing. My self-worth was never rooted in that.’
A year after his first album, Shaun followed it up with “Born Late,” which featured several songs co-written by himself, showing his true artistry. Once again, Eric Carmen wrote the hit song for Shaun entitled “Hey Deanie,” which charted at number seven. His second single and cover of the rock band The Lovin’ Spoonful entitled “Do You Believe in Magic” did not match the success of his previous songs, charting at 31 on Billboard.
Nonetheless, the album eventually went platinum, but it came with a fair share of mixed critiques. Teen heartthrob then released his third album, “Under Wraps,” which landed at number 33 on Billboard, led by the single “Out Night,” which did not grab the public’s attention.
This album didn’t reach his previous success, and signaled a dramatic shift from his last album, serving as a reminder that his teen-star appeal was fading.
A Series of Commercial Failures
Shaun tried to get back on the track in 1979, by releasing his fourth album “Room Service” and the lead single “You’re Usin’ Me”, but it became his first commercial failure after the single failed to chart on Billboard’s 200. In addition to the album underperforming in sales and on charts, it received plenty of criticism – Ralph Heibutzki wrote a review. saying:’ The real issue is Cassidy’s lack of distinctive material to call his own. He and Lloyd wrote or co-wrote all but one song, “The Letter”, so they definitely have to shoulder the blame. Cassidy might have had better luck if he’d stuck to his stripped-down guns on “Fallin’ Into You”.’
In 1980 he experimented with a different musical approach, and released his fifth and last album “Wasp”. Testing the pop/rock waters, the album featured two song covers – David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” and Ian Hunter’s “Once Bitten, Twice Shy, but” this album also proved to be a commercial flop, failing to chart on Billboard.
His Career as an Actor
During the peak of his music career, in 1977 Shaun further cemented his path to success in the entertainment business by landing the role of Joe Hardy in the mystery series “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries”, alongside Parker Stevenson and Pamela Sue Martin. Based on the classic eponymous book series written by ghostwriters, the show became an instant hit, captivating the audiences with compelling plots. The series ran for three seasons, but was canceled abruptly during the third season due to low ratings, and the network’s new strategy.
Two years later, Shaun starred as Roger Meyer in the drama TV movie “Like Normal People”. In 1980, he portrayed the recurring character Dave Stoller in “Breaking Away”, but at the start of the ’80s, with his music career heading south, Shaun opted to follow in his father’s footsteps and try his luck on Broadway. Subsequently, he appeared in several productions, including the national tour “Mass Appeal,” “Bus Stop,” and “Blood Brothers” alongside his half-brother David. Talking later to a media outlet, Shaun commented on the on-stage ‘animosity’ between him and David, saying: ‘We don’t have traditional sibling rivalry, but we’re close. We shared a mutual experience that is kind of unique, we compared notes. But I had an advantage: I saw him go through it.’
In 1985, Shaun switched back to TV, and portrayed David Dischinger in an episode of “American Playhouse.” In 1987 he was cast as a regular in the medical series “General Hospital”, and he also made a one-episode appearance in the famous murder/mystery series “Murder, She Wrote.” In 1988, he starred in two made-for-TV films, “Once upon a Texas Train” and “Roots: The Gift,” and appeared in an episode of “Matlock.” His last appearance ws in the short movie “Your Studio and You” in 1995.
His Career as a Writer and Producer
In the early ’90s, Shaun transitioned from a singer and actor to a writer/screenwriter and producer. One of his first projects was writing the script for the TV movie “Strays”. Then in 1994, he wrote “Midnight Run for Your Life.” Finally in 1995, he worked on the pilot for the horror series “American Gothic,” which saw the green light from the production, and Shaun also served as the show’s producer. The writing of this project changed the course of his career, and paved the path for him to create and produce numerous other series. Even though the show was canceled after just one season, it was positively received by the critics and the audience – some called it ‘the most original show of the season.’
Shaun then worked on the series “Roar,” starring young Heath Ledger, writing and executive producing it. In 1997, he wrote the pilot for “Players,” starring Ice-T.
After finding success in other avenues of his profession, Shaun kicked off the new millennium writing and producing “Cover Me: Based on the True Life of an FBI Family,” “Agency’, and “Cold Case,” the last of which was a super popular crime series.
In 2005, Universal Television hired him as the executive producer of the drama series “Invasion,” and the media executive Bela Bajarie praised Shaun’s abilities, saying:’ ‘(he) is a talented creator and a skilled showrunner. With his vast experience in the entertainment business, he understands all angles of making a TV show. He is also a strong supervisor to other writers, and we are excited to have a deal with him.’
He then worked on several other projects, such as “Ruby and the Rockits,” “Blue Bloods,” and “Emerald City.”
Our entire @NBCNewAmsterdam writing staff (minus our beloved @GrahamKNorris who’s manning the fort in NY) came to play w me in Vegas. @lauravaldivia is the shy woman down front. #DamFam #NewAmsterdam pic.twitter.com/COw9Du82By
— Shaun Cassidy (@shaunpcassidy) February 16, 2020
What is he doing now?
Since 2018, Shaun has served as one of the executive producers for the medical/drama series “New Amsterdam,” starring Ryan Eggold, Freema Agyeman, and Janet Montgomery. The show premiered in 2018 and has run for four seasons – in March 2022, NBC announced that the show would end after the fifth season, set to air in 2022/2023. Furthermore, it seems that Shaun is very busy working for the NBC as a producer on several shows – in March 2022, he posted a photo featuring the news that Scott Bakula would star in the pilot for Shaun’s series “Unbroken”, and wrote: ‘I’ve been wanting to work with Scott since we were kids at Universal, and I’m so excited that he’s taking this journey with us. We couldn’t ask for a stronger actor or better man to share the road with.’
Besides his continuous and active involvement as a producer, since 2019 Shaun has returned to the music scene/concert stage with his “Magic of the Midnight Sky” tour. Claiming that his show is a hybrid of theater and pop, he sang all of his hits, and shared stories of his life and his family with the audience. During his performances, Shaun paid tribute to his late half-brother David, by singing the song from “Blood Brothers” entitled “Tell me It’s Not True” and “I’ll meet you halfway,” which was the hit song David sang in “Partridge Family.”
According to his official site, his 2022 tour starts in June, with shows scheduled in New York, Nebraska, and Illinois.
Shaun also collaborated with No Kid Hungry, and the award-winning winemaker Steve Clifton, for a line of luxury wines entitled My First Crush, which can also be purchased on his site. In the description, Shaun wrote: ‘For the last decade, our family has been fortunate to call the Santa Barbara wine country home. Because so many of our friends are farmers and winemakers, we’ve learned to appreciate the bounty of extraordinary food and wines this area has to offer.’
Is he married?
Shaun walked down the aisle three times – in December 1979, he married the model Ann Pennington, best known as the playmate of the month In Playboy Magazine. They had two children: Caitlin, born in 1981, and Jake, born in 1985, but divorced in 1993. Two years later, Shaun married the actress Susan Diol with whom he had a daughter Juliet born in 1998, but this marriage, as well – they parted ways in 2003.
In 2004 he tried his luck for the third time, and tied the knot with Tracey Lynne Turner, with whom he welcomed four children; Caleb, Roan, Lila and Mairin. The presumably happy couple is currently living in California.
What is Shaun Cassidy’s net worth?
As of 2022, his estimated net worth is in the range of $20 million, which he’s earned throughout his career spanning five decades. In addition to his numerous endeavors in the entertainment industry, Shaun earns through his luxury wine brand and his tours.
Scandals in the Family
Allegedly, Shaun’s father Jack, who was born into a dysfunctional family, battled numerous demons during his life. In addition to his reputation as a womanizer, Jack was diagnosed with bipolar and manic-depressive disorder a couple of years before he died. According to the statements by Shirley Jones, his behavior was becoming intolerable, and he would often have mood swings, which made their relationship even more volatile. Although Shirley was always well aware of his indiscretions, she said: ‘I was still madly in love with him, and my awareness of his many infidelities, in whatever permutations he chose, didn’t tarnish my love for him.’
Later, she recalled some of his other odd behaviors, such as asking her to engage in a threesome with a Las Vegas dancer named Jean. Furthermore, Shirley talked about his struggles with alcoholism, which severely affected his private and professional life, and played a role in his unfortunate death. Reportedly, Jack was heavily intoxicated when he arrived at his penthouse, lit up a cigarette and fell asleep. It is believed that the cigarette caused the fire and ultimately cost him his life. His charred body was identified through dental records, as it was in a virtually unrecognizable state.
As they say, the apple does not fall far from the tree, and this particular saying proved to be true when talking about the life of Jack’s first son, David. Having found fame during his teenage years, David couldn’t cope with it, and his enormous popularity. One of his reactions to overwhelming pressure and watchful eyes was appearing nude on the cover of Rolling Stone, accompanied by the article claiming that David was driving in New York “stoned and drunk.”
David was married three times, but none of his marriages lasted any longer than his third. Allegedly, his third marriage – to Sue Shifrin – fell apart due to his excessive alcohol consumption and prescription medication abuse; he was also diagnosed with depression. Later, he began having clashes with the law, being arrested three times for driving under the influence; he was once apprehended for fleeing a scene after colliding with another car, for which David received two years on probation, and his license was suspended for five years. Unfortunately, this would not be his last run-in with the law enforcement- he was again arrested in Los Angeles for drinking under the influence of alcohol and painkillers.
In 2015, he divorced Sue and declared bankruptcy, with the Florida court claiming that he was over $10 million in debt. In 2017 he was diagnosed with dementia, and during the same year, he was hospitalized for liver and kidney failure, and put into a clinically induced coma. David woke up from the coma after two days, and was in line for a kidney transplant, but died of liver failure that year, aged 67. Similar to his father, he didn’t leave anything to his children and ex-wives, but a pile of debts, and a variety of memories.