“What are you doing, Daddy? Why are you marrying someone else?” a little boy cried into the phone as he called his father the night before his wedding. That little boy was David Cassidy.

    “April Love” actress Shirley Jones turns 89 today! Her life has been a rollercoaster, from falling in love with a married man, to a stepson, who doubled up as her TV son, almost ruining her wedding. Today, she is happy she raised her three sons to become outstanding citizens and enjoys doting on her 13 grandchildren.

    “Carousel” actress Shirley Jones and her former husband Jack Cassidy’s marriage lasted an impressive 19 years. Still, they had to overcome many challenges, including Cassidy’s infidelity, to achieve such a long and successful union.

    In 1955, Cassidy was cast in a State Department European tour of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma!” alongside Jones. At the time of their first meeting, Jones was only 21. In her book, “Shirley Jones: A Memoir,” Jones described Cassidy as startlingly handsome, with white blonde hair and hypnotic blue eyes.

    American actor Jack Cassidy (1927 - 1976), circa 1950. | Source: Getty Images

    It did not help that she was a small-town girl and inexperienced in the ways of the world, but with his charisma and world-class charm, he became her tutor, teaching her everything she knows about everything.

    Every night, as they rehearsed for the play, they would stare into each other’s eyes as they sang the theme song, “People Will Say We’re in Love.” Slowly but surely, the sexual chemistry between them began to ignite a spark that would soon grow into a full-blown fire.

    Theirs was a forbidden love, as Cassidy was still legally married to his wife Evelyn Ward, a dancer and actress known for her role in “New Girl in Town.” A raging beauty with exotic good looks, Ward married Cassidy in 1948 and had their son, David, in 1950.

    However, rumor had it that their marriage was an unhappy one. The reason? Cassidy was a lady’s man and had left her numerous times. Jones had heard the rumor, which should have been reason enough to run for the hills. Yet, she held on to every word Cassidy said to her, hoping against all hope that his love was as genuine as he said it was.

    They arrived safely in Paris, where they would be performing the musical, and on their first night there, Cassidy called Jones, asking her out on a date. She reminded him he was married, but he insisted. Jones gave in, and they ended up having a wonderful time at the Eiffel Tower, where he made her laugh with his well-thought-out jokes.

    They later walked back to their hotel room on the left bank of Paris, and once they got to her door, he leaned over, kissed her on the cheek, and said, “I’m going to marry you.” And when Jones seemed confused by the statement, knowing all too well that he was still a married man, he assured her that he would divorce his wife for her.

    Actors Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy, circa 1950s | Source: Getty Images

    The night after they presented their play, Cassidy made love to Jones in a little Roman hotel. It was Jones’s first time, admitting to having never gone all the way with anyone else before then. She always wanted her first time to be with the right man, and Cassidy felt like the right man.

    She was so drawn to him that when he told her he’d run out of money while checking out of the hotel, she gladly paid his bill. They had only been on one date, and the $350 seemed like a hefty amount, but she did not give it a second thought.

    Jones eventually left Paris after the producers at Rodgers & Hammerstein called asking her to appear in the movie “Carousel.” She was filming the movie at Boothbay Harbor, Maine, for nine months but said Cassidy called her every day until he once called to say he had divorced Ward.

    Once she returned, they did a show in a small theatre on the Harvard Campus in Massachusetts. While there, Cassidy told Jones that they would get married there, and true to his word, they wed on August 6, 1956.

    The pair faced their first major challenge after Jones got pregnant, and her agent persuaded her to have an abortion since her career had just taken off. She recalls the doctor telling her she was healthy and would be fine after the procedure and to go home, put her feet up, and rest.

    Cassidy was warm and comforting after the ordeal, but Jones said she felt emotionally fragile. She also vowed to get pregnant again as soon as possible and start a family. In the meantime, she had Cassidy’s son, David, to deal with, and that was not going so well.

    David Wanted to Hate His “Wicked Stepmother”
    Ward had loved Cassidy so much that despite being divorced, she did not take his moving on so well. She had no intentions of letting go easily, and when she finally agreed to a divorce, she was unprepared for him to remarry so quickly.

    Singer David Cassidy, circa 1970 | Source: Getty Images

    She set out on a mission to make Cassidy feel awful about divorcing her and marrying someone else. The plan was to have her son, David, seven at the time, call his dad and question his plans.

    On the day of Cassidy and Jones’s wedding rehearsal, Ward called Cassidy, saying he needed to speak to David. She then put David on the call, and the boy, talking to his dad, asked:

    “What are you doing, Daddy? Why are you marrying someone else?”

    Shocked, Cassidy fumbled with his words, completely changing the subject, and then hung up. But that was only the beginning. The night before the wedding was Ward’s second attempt at sabotaging her ex-husband’s new marriage, and she was determined to succeed.

    She called Cassidy, claiming that David was hysterical over his father marrying someone else and that Cassidy needed to fly to New Jersey and explain to his son in person.

    Despite his guilt, Cassidy had his priorities right. He stood up to Ward, adamant about not abandoning his bride. He told her he would not be flying to New Jersey and that she needed to help David understand why his father was marrying someone else.

    In spite of Ward’s efforts to paint Jones as the bad guy, Jones knew she was not responsible for Cassidy and Ward’s dead marriage. They had been separated twice before Jones came into Cassidy’s life, and even after they got together the second time, their marriage was still struggling.

    Cassidy understood that he had to hold the bull by the horns for his marriage to Jones to start on a strong footing. He soon arranged for his new wife and son to meet, despite being incredibly aware that Ward had already painted a picture of a wicked stepmother to David.

    Actress Evelyn Ward (mother of David Cassidy) poses for a portrait at home in October 1972 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

    Ward was intent on tarnishing David’s perception of his stepmother, but Cassidy wanted to counter that and quickly made arrangements for David to meet Jones.

    The first time David came to their home, Jones was amazed at what an adorable child he was. She was keen to win him over, but it was natural for David to be withdrawn and afraid of her, given the image his mother had painted of her.

    She sat on the couch in their living room and asked David to join her so they could talk. David shook his head in defiance. Cassidy was angry at David, but Jones took him aside and asked him to understand that it was only natural for David to feel the way he did.

    However, even after they had been to dinner, all David wanted was to go home, so Cassidy drove him back to his mother’s place. After that first meeting, Jones felt David hated her. She would only discover years later that that was not the case after David said of her:

    “The first time I met her, I was six or seven and not impressed with whether she was famous. I wanted to hate her, but in minutes warmed to her.”

    Cassidy and Jones went on to have three sons, Shaun, Patrick, and Ryan, and even continued to perform together. Jones was amazed at how well they performed in a field where couples hated working together.

    Unfortunately, they divorced in 1975, and Jones later admitted she wouldn’t have divorced him had he not wanted it. Jones believed the unexpected success of “The Patridge Family” had much to do with Cassidy wanting out of the marriage.

    He broke the news in a restaurant, saying that while he still loved her, they had to be apart for a while. However, it appeared he regretted his decision soon after and wanted her back. And she wanted him. Unfortunately, it was too late for them to rekindle their dimming flame.

    On December 11, 1976, Cassidy invited Jones for drinks at his West Hollywood, California home, but she declined. And the following morning, he lit a cigarette and fell asleep. The cigarette fell on his couch, his house caught on fire, and he never saw the light of day again. His remains were cremated and scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

    Jones moved on and married actor and comedian Marty Ingels on November 13, 1977, but admitted that despite her love for Ingels, and their extraordinary relationship, she wouldn’t have married him if Cassidy were still alive.

    Long before the death of her ex-husband and finding new love, Jones and David had forged a close bond and even starred in “The Patridge Family” as mother and son. The friendship continued even after Cassidy’s demise. Jones has said they had a great thing going on, and David would even come to her house to help her with the kids.

    David described Jones as a warm, open, sweet, and good human being, and on top of their remarkable friendship, she was also his role model, and he always looked up to her and the unique way she dealt with people on the set.

    David often came clean about his father, who raised him boot-camp style. He made him work hard for his role, which he is forever grateful for, but he says that once he became famous because of “The Partridge Family,” Cassidy found it hard dealing with his son’s fame.

    But the worst came when Cassidy and Jones divorced. David wanted his father to be proud of him, but all he got was resentment from him. However, Jones stood in the gap and became the parent that David needed, both on and off-screen.

    Jones Turns 89!
    Son and stepmother maintained a loving relationship for decades. David once disclosed that he shared an excellent relationship with his stepmother and half-brothers. Sadly, he began distancing himself from the rest of the family in the years leading to his death.

    In 2015, Jones told Closer Weekly that David’s alcoholism had caused him to isolate himself, and they were worried sick about him. In February 2017, David disclosed that he had been diagnosed with dementia, but it was no surprise to him since the condition ran in his family.

    On November 18, 2017, he was hospitalized in critical condition and put in a medically induced coma after his kidneys and liver failed. Two days later, he came out of the coma and was stable, but unfortunately, on November 21, he passed away. He was 67.

    David Cassidy perfoms at the "The Ultimate Idols" concert with Davy Jones at St. George Theatre on September 13, 2008 in Staten Island, New York. | Source: Getty Images

    Jones was devastated by the loss and paid an emotional tribute to her stepson, saying she would forever treasure the years they worked and grew together. She found solace, knowing he had joined his father. She sympathized with David’s daughter Katie, son Beau, and his half brothers because she knew they would miss him terribly.

    Today, Jones turns 89, and life has been quite the rollercoaster. She is incredibly proud of her career, but most importantly, she is proud of her family, which she says always comes first.

    Despite being an only child, Jones is proud to have raised three wonderful sons, who she says are great men of character and accomplishments. Shaun is an actor, singer, writer, and producer known for creating and producing “American Gothic,” “Roar,” and “Invasion.”

    Patrick has also taken after his parents and is an actor known for “Smallville,” “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” and Castle.” Ryan, the youngest of the Cassidy brothers, is likewise an actor with screen credits including “The Facts of Life,” “The Family Game,” and “Paradise.”

    Besides being a loving mother to her sons, Jones is also a doting grandmom to her 13 grandchildren. “And I love visits with my grandchildren. I am an only child, so to have all this family is amazing. You have to enjoy this moment — the now — because that’s really all we have,” she says.

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