When ABC commissioned The Partridge Family, they didn’t expect that wouldn’t just have a hit TV series, they would also have a big new musical act. Not only did the show get nominated for several Golden Globe Awards they were also nominated for Best New Artist at the 1971 Grammy Awards. Although only David Cassidy and Shirley Jones (who played Keith and Shirley respectively) were featured on the cast recordings, The Partridge Family delivered eight studio albums, three of which made the top 10 on the Billboard Album Chart. They even had a number one single with the poppy I Think I Love You.
The premise follows a musical family taking their shot at success in the music industry. They begin by writing and performing music in their garage before they get discovered and watch their profile rise. The band is led by matriarch Shirley Partridge, a sweet and committed widowed mother to Keith, Laurie, Danny, Chris, and Tracy. They form The Partridge Family and take their show on the road.
The show ran for four seasons. The first three were major successes for the studio but when the fourth season rolled around, fans had moved on. The producers tried to spice things up with new characters and poppier songs to keep audiences interested but after little to no success they cancelled the show. This didn’t stop other networks including TV Land and Nickelodeon from picking up the series for syndication where it is still run to this day.
The Partridge Family was loosely based on the real life Cowsill family. The studio even wanted the band to play characters on the show but they refused after they brought in Shirley Jones to replace the mother of the band. The Cowsills continue to perform to this day and last year they wrapped their nationwide Happy Together tour.
Although the show didn’t run for very long, it is still a staple series that is highly regarded as an acclaimed TV show that captured an era. They even tried to revive the series in the mid 2000s with a spinoff that featured now Hollywood It girl Emma Stone. Fans just love the talented, compassionate, and close-knit family.
We have your look back at all things Partridge. Check back in with your favorite characters and clue in to what the actors are up to today. We’re sure you’ll be surprised to learn a few new things about the beloved Partridge Family.
Shirley Jones as Shirley Partridge
As the doting matriarch of the family, Shirley is always watching out for her family. She loves her children and would do anything for them. As a single mother, she knows that time is special and after her husband passes she takes on a new carpe diem approach to life. Her talent is front and center in the band but is generous about sharing the spotlight with her family. Shirley is a well-respected member of her church and community and rocks it on vocals, keyboard, and tambourine.
Shirley Jones – today
Academy Award winner Shirley Jones went on to star in her own series, Shirley, after The Partridge Family wrapped in 1974. Fans of the Partridge’s may be surprised to learn that Jones was co-star David Cassidy’s real-life stepmother. After he tragically passed last year, Jones opened up to reporters about her grief and devastation. She said that they had grown apart in recent years but that she was heartbroken over his loss. At 83 years old Jones continues to work in Hollywood and will next appear in the adventure thriller Beyond Legend Johnny Kakota.
Danny Bonaduce as Danny Partridge
With his long ginger hair and freckled complexion, Danny Partridge is a highly referenced character to this day for his iconic look. He is the middle child in the family and the bass player. While he does display musical talent throughout the series, he has quite the brain for business. He is the one that tracks down their manager and convinces him to take the family on as a client. His spunk and mischievous nature comes in handy from time to time.
Danny Bonaduce – today
Danny Bonaduce continued his hand at acting for awhile after The Partridge Family but after only appearing in a series of bit parts, he quit acting altogether. For several years in the mid-2000s Bonaduce’s career achievements were overshadowed by his frequent run-ins with the law and for his multiple failed relationships. He has bounced back and is married to actress Amy Railsback. The larger-than-life Bonaduce is now a morning radio host based in Seattle, Washington.
Jeremy Gelbwaks as Chris Partridge
Jeremy Gelbwaks played the youngest Partridge member, Chris Partridge, for one season before Brian Forster took over in season two. His family decided that Hollywood wasn’t the place for their young son and took him out of the industry altogether. The doe-eyed and innocent Chris captured audiences with his sweetness and his musical chops as a singer and drummer in the band. Fans loved to watch the little one take the mic and lead a tune.
Jeremy Gelbwaks – today
After Gelbwaks left the show, tabloids began to circulate that the young actor was difficult to work with on set and that his family was too demanding. We later learned that the real reason for his departure was that a job took his father out of state and the family had to move. Gelbwaks never returned to acting. Instead he studied business at Columbia University in New York City and now works as a management consultant in New Orleans.
Brian Forster as Chris Partridge
The Partridge Family had to do what all TV shows with children stars take the risk in doing: replace their young actor. After Jeremy Gelbwaks left the series the producers hired the young Brian Forster. There was a major difference between the two actors. While Gelbwaks had dark hair and and a freckled complexion, Forster had lighter skin and long blonde hair and bright blue eyes. The producers anticipated a disaster but audiences adjusted to the change quickly and rallied behind the new Chris Partridge.
Brian Forster – today
Brian Forster didn’t take long before deciding that Hollywood wasn’t for him. After completing his run on the show he moved back to Northern California where he lives to this day. He treated acting as a hobby and appeared in community theater from time to time (and still does occasionally to this day). He lives a quiet life out of the spotlight but he did work as a race car driver and coach in the early ‘00s.
Rick Segall as Ricky Stevens
The show’s producers brought on new kid Ricky Stevens to spice things up on the show. Ratings dipped going into the fourth season and they tried to heat the drama up. Ricky is a precocious kid interested in music industry while his family is not such a fan. In fact, they call the police to report the Partridge’s too-loud rehearsal time. His family just moved to the neighborhood and create trouble but Ricky sneaks off to listen to the family’s beautiful tunes.
Rick Segall – today
While many actors from the Family quit acting, Rick Segall continued his career appearing in hit shows including Little House on the Prairie. He also led an impressive career on the stage and appeared in the hit Los Angeles-based play Divorce: The Musical. He wrote and starred in his critically acclaimed, one-man show called Barbarian. The production featured the actor as a variety of characters and fans were eager to catch a glimpse of the former Partridge actor.
Alan Oppenheimer as Lorenzo Bernard
Alan Oppenheimer plays a few bit parts on the show before the show’s producers gave him a part he could sink his teeth into. He played Lorenzo Bernard, an art teacher in a memorable episode from season four. He encourages Shirley to pursue her artistic abilities and praises her for her art work. When it is revealed that her output is actually quite less than perfect, her family realizes that Lorenzo is just crushing on Shirley.
Alan Oppenheimer – today
Veteran actor Alan Oppenheimer has appeared in more than 300 projects for the screen. He was nominated for an Emmy in 1991 for his appearance on the hit sitcom Murphy Brown. The iconic actor has appeared in a number of hit series including Married with Children and Gilmore Girls. At 87 years old he is not letting his age get in the way of his career. He spends much of his time voicing animated characters for films and video games and most recently voiced the Scientist in the animated adventure film 9.
Susan Dey as Laurie Partridge
Laurie Partridge is the beautiful and sweet second child in the musical family. She provides the backup vocals as well as her talent on the keys. She’s highly regarded for her intellect and brains and is tapped into politics and world events. She references the goings-on of the world around her and expresses great interest in the world outside of the band. The performance made actress Susan Dey a bonafide star which brought its own set of challenges.
Susan Dey – today
Susan Dey’s rise to fame was marred with personal ailments. After her early success she developed an eating disorder that she struggled to overcome. She has since documented her illness and her road to recovery. In 1986 she starred in L.A. Law and won a Golden Globe for her role as the tough as nails Grace Van Owen. She left Hollywood in 2004 and has maintained a low-key profile outside of the flashing lights and movie sets.
Rob Reiner as Snake
The goofy Harry “Snake” Murphy is played with humor and wit by acclaimed film director (and part-time actor) Rob Reiner. He is a tattooed motorcyclist that rolls into town and befriends Laurie. She develops an interest in him but he explains that he wants to propose to his longtime girlfriend and is unsure about the best way to go about it. Laurie lends him a hand and the couple end up getting married at the Partridge family home.
Rob Reiner – today
Rob Reiner isn’t just the famous actor from All in the Family and New Girl, he is also the incredibly successful director of the coming-of-age Stand by Me, the horror Misery, and the fantasy The Princess Bride just to name a few. In 1992 he was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar for the legal drama A Few Good Men. His next film, the journalism drama Shock and Awe, starring Woody Harrelson and Tommy Lee Jones, will be released in June.
Charlotte Rae as Dr. Beecher
After Shirley is confronted about Danny’s misbehavior in the classroom, she doesn’t know what to do. Eventually she decides to take him to a school psychologist. Enter: Dr. Beecher. She tells Shirley that Danny feels powerless in the family and that the dynamic of the family makes Danny feel left out. Shirley takes the advice to heart and decides to give Danny more freedom, much to this siblings’ dismay. Danny learns the difficulties of being adult and chooses to just be a kid.
Charlotte Rae – today
Rae’s six-decade career has spanned from the film and television to the stage and even video games. She was nominated for an Emmy for her hilarious portrayal of Edna Garrett in Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. In 2015 she authored her first book, the autobiographical The Fact of My Life. Her latest role in the Meryl Streep-starrer drama Ricki and the Flash was her last project and last year she was diagnosed with bone cancer.
Annette O’Toole as Carol
Carol shows up in just one episode of Family as Keith’s girlfriend. Keith sets out to find and purchase a new car. Unfortunate for him the car needed consistent repairs. He spends all of his money on this car and doesn’t have enough money for a nice date with girlfriend Carol. She anxiously waits for him to ask her to prom but he says that he can’t afford the date. He ends up selling his car and taking Carol anyway.
Annette O’Toole – today
O’Toole is a famous singer-songwriter and actress famous for playing roles in a number of fantasy genre projects. She played Clark Kent’s mother in Smallville, Lana Lang in Superman III, and Beverly Marsh in Stephen King’s It miniseries. In 2003 she was nominated for an Academy Award for writing a song with her husband, Michael McKean, for the comedy film A Mighty Wind. She met McKean while filming Laverne & Shirley and they married in 1999. She will next appear in the comedy A Futile and Stupid Gesture.
Jodie Foster as Julie Lawrence
You may not know that the multi-Academy Award winning actress Jodie Foster appeared on The Partridge Family at just 11 years old. Her amazing career in Hollywood actually began at just age five. She played Julie, Shirley’s politician boyfriend’s quirky and bright daughter. She takes an immediate liking to Danny and won’t leave him alone throughout the entire visit. Danny gets fed up with Julie’s flirty ways and tries to shake her off. Finally Julie and her boyfriend take off for good.
Jodie Foster – today
Jodie Foster is one of the most critically acclaimed actresses in her field today. She won two Oscars for her lead roles in The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs. She became synonymous with playing dark and complicated women in films including Nell, Taxi Driver, Elysium, and The Brave One. She began directing in the ’80s and since her first project she has produced the major studio films Home for the Holidays and The Beaver. She will next star in the mysterious thriller Hotel Artemis.
Jaclyn Smith as Tina
Before Jaclyn Smith played the tough as nails Kelly Garrett in Charlie’s Angels, she made her television debut as the sweet and pure Tina. She is the beautiful young woman spotted with Larry during an episode in the first season. Keith and Laurie gossip and assume she is Larry’s secret lover. The more they observe the closer the pair appears to be. Much to their surprise it turns out that Tina is just Larry’s niece.
Jaclyn Smith – today
Jaclyn Smith’s most famous role was as the vulnerable agent, Kelly Garrett, in Charlie’s Angels. She appeared in more episodes on the series than any other actress. She reprised her role in a brief cameo in the Drew Barrymore-starring film adaptation in 2003. The Golden Globe-nominated actress last appeared in the Hallmark romantic comedy Bridal Wave. These days she can be found as the owner of the successful, high-end wig company called STYLE by Jaclyn Smith. In 1997 she married heart surgeon Dr. Brad Allen.
Barbara Rhoades as LaVon LeVine LaVern
Danny finds himself in a world of trouble when he meets the hilariously-named LaVon LeVine LaVern. During the episode Danny and the Mob he meets the provocative and canny LaVon. She is a cocktail waitress working at a club who asks Danny for stock advice. He obliges, unaware of her mob boyfriend’s stare just a few feet away. He confronts the young man and they exchange a few words. He backs off when he finally learns Danny’s real age.
Barbara Rhoades – today
Following her brief stint on The Partridge Family, Rhoades continued to act until her last appearance in 2011. She appeared in small roles in Starsky and Hutch, The Love Boat, Magnum, P.I., and Murder She Wrote. Rhoades was also a frequent player on the hit game show Match Game. The lovable redhead won audiences over with her quick wit and charm. She gave up Hollywood and lives a quiet life with her husband of nearly 40 years, TV producer Bernie Orenstein.
Barbara Sigel as Rachel
Barbara Sigel plays the persuasive and gorgeous Rachel, Keith’s new girlfriend who is also a star musician herself. She is a cellist in the school band and a lover of all things classical music. So much so, in fact, that she believes that rock and roll is lower tier to classical music. When she and Keith start dating she tells him that he’s wasting his talent away on pop music and argues that he would be taken more seriously as a classical musician. We all know how that turned out…
Barbara Sigel – today
Soon after receiving a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer in 1974, Sigel appeared in the crime drama series Nakia and the cop drama series Switch. Exasperated by the difficulties of trying to make it in Hollywood, Sigel took a long break from the spotlight. Her final role was opposite James Franco in the drama Howl. She now works in sales in Philadelphia. Last year she married photographer Cliff Johnson in an intimate wedding with friends and family.
Season Hubley as Princess Jennie
For her first television role, Season Hubley got to play royalty. She is a princess on vacation in San Pueblo, the very spot that the Partridge’s live. It’s an exciting moment for the town as they do not often get celebrities and lavish guests. She meets Keith while on vacation and agrees to go on a date with him to the movies. Their time is squashed, however, after pesky paparazzi interrupt the date and ruin the moment.
Season Hubley – today
The beautiful Season Hubley was a fixture in American television in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. She appeared in hit series including The Twilight Zone, All My Children, Murder She Wrote, and Beverly Hill, 90210, just to name a few. At the height of her career she was a frequent face in gossip and fashion magazines for her allure and also for her four year marriage to actor Kurt Russell. They have one child together, Boston.
Meredith Baxter as Jenny
In the episode Where Do Mermaids Go, Meredith Baxter plays a free-loving and easygoing hippie named Jenny. She comes from a family of enormous wealth but rejects her affluent upbringing. Instead she decides to rebel by skinny dipping in a pond near the Partridge family’s house. The awkward moment leads to regret for Jenny and as a thank you for the Partridge’s hospitality, she deposits one million dollars into their bank account as a thank you. She takes off and we don’t hear from Jenny again.
Meredith Baxter – today
Following her hippie turn on The Partridge Family, Baxter was cast in the short-lived sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie. Just a few years later she starred as Elyse Keaton in the hit ’80s comedy Family Ties. Her last acting role was in the teen drama Finding Carter. She decided to take a brief hiatus from Hollywood and spends much of her time with her wife contractor Nancy Locke. The couple live a life out of the spotlight in Los Angeles.
Elaine Giftos as Bonnie Kleinschmidt
Sweet and lovely Bonnie briefly dates Rueben after he calls off his engagement. She is his first foray back into the romantic world. She is patient with him as he navigates his way and mends his broken heart but the relationship doesn’t last long. Unfortunately they call off the relationship and they each go their separate ways. While Elaine Giftos’s stint on the series was short, it paved the way for a successful career in Hollywood.
Elaine Giftos – today
This former New York City ballerina moved to the City of Angels to make it big in Hollywood. Giftos landed the lead role of love interest Debbie in the 1974 drama The Wrestler. She starred in the indie films Angel and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever as well as Ally McBeal, Magnum P.I., and Hawaii Five-O on the TV side. She has since retired and was married to producer Herbert Wright until he tragically passed away in 2005.
David Cassidy as Keith Partridge
While the cool and charismatic Keith Partridge may try to act better-than-thou when it comes to the band, he cares very deeply for his family. He could sometimes act cavalier and pig-headed at times but his talent shines as the lead singer of the group. Fans of the show adored the heartthrob and teens across the country had his face plastered onto their bedroom walls. His long hair and piercing eyes made millions fall in love with him (both on screen and off).
David Cassidy – deceased
While David Cassidy continued to act and sing after finishing The Partridge Family his career never hit quite the same high as the show. Subsequently he struggled with alcohol abuse and issues with the law. He also admitted before his passing that he was not a present father to his two children, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy and actor Beau Cassidy. He passed away late last year from liver and kidney failure. His final role was a guest spot on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Suzanne Crough as Tracy Partridge
Tracy Partridge is the sweetheart of the family. With an angelic face and voice of an angel, she is often viewed as the mediator of the group. She provides backup vocals from time to time but mostly delivers on the tambourine. The character was mostly quiet (in fact, the writers didn’t give her much to say at all) but is remembered as a vital member of the family. She’s the fifth and youngest Partridge and was portrayed with tenderness and compassion by the late Suzanne Crough.
Suzanne Crough – deceased
Suzanne Crough continued her brief stint at Hollywood appearing in a number of short-lived series including Mulligan’s Stew, The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, and Fred Flintstone and Friends. Finally in 1980 she left the business altogether for an easier life in Nevada. She went to college and met her husband William Condray whom she remained married to until her passing. She briefly owned and operated her own bookstore in Nevada and in 2015 passed in her sleep. She is survived by her husband and two children.
Dave Madden as Reuben Kincaid
When Danny approaches Reuben Kincaid with a demo recording of the family’s songs his reaction is not too cheerful. Reuben isn’t a fan of children and was a bit turned off at getting approached by an overzealous one. He gives in eventually after realizing the apparent talent of the group. While he could be somewhat grouchy and stubborn, Reuben genuinely cares for the Partridges and their music. He agrees to take them on as a client and helps catapult them to success.
Dave Madden – deceased
The lovable Dave Madden began his career as a comedian and he performed at open mic nights and comedy festivals beginning in the ’60s. After The Partridge Family he appeared in a number of successful shows including Starsky & Hutch, The Love Boat, Married with Children, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. He was a well-respected actor in Hollywood and remained friends with many of his co-stars until his passing in 2014. After leaving Hollywood in 2008 he wrote a memoir called Reuben on Wry: The Memoirs of Dave Madden.
Gary Dubin as Punky Lazaar
Gary Dubin appears as Punky Lazaar for seven episodes as Danny’s mischievous and morally questionable friend. While out and about one day, Punky convinces Danny to shoplift from a store. Acting against his normal judgement Danny obliges and takes a yo-yo from the toy shop. Later on Danny is ridden with guilt, hurt by his own actions, while Punky continues on. He proves to be a poor friend to Danny and the friendship doesn’t last long.
Gary Dubin – deceased
Gary Dubin kept up an impressive acting career after playing Punky. He has appeared in Jaws 2, CHiPs, and Outlander. He made a career for himself doing a lot of voice acting work for video games and animated series. In turn he became a prominent voice actor when it came to vocal dubbing Japanese anime cartoons into English. He tragically passed away in 2016 at the age of 57 following his battle with bone cancer.