Monday, June 2, 2008

David Cassidy. I Know I Still Kind Of Love You.

"Mom, I'm going to Patka's." That five word sentence would be transmitted to my mother on a monthly basis. Those were the days when a kid could walk around an entire neighborhood (a couple of miles all four ways around) without fear attached to the solo walk. There was only one reason why I would be walking to Patka's. Patka's was located approximately two and a half blocks from my house and they sold magazines. The only magazines this little girl had any interest in were the teen idol magazines.

It was the fall of 1970 and I was coming off a spectacular summer as the season concluded with a two week family vacation in sunny Southern California. We went to visit my mother's eldest sister who lived in Burbank and we did it all during that vacation. Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm (my dad and I rode the log ride four times in a row), Marineland (which isn't there anymore), the CBS tour (I saw Carol Burnett's parking space), a Dodgers game (I'm an American League fan, but this was so cool because we saw Hank Aaron play in his Braves uniform), Universal Studios (where we met Woody Woodpecker and Frankenstein's monster). I refer to this time in my life as this summer and then some and the then some now has me being grateful for having come of age in the early 1970's.

Everything about pop culture at the time was absolutely fantastic! The movies were great (perhaps, only the 1940's surpassed the era for the creation of great movies). These were the Oscar winners for Best Picture from that decade. (Patton, The French Connection, The Godfather, The Sting, The Godfather II, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Rocky, Annie Hall, The Deerhunter, Kramer vs. Kramer). All were critically acclaimed to varying degrees and all were commercial successes (even the Woody Allen movie would turn a profit). The television shows were great (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Police Woman, The Rockford Files). The music was spectacular. The big name acts were among the best groupings in the history of pop music; and the one hit wonders of the era are still deliciously happy tunes. How many of you can still sing along to "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)," "Dancing in the Moonlight," "Ooh Child" and "Sugar, Sugar (technically, this one was released in 1969, but it so sounds like a '70's song)?"

As I approached the new school year I was about to crash directly into my first head-on crush. Well, actually I fell in love with Robert Redford the year before, but he was old enough to be my father, so my youthful brain got real this time around. David Cassidy was a doll! He had gorgeous near chocolate brown locks with a lovely part down the middle (I never had a straight part). Yes, even his part was adorable! He had long eyelashes and the proverbial teen idol killer smile!

My cousin Marifran and I went to see David Cassidy at the Arie Crown Theater and we sat in the very last row!!!!! Obviously, I wasn't alone in my lovefest, but it didn't matter. I knew David could see me sitting back there and I assumed I would marry him in about 10 years!!! I don't think I screamed, since even back then I'm positive I wouldn't have given even David the satisfaction of screaming at him. I also knew I wasn't alone with my feelings since both my mother and my sister had their own teen idol experiences.

My mother has told me a million times (and I do mean a million times) how she and her sister, Rosemary were among the first bobby soxers for Frank Sinatra. She can wax poetic about their day at the Chicago Theater back in the summer of 1942. They screamed and screamed and eeeee gads my mother took off a piece of her clothing (bobby socks). My mom and her sister took a streetcar into the heart of the city to see a skinny Frank Sinatra. This grand and still powerful moment in my dear mother's life goes way back to a time slightly after the bombs started dropping on Pearl Harbor. That time is more than a half century ago, but my mom's deeply rooted connection to "the Voice" is still there. She and I recently watched all four installments of Turner Classic Movies' tribute to 'Ol Blue Eyes. If you haven't seen these television specials that aired over the four Sunday nights in May you missed out on a piece of life that no longer exists. The specials were simple. Frank Sinatra singing. You need no more.

My sister had her moment of hair pulling back in the winter of 1964 when the Beatles made their two Ed Sullivan appearances on the CBS Television Network. The lads from Liverpool left their mark on my big sister's life. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! She still loves you George!

Teen idols are potent and influential forces upon the lives of the young girls/women who fall prey to their charms, looks and talent. Frank and the Beatles, along with Elvis Presley obviously became much more than passing teen idol fads. All of them became pop culture phenoms and for all intents and purposes the three most consequential musical acts of the last 75 years. They'd be our Bach, Beethoven and Mozart - if you will.

The chief component for a little girl is quite frankly the cute factor. Yes, they have to have some talent, but what is essential in a teen idol is the face. I can best describe the experience as the "I knew I was a woman" moment. On September 25, 1970 "The Partridge Family" premiered on ABC. Little did I know that on that particular Friday night my life would not necessarily be changed, but it would be altered. I fell in love - at first sight.

I loved the David Cassidy of season one (1970-1971 season). I loved his hair in season one. Yes, I've got to mention the hair again. I loved the parted down the middle version better than the follow up shag cut. Now don't get me wrong I still loved him with the longer shag version, but it was not the same as the part in the middle version. It was with this hair style that he sang and emoted the biggest hit of his career and one of the great pop songs of the era. On December 1, 1970, Keith Partridge sang "I Think I Love You" in the episode entitled, "My Son, the Feminist." That song sounds as good today as it did 38 years ago! I can remember what I was feeling as though it were yesterday. Friday nights I owned David.

I knew everything about him. He was born on April 12, 1950, his favorite song was "The Thrill is Gone" by B.B. King and Jack Cassidy was his dad. I still remember lots of things about David from years of reading "16," "16 Spec," "Tiger Beat" and "Tiger Beat Spectacular." For all you middle aged women (sorry, we are now technically middle aged women) you certainly remember those magazines. David, Bobby Sherman and Donny Osmond would be gracing the covers, the inside front covers, the back covers, the inside back covers and every page in between with a centerfold smack dab in the middle. I had 64 pictures of David Cassidy on the walls of my bedroom. It was wallpaper. Today, I'm sure his "people" would be selling wallpaper. I owned all of their albums, although for some odd reason I only kept one of them. I still have the original "The Partridge Family Album." It's all raggedy with a rip down the side, but the following still exists. I wrote this on the back cover - "Judy (I went by Judy in those days, although I had alternate spellings of the name Judy with Judee taking over in high school) --A True David Cassidy Fan Forever." I don't know the psychology of why I kept that album, but I'm glad I did.

The deep emotional attachment to the memory of my own youth includes my young girl devotion to David Cassidy. I can still feel my heart beating a bit faster and there is a big butterfly floating around in my tummy whenever I hear that number one song from the fall of 1970.

"I'm sleeping and right in the middle of a good dream."

Judith - A True David Cassidy Fan Forever

Please feel free to share your own teen idol memories with me.


Jane said...

I was never that fond of teen idols as a kid, but I did have an odd and borderline creepy assortment of crushes on a very eclectic group of television celebrities. When I was about 8 years old I fell in love with Huntz Hall, the goofiest of all the Bowery Boys. At about the same age, I also had a yen for Illya Kuryakin in the Man From camU.N.C.L.E. But once Star Trek debuted, I thought Spock was the Alpha and Omega. He was my first ENORMOUS TV star crush, but I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to marry him...or BE him. When the Monkees premiered on TV, all the little girls loved Davy Jones, but I thought Mickey Dolenz was way hotter. My last, and most appalling childhood celebrity crush was for Jerry Lewis in The Nutty Professor, when he turned into the slick mean hipster, Buddy Love. As I look at this list, I'm sure it leaves buckets of clues as to why my personal real life romances have been such utter disasters. C'est la vie, Nose Fans, although it is not logical, I still have a warm spot in my heart for a certain Vulcan.

Dean Treadway said...

Those are some interesting TV crushes there, Jane. Guess if you can lie dormant for seven year periods, that Spock thing just might work out.

Here's things from a man's perspective:

My first movie/TV crush was over Tatum O'Neal in "Paper Moon." I was the shame age as she and I thought she was the COOLEST! And very cute, even in the boyish garb. (Too bad about her continuing drug problems.)

My first two TV crushes were with mature women. Marcia Straussberg played Gabe Kaplan's attentive, generous TV wife on "welcome Back. Kotter." I often thought of how wonderful it'd be to have a lady who laughed at all your jokes, no matter how stupid, and then came up with some pretty wry comments of her own. I love Marcia's attitude, long reddish-brown hair, and her glasses! I have, as a result, a lifelong true love of any woman I see wearing specs.
(I also liked Bailey on WKRP in Cincinnati--way better lookin' than Loni Anderson).

Finally, I was deeply in love with the late SUzanne Pleshette. On "Bob Newhart," she was sexy, smart, funny, and kind--a template I've kept for womanhood til today, and one that's rarely matched. Dang...

Great article..."Judee." (hee hee) Glad somebody out there loves the 1970s as much as me. Great time for pop culture, this is so true!

Dean Treadway said...

One more thing: Lisa and I, in talking about the Monkees one time, got into a conversation about why teen idols look the way they do--I gotta say, sometimes they look more like girls than guys (sorry, but they do!). I wondered why this was and Lisa said she thought it was because girly looking guys looked less threatening to fawning girlfans. What do you think, Judith?

Lisa said...

Adorable post, Judith! I have to say, frighteningly a bit, that Jane's idols weirdly match mine. I also had a Danny Kaye obsession, which I thought was later but now I realize started in junior high. I'm a bit older than y'all, so my references aren't quite the same, but a BIG Kuryakin obsession, Huntz Hall is very sexy, also Groucho...Larry Fine (Three Stooges), Spock..ever and always. Also with you on Jerry Lewis, Jane. But in terms of total teenage, definitely Mickey Dolenz and Mr. Spock, U.N.C.L.E. Had many teen mags. Also loved a very short-lived ABC show called "The Young Rebels" which I've written about here...loved Lafayette in that! And Diver Dan...maybe that was a little younger, but not much. And Paul Winchell...I need some serious help! lol

Jane said...

In my later years I also liked (not loved) Pee Wee Herman and thought one of the characters on that show (Capt. Carl) was very attractive. Let's see...pop psychology analysis...All my idols are either hopelessly immature and goofy, or completely unavailble emotionally. Calling Dr. Bombay! I think I need some therapy now!

Jane said...

Additional note to today's TV boy teen heart-throbs also look like girls? Has this gender bender crush thingee continued into the 21st century? I'm picturing that kid from the hugely popular (Disney channel) High School Musical and I'm thinking...yes. It's got to be a comfort zone issue for little girls.

Lisa said...

Jane, I didn't know you had a crush on Captain Carl, too! I was SO sad when Phil Hartman died...he was wonderful.

I definitely think that teen idols seem to have that slightly androgynous quality -- teen idols and actors on TV soaps, too -- still. Certainly something about budding sexuality and non-intimidation. You'd sort of think with all kids more aware, at least, of sexuality (thru media) that the girlish-looking boy wouldn't be quite as much a necessity, but cute will always win out.

Scott said...

Judith that was a great read!
You ALMOST make me feel sane about my David Cook crush (which closely resembles your Cassidy crush. Yes I even know DC's birthday is 12/20/82.) Problem is, I'm 48. So I really am insane after all!
But seriously, I related to everything you mentioned in this great piece of Nose-talgia.
And Jane, your Huntz Hall thing makes me LMAO!! It's so you! I truly love you!

LAGal said...

Dean and Lisa,
I do think young girls go for the pretty boys, but we are reacting to the natural world. Did you ever see those studies of people from all different cultures and the way they react to attractiveness? Everyone reacts the same way.

When we are young we are certainly not thinking about "personality" or smarts. It's all about the face. David Cassidy was not a masculine type, but he was physically beautiful. As I mentioned my first real crush was on a 32 year old Robert Redford. Now there was a masculine, manly man! I think that's the bigger "go figure!" I was a kid and yet I reacted very strongly to him. I still regard Butch and the Kid as my all time favorite film and in large part I do that because I'm emotionally attached to the film. Admittedly, it's a great film and a great movie (two different things), but for me it's all about the Sundance Kid!

As for David. He will always be the big thing for me. I even still have my pooka (sp?) shells. Now that alone is a tribute.

Karen said...

Well I thought I would chime in with my list of teen idols. I do agree with Judith regarding the cultural studies on attractiveness. I think that I fall into the typical catagory quite well. I too loved David Cassidy and swooned over every song he sung. I also went ape for Davey Jones of the Monkees. And I can't forget Bobby Sherman of "Here Come the Brides". All three of these men exhibit that boyishness that borders on feminine, but makes teenage girls go crazy. Later I graduated to the more masculine type such as Paul Michael Glasser of "Starsy and Hutch" and Ben Murphy of "Alias Smith and Jones". Of course the list can go on and on but those were my all time faves. You see I am quite normal after all.

Lisa said...

Hi Judith!

Yes, you are so right about that universal attractiveness imperative, and like you said, you can't deny these idols were beautiful. I'm with you on "Butch Cassidy" -- man, did I fall in love with that film! I'm older than you, but I saw it I can't tell you how many times and had several posters on my bedroom wall and many Hole in the Wall Gang-related paperbacks. And the soundtrack album...I even bought the sheet music book to Bacharach's score.

You unleashed a boatload of memories from all of us! :-)