The Partridge Family

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Six Partridges; no pear tree, just a manager..

Shirley: Tracy, don't put that drumstick up your nose!
Tracy: Why not?
Shirley: You don't know where it's been!


This 1970-74 half-hour Sitcom was part of ABC's Friday night lineup and is inextricably bound to The Brady Bunch, its companion in the previous time slot, in the minds of those old enough to have seen it during its original run. It depicted the life and adventures of a family Garage Band that suddenly got their big break and shot to top 40 success after adding their thirty-something mother to the lineup. The cast featured Hollywood favorite Shirley Jones (best known up to this point for her roles in a number of classic movie musicals) and Dave Madden, a veteran of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. The series also featured Jones' stepson David Cassidy, whom it subsequently launched into brief but intense teen idol superstardom. Also included in the young cast were future star Susan Dey (later of L.A. Law) and future scandal-wracked DJ Danny Bonaduce.

Like The Monkees before it, The Partridge Family was predicated on its music, and like The Monkees the music was created almost entirely independently of the cast. The majority of the songs were performed by studio musicians and vocalists, with Cassidy and Jones adding lead and background vocals respectively. Producer/songwriter/label owner Wes Farrell led the studio artists and essentially created the sound of the Partridge Family. The actual songs were written by a collective of successful pop song writers, including Tony Romeo, Terry Cashman, Tommy West, Barry Mann, and Cynthia Weil.

The Partridge Family was originally proposed as a vehicle for the real-world family rock group The Cowsills (famous for their hits "Indian Lake", "The Rain, The Park and Other Things", and "Hair"). However, the erstwhile producers determined that the Cowsills, while musically talented, were not charismatic enough to carry a television series except for the youngest girl; furthermore, they felt the children were all already too grown up for their plans. The Cowsills' involvement was quickly abandoned and the concept retooled to focus on a fictional family band. Alternately, some accounts claim that the Cowsills walked out on the project when the producers refused to use their mother Barbara and cast Shirley Jones instead.

Tropes used in The Partridge Family include:
  • Animated Adaptation: Several were made, most notably the Jetsons Expy Partridge Family: 2200 A.D..
    • Not quite the same thing, but Danny, Laurie, Chris, and Tracy, appeared in several episodes of the Hanna-Barbera series Goober and the Ghost Chasers.[1]
  • As Himself: Howard Cosell
    • Johnny Cash in the pilot.
  • Brother Chuck: The family dog, Simone.
  • Competence Zone: Subverted; with the majority of the regulars being children and teens, incompetent adults would be expected, but this is far from the case; and in fact, success does not come to the band until their "too old" mother joins it.
  • Cousin Oliver: Ricky, the 4-year-old next door who was added as one of several ploys to handle David Cassidy's departure from the show. Coincidentally, he was added the same year that the original Cousin Oliver joined The Brady Bunch.
  • Diet Episode: In one episode, Danny is teased for being fat, goes on a diet, and loses about 10 pounds, all without being noticeably slimmer. According to Danny Bonaduce's biography, this was not a pleasant episode to film.
  • Everythings Smellier With Skunks: In the episode "And the Memory Lingers On..." a skunk hitches a ride on the Partridge Family bus and sprays the family just before they are to play a big gig.
  • Fake Band: One of the definitive examples from mid-20th Century television.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Several characters. Primary is the Partridge Family itself, which was loosely based on the Cowsills. Others, like a NOW clone called POW, made one-shot appearances in various episodes.
    • In fact, the series was originally pitched to the Cowsills.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit
  • Garage Band
  • The Narrator: Shirley Jones, but only in the first few episodes.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: For Bobby Sherman's series Getting Together.
  • Recycled in Space: Partridge Family 2200 A.D..
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: They went from "When We're Singing" in season 1 to a similar sounding but different song "C'mon, Get Happy".
  • Revival: MTV's aborted The New Partridge Family project.
  • Telephone Exchange Names: The song title "ECho Valley 2-6809". Released in the early 1970s, so the old-style telephone number was likely an intentional invocation for nostalgic purposes.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The show had a "Saving the world with whale songs" plotline 15 years before Star Trek IV the Voyage Home.
  1. Here, they were billed as "The Partridge Kids".