Shaun Cassidy , just another teen idol from the seventies? That is true to some extent, but Shaun left his audience still feeling good about him. He had several hit records, played a costarring role in The Hardy Boys and had general success in nearly everything he did. Girls hearts went pitter pat when they saw his picture in Tiger Beat magazine. He was the all-American boy with a smile that could make even the strongest of girls swoon. You would think all that fame would go to his head. You would think that he would fall into the same traps that many other young teen stars have fallen into. That isn’t what happened though.
I went to see Shaun Cassidy in concert , oh so many years ago. I was an avid fan who had his photos splashed all over the back of my bedroom door. I drove my brother insane because I played the same album over and over again and usually the same songs. Like many other girls around the world at the time, I was going to be his wife someday. That never happened obviously, but, oh, just to daydream about it. I waited patiently for every second Sunday at 7:00 PM to watch Shaun play the role of Joe Hardy on the Hardy Boys series. I was so disappointed when the show was not aired because of a golf game that took precedence. It is nice to see that at least one of the young stars from the seventies made it out without getting into lifelong drug habits or playing deadly games. I still give a huge thumbs up to Cassidy who rose above it all to become a successful person after fame in front of the camera dwindled down.
Cassidy has certainly seen his share of troubles. He has been married three times. That is the only thing that has appeared to have been a problem for him though. He may have simply chosen the wrong women to marry. Everyone is allowed their mistakes and if that is the only mistake that a former teen idol makes, the world has hope that not all teen stars follow the same old path of desperation.
Since Shaun was in direct competition with Leif Garrett, it is only fair to compare the two. Fame certainly has it price. Leif Garrett is a heavy drug addict, while Shaun appears clean. Leif appears to have lost everything, at least once in his life but likely more. Shaun seems to have settled well into middle age though. He is currently married to his third wife. They have three small children together and Shaun has two children from his first marriage plus a step-daughter from the same marriage. From his second marriage he has one daughter. Where Shaun doesn’t appear to be afraid of marriage in the least, Leif Garrett never went. Garrett never got married and never had children. What is the difference between the two that Shaun was able to avoid the pitfalls that so many others fall into? There may be a secret to the formula and that secret may be in the way the children were raised.
Shaun’s father, Jack Cassidy , was killed in a fire in his penthouse in December of 1976. Shaun was already grown by that time. Jack Cassidy, by all rights, had deep troubles himself. He had bi-polar disorder and was an alcoholic. He married actress Shirley Jones , who was a successful actress as well. Shaun has two younger brothers and is half brothers with David Cassidy. The main difference between Shaun and Leif are very simple. The way they were raised and brought into the business.
Shaun’s mother, Shirley, was very particular about her sons. She discouraged her sons from becoming involved in acting and singing. In fact, Shaun made his own decision to act and sing when he was still in high school. He wanted the career and had a great deal of guidance from his mother. That is something that Leif was sorely lacking. Shaun was older as well. Leif was just 14 when he became the teen idol where Shaun already had gone through puberty and all the things that teenagers should go through. Why compare these two teen idols? It is important to try to understand what makes one become a drug addict and the other to lead a normal adult life.
Shaun Cassidy had a better chance of surviving all the problems that are associated with young stars. His parents can be credited a great deal for Shaun’s successful transition to adulthood. He wanted to act in his mother’s television series, The Partridge Family , but his mother wouldn’t allow it. That is a far cry from Leif’s mother who basically pushed her son into his stardom. That’s not to say that Leif, somewhere along the way, didn’t like his work, but his mother didn’t give him much supervision or choice when it was needed the most. Kudos to Shirley Jones for her active role in her sons lives. This is likely what saved them from falling into the trap that many others fall into when Hollywood is the name of the game.
Shaun’s father, Jack, may not have been a perfect role model, but he did play an active role in his children’s lives. Shaun was about 16 years old when his parents divorced. That was more than enough time for a father/son relationship to be well established.
Relatively little is known about Shaun Cassidy’s life after stardom. He has been successful and made a recent appearance on Oprah . That is a very rare instance, but he did it during Oprah’s final season as talk show host. His life is now centered around his family and he does still work in the entertainment field. He works behind the scenes rather than in the public eye though. Looking at a photo of Shaun Cassidy today is almost like looking at a photo of him yesteryear. He has aged, as all people do. However, he has aged well. He still has the same basic look with a change in hairstyle and a slightly older looking exterior.
When Shaun appeared on Oprah, he played the piano and sang one of his hit songs from the seventies. He was somewhat shy about it, a good quality to see in someone who once stood in front of thousands of fans live to belt out the tunes that helped make him a success. He appears to be happy and well adjusted for someone who had seen that type of fame. His success didn’t go to his head. That may be what attracted a longer standing fan base than others might have. It may be that he already knew what it was like and his mother was able to help lead him since she had her own great success in life. It could also be attributed to watching his older half brother handle his success. David had some troubles along the way, but seems to have pulled himself together.
As much as we like to follow what is going on in the lives of those we once loved to listen to and watch when their lives go wrong, it’s more satisfying to see someone become a great success and then settle nicely into normal life. Shaun had a plan, something that Leif didn’t. Shaun also had a better chance simply because his own mother knew success and preferred that her sons concentrate on a successful life rather than fame and fortune. The two are very different things.
Shaun Cassidy can forever remain the innocent, sweet person that the girls went wild for in the seventies. He is an amazing role model for kids, even with two divorces. Shaun Cassidy remains a success because he understands what the word really means. Success isn’t a sudden rise to fame. Success isn’t all the after parties that you can go to nor is it being able to afford a big mansion. Success in show business for a teen idol is being able to overcome all the temptations for a successful adult life. Being able to look back on all the fun without having all the regrets that this business allows for.
Each time you see a news report about a child star gone bad, think about all the Shaun Cassidy’s out there. Think of the Ron Howard’s of the business. These are good, strong role models for children to follow. Yes, Hollywood is a harsh place to be sometimes. It may seem like glam and glitter, but Hollywood has eaten many young people alive. Parents that don’t know as much about the business might be inclined to think it is alright to put their kids out there without giving enough parental guidance. There are good role models to follow in Hollywood. The problem is, Entertainment Tonight and shows like it, concentrate heavily on those who have fallen into the traps rather than the ones who made it out without so much as a scratch on them. Shaun had more than his voice and more than his acting. He was well trained for various things, such as playing the piano. He knew about Broadway and many other aspects of Hollywood. As for Leif Garrett, his career was based on his voice and some on his acting. That wasn’t enough to pull him through it and now he is suffering the consequences of not spreading his wings a bit more.
I don’t know about the rest of the world. I do know about me though. I was relieved and found it very refreshing to see Shaun Cassidy in such a good place in his life. It helped me realize a little more faith in people and their ability to overcome the odds. When faced with the never-ending stories of drug addiction , suicides and downright bad behavior from Hollywood, it takes away any faith that you have in regards to anyone from Hollywood. I don’t know what happened to Charlie Sheen , who appears to have completely lost his mind at this time. What I do know is that there are better role models for your children to watch than the ones who are currently showing up in places like Celebrity Rehab.
Thanks for the memories Shaun. I was an avid fan then and then moved on. Now I am a fan again, but with a greater understanding of life. My innocence is long gone like everyone else growing up at the time. Now, I am a fan because you put a little faith back in me. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Cassidy. May all Hollywood kids of today find the same kind of success that Shaun Cassidy has found in his “after teen idol” life.