"The Partridge Family" star Susan Dey had a crush on her TV brother David Cassidy even though Shirley Jones warned her to stay away. Her love was unrequited, and their friendship fell apart.
The late actor and musician David Cassidy was nothing short of a heartthrob in the '70s, but when his "Partridge Family" sister Susan Dey confessed she was in love with him, he didn't know what to do. He was at a crossroads.
In 1970, Cassidy became a teen idol thanks to his outstanding portrayal of Keith Partridge in "The Partridge Family." The fact that he was a top-class and good-looking singer helped, too.
Throughout the four years that the TV show ran, he developed a strong but friendly relationship with Dey, who played Laurie Partridge — Cassidy's on-screen sister. He didn't know what Dey really wanted, though.
In 1994, Cassidy published a book titled "C'mon, Get Happy… Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus," where he revealed some of his sexual encounters with other celebrities, his drug use, and his relationship with his famous father, Jack Cassidy.
David Cassidy on May 25, 1974, in London, England | Photo: Getty Images
The "Cherish" singer also shared some very intimate details about his friendship with Dey. That information eventually sparked a feud between the former friends.
Cassidy first heard that something was going on with Dey from his on-screen mother (and real-life step-mother) Shirley Jones. She initially told him to be "careful" about the things he said around Dey.
He confessed he used to talk to Dey about the girls he had slept with. For Cassidy, Dey was the sister he never had. She was his best female friend and knew him better than most people did, so he couldn't imagine how his comments about other women could hurt her.
Promotional photo of Susan Dey for "The Partridge Family" in July 1973 | Photo: Getty Images
However, Jones knew that Dey was "crazy" about Cassidy. She kept warning her to stay away from her on-screen brother, especially because Cassidy didn't handle her emotions diligently enough.
Since Dey wouldn't listen, Jones decided to tell Cassidy that he should "look" at Dey. Still clueless about Dey's feelings towards him, Cassidy invited her to dinner after "The Partridge Family" final wrap party.
[Cassidy] didn't feel "animal attraction" toward Dey — the kind that sparks sexual desire.
"The Partridge Family" cast, including Susan Dey and David Cassidy, in May 1972 | Photo: Getty Images
He took her to his old high school when dinner was over and talked for about three hours. He admitted he did all that to keep their friendship alive, especially because the show's finale meant they would move on in different directions.
At some point during their conversation, she told him "in great detail" how challenging it had been for her not to profess her love for him and how scared she was about their future.
Cassidy wrote that realizing Dey had to just silently listen to him go on about his experiences with other women while she actually wanted to be with him "had a lot of impact" on him. He added:
"I felt like such a dumb [expletive]. It was as if she had hit me over the head with a baseball bat. We'd grown so close."
That conversation ended with Cassidy promising he would take Dey to Rancho California, the "sanctuary" he used to go to when he wanted to get away.
DODGING A BULLET
Dey's confession left Cassidy at a crossroads. He valued her love and friendship and knew that the best thing he could be was a best friend. However, it was not enough.
The heartthrob admitted he didn't feel "animal attraction" toward Dey — the kind that sparks sexual desire. He acknowledged she was attractive, but he just never thought of her sexually.
Still, they went to Rancho California together. After talking and watching some TV, they started making out, and she went to the bathroom. While Dey was getting ready for bed, Cassidy began to have second thoughts.
The whole situation was "weird." Although Dey was not his blood relative, he couldn't stop thinking of her as his sister. However, he figured that she would believe he didn't find her attractive if he rejected her, and their relationship would be doomed.
Dey pointed out that it was a "tremendous, terrible violation."
Eventually, Cassidy realized that Dey lacked that provocative treat he found so attractive in other women. It didn't make his decision any easier as she would still resent him if they didn't have sex, but their friendship would be ruined if they did.
Cassidy decided to break the tension with comedy. After making out for a while, he told her he was too tired and just fell asleep. He dodged a bullet, but another one was coming his way.
David Cassidy on August 8, 2009 in Pasadena, California | Photo: Getty Images
SUCCUMBING TO THE INEVITABLE
The following morning, they had sex. It was less than memorable, though, as Cassidy realized in the process that it was not what he wanted. She sensed his uneasiness, too, so their encounter was brief, unsuccessful, and unfulfilling.
As Cassidy expected, it changed their relationship. They frequently talked to each other for some years, but they stopped doing so after a while.
Susan Dey in Beverly Hills, California, in April 2006 | Photo: Getty Images
The fact that Cassidy shared so many details about what happened between him and Dey in his book — and how he felt about her not being provocative enough for him — didn't make their friendship any better.
Dey pointed out that it was a "tremendous, terrible violation" — one that would not affect their relationship because they didn't have one anymore. She added:
"My first reaction was, 'That poor, desperate soul,' because I was asked to write a book like that years ago, and I said, 'No, that's not what I want to do.'"
Cassidy eventually sent a conciliatory letter, but she never responded. He revealed that Dey had not talked to their "Partridge Family" co-stars, and she allegedly turned down an interview for a documentary about the show that VH1 was preparing.
It is unclear if Dey and Cassidy ever made amends before he died on November 21, 2017. His final years were darker than anyone could have expected as he dealt with alcohol and substance addiction, bankruptcy, and dementia. Rest in peace.
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