Shaun in the Cassidy family's music room

"Shirley" Cast, 1979, NBC

Shirley & Marty, 1980s

Publicity photo for their autibiography, 1990

Announcing their separation, February 2000

Recent guest role: "Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch" (ABC)

In concert

On a replica PF bus, Mason City Iowa

Relaxing in her mountain home

An Interview with


GH: There seems to be a difference of opinion over the reason the series was cancelled. David has said his decision to leave after the fourth season prompted the cancellation, and Bob Claver feels it was the ratings. What is your take on the reason the show ended after the fourth season?

SJ: They put us opposite All In The Family and that was the death of the show. All In The Family was a brand new concept in television, and suddenly we were old hat. I donít think it had anything to do with David leaving. I think the show had just run its course.

GH: Would you have liked to continue?

SJ: The fact that we enjoyed it so much and we became sort of a family, I think we would have liked it to go on a little longer. But I think everybody had their sights set on other things. At least the younger ones did. I think itís good that it left when it did.

GH: After the series was cancelled, CBS aired a cartoon series called The Partridge Family: 2200 A. D. Were you contacted to voice your role?

SJ: Yes, I think so. I didnít want to do it.

GH: The A&E Biography indicated that, by the mid 70s, you were almost broke. Is that true?

SJ: No, not really. There was a divorce here so we had a lot of money going out. Plus, Jack spent a lot of money. So I didnít have what I should have had, but we werenít broke, no.

GH: Did Jack get to see Shaunís rise as a performer?

SJ: In the beginning. He passed away just as Shaun was breaking into the business.

GH: After The Partridge Family, you continued appearing in a number of TV-Movies and feature films. What brought you back to series work, for the NBC drama, Shirley?

SJ: Again, I liked the regularity of a TV series. I liked knowing what I am going to do every day.

GH: Since it was an hour series, the schedule must have been a lot longer?

SJ: Yes, they were much longer but I loved the show. It was such a good show. I thought we did a great pilot, which sold the show. We started to work and then took a few weeks off. When we came back, all of a sudden we had all new writers, all new everything! It was so terrible, what they did to that show. Somebody at the network decided they wanted to bring in their own set of writers and it was a disaster. It was the first time I ever stood up and fought with people over a project. I did the best I could because I knew we had something and I knew they were ruining it.

GH: In public, Jack seemed very reserved. Yet Marty [Ingels] seems the total opposite. Was it that contrast between the two that attracted you to Marty in the beginning?

SJ: Well, you know something? They are not the opposite at all. I mean, they obviously donít look alike, but the fact is their birthdays are three days apart, so they are the same birth sign. Now, Martyís humor is a bit different and he has a different approach to humor than Jack did, but Jack wanted to be a stand-up comic.

GH: Really?

SJ: Oh, yeah! He loved it! He loved comics. All of the comics were his best friends.

GH: Did Jack and Marty ever meet?

SJ: Oh, yeah! Before I ever met Marty, they haunted the same places in New York.

GH: Did they meet again while you and Marty were dating?

SJ: No, not at that point they didnít. But there are a great number of similarities.

GH: In February 2000, you and Marty announced that you were embarking on a six-month trial separation. Now that those six months are over, do you think itís going to work out?

SJ: I think so. Iím still living away, but we see each other all the time. We just had our 23rd wedding anniversary, and Iím moving back into the house at the end of December, so weíll see.

GH: Does it look like any of your grandchildren will carry on the family tradition?

SJ: Cate, my granddaughter [Shaunís daughter], plays guitar and sings quite well! Sheís in college right now. Sheís looking towards that, but I think sheíd also like to be a director.

GH: Your fans are very protective of you, and become very vocal when they hear the stories of problems between Marty and your children. Are the tabloid stories accurate? Or are they exaggerated?

SJ: Well, they donít really see each other. There are problems, but they werenít the cause of the marriage break-up.

GH: You seem to be much more of a private person than Marty. Is it difficult for you to see these problems played out in public?

SJ: Yes, it is very difficult. Itís one of our problems. Heís such a blabbermouth! I call him "Garbagemouth" (laughs). The fact of the matter is, Marty canít lie. Everything is out there, whether he is talking to the press or the neighbor next door. Itís kind of a nice thing, because you sure know where you stand with him. But for me, who is relatively private, itís a problem.

GH: Which of the three kids gets along the best with Marty?

SJ: I would have to say Patrick.

GH: Your recent TV roles have been a dramatic departure from the roles you are known for. Is that deliberate? Are you trying to shake things up?

SJ: Yes. Now in my career, I want to play roles that are challenging and fun and different for me. I mean, Iíve done the other thing. Now, for me, I want to keep an interest in what I am doing and have fun.

GH: Would you like to return to a weekly TV series?

SJ: Yes, if it were an interesting role. I wouldnít want the lead anymore, though because Iíd like to come in and out. I donít want that grind anymore. But, sure, Iíd like to!


In Part 2, Shirley takes us back in time -- before there was a family named Partridge. From her childhood in Smithton, PA, to those magical, early years of Rodgers and Hammerstein. From the corn-fed prairies of Oklahoma to a seaside Carousel to a Music Man from Iowa and a Cassidy named Jack. And Shaun. And Patrick. And Ryan. And, of course, David.

Would you like to join the Shirley Jones International Fan Club? Click here! would like to give their heartfelt thanks to the following passengers for their contributions to this interview: Shirley Jones, Gene Yusem, Sharon Benesta of The Shirley Jones International Fan Club, Cheryl Corwin ó President of Friends Of The Cassidys (FOTC), Michele Montour of The Official Ryan Cassidy Site, and sound masters Scottie Gee and Ramon Aninag. Be sure to visit Shirleyís official website: for a complete history of her life and career.

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

©2000 Scott Awley for 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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