At age 7, Ryan Cassidy spent a day with a Hollywood “gangster” – a day he’ll always remember.
The 57-year-old youngest son of “The Partridge Household” matriarch Shirley Jones and Tony Award-winning actor Jack Cassidy, in addition to the brother of youngster idol David Cassidy, is reflecting on his time with James Cagney.
He detailed his afternoon with the Oscar winner in a brand new kids’s guide titled “James Cagney Was My Babysitter,” which additionally incorporates a foreword and afterword from Jones, 89. The actress labored with Cagney, who died in 1986 at age 86. The 2 stars grew to become associates over time.
“There are a whole lot of actors that I grew up with, and actors and actresses that I met by way of the years,” Cassidy instructed Fox Information Digital. “And there’s so a lot of them that individuals have forgotten about, or possibly this era doesn’t find out about. And I needed to share a really candy story that occurred [to] me once I was seven years previous in a format that can inform individuals right this moment who this man was.”
Cassidy grew up in Hollywood, however life was not all the time glamorous. His mother and father’ seemingly excellent marriage had crumbled. One afternoon, his father picked him up, they usually headed to Cagney’s home in Beverly Hills. Cagney, who was semi-retired on the time, knew that Cassidy’s mother and father had been going by way of a separation.
“[Due to] a sequence of occasions, my dad needed to depart,” Cassidy recalled. “And Cagney stated, ‘Why don’t you permit Ryan right here? And I’ll care for him for a short while.’ I used to be all the time actually shy and didn’t wish to be in individuals’s houses that I didn’t know. I didn’t wish to mess something up.”
On the time, Cassidy had no thought Cagney was one of the iconic stars of Hollywood’s golden period. Within the Thirties, he was the display screen’s prime mobster, however he was additionally a sought-after song-and-dance man. He was revered by many, and in 1974, grew to become the primary actor to obtain the Life Achievement Award of the American Movie Institute.
However to Cassidy, he was merely a household buddy whose dwelling was embellished with vivid illustrations paying homage to “a fairy story.”
“Even at that age, as a toddler, I sense that he cared about the place my head was at,” Cassidy defined. “He needed to be sure that I used to be OK… He needed to construct my shallowness ultimately by expressing curiosity in my pursuits. He didn’t make it about him. He made it about me. And that was fairly necessary throughout a time once I didn’t know what was occurring.”
Regardless of discovering fame in Hollywood, Cagney was stated to be smitten with nation dwelling. In 1936, he purchased a farm in Martha’s Winery, Massachusetts, the place he and his spouse Frances spent as a lot time as attainable in between movies. Throughout their retirement years, the couple lived on a farm close to Millbrook in Dutchess County, New York, the place he raised Morgan horses. When not in entrance of a digital camera, Cagney immersed himself in studying, portray, farming and taking part in classical guitar.
“He cherished portray,” stated Cassidy. “I believe he cherished adorning as a result of his home was superbly embellished. He was an actor that when he was beneath contract with Warner Bros. Studios, he would shoot an image, after which he’d go to New York and go be along with his horses and his household. However his interest was actually portray. There are a number of work on the market that he did which can be stunning. I imply, he couldn’t wait to take out a pen and a pad and begin drawing.”
“He requested me, ‘What would you like me to attract for you?’” Cassidy shared. “And I stated, ‘I need you to attract that leprechaun in your show cupboard.’ That turned out to be a part of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.’ And he drew that for me.”
It’s a drawing, Cassidy stated, that he nonetheless cherishes 50 years later.
Over time, Cagney would test in on Cassidy, particularly when tragedy struck. In 1976, Cassidy’s father died in a hearth. In response to officers, a cigarette might have sparked the blaze that swept by way of his penthouse residence in Los Angeles. The 49-year-old and Jones had divorced in 1974.
“I believe I looked for father figures by way of my life, and mentors that I regarded up for steerage,” Cassidy mirrored. “[Whether] consciously or subconsciously, I needed to search out someone that might say, ‘You’re going to be OK.’ And, ‘I’m pleased with you.’ Or, ‘You’re doing a very good job.’ I don’t suppose you ever lose that. I needed to discover my dad in methods… he’s not right here within the bodily sense. However I really feel my dad round me on a regular basis.”
“However like anything, you study to deal with it,” Cassidy shared. “It’s been an extended, very long time, however I nonetheless miss him on a regular basis. I take into consideration him on a regular basis.”
Cassidy described his mom as all the time being “the spine of our household.”
“The beauty of my mother is that she was by no means like, ‘I’m a film star and that is what I do,’” Cassidy defined. “She was like, ‘That’s my profession and that is my life – my kids, my husband.’ That was her life. And he or she got here from a really small city. She had small-town sensibilities. And he or she tried to instill that into her kids. So although we grew up in present enterprise, we had an actual life as a lot because it may very well be an actual life.”
“My mom was taking part in a mom on tv, however she would come dwelling, and he or she was simply as a lot of a mom with us as she was a mom on TV,” he continued. “However the cause why she was so good in that position as Mrs. Partridge was as a result of that’s one thing that got here naturally to her. She was nurturing, loving, and compassionate – only a nice mother.”
Cagney had some heartfelt phrases for the matriarch’s grieving son.
“He instructed my mother, ‘Your son Ryan is an insightful, creative younger man, and I cherished these few hours that I spent with him,’” Cassidy beamed. “I do know I by no means forgot my afternoon with him. He was this genuinely candy, fantastic older man who was additionally extremely charming and charismatic. And he confirmed me some kindness, with out me being his personal little one or grandson. I simply by no means forgot it.”
One other actor who has been on Cassidy’s thoughts is Dean Martin. Rising up, Cassidy stated the that star was typically on the Hamburger Hamlet watching sports activities from the bar.
“Dean misplaced his son, and I don’t suppose he ever actually recovered from that,” Cassidy admitted. “No matter he was experiencing, I believe he needed to be alone. That was his place to go and sit. However he was all the time so good to me. He was a stunning man who would all the time ask about my mom.”
The crooner’s eldest son, Dean Paul “Dino” Martin, was killed immediately in 1987 when his fighter jet slammed right into a distant mountainside. He was 35.
Ten years earlier than the tragedy, the 82-year-old mom of Frank Sinatra, Natalie “Dolly” Sinatra, was killed in a aircraft crash close by in the identical mountain vary.
“I went in there one evening with my mother… it was on Father’s Day,’” stated Cassidy. “And I observed him. I stated, ‘Mother, Dean Martin’s sitting on the bar.’ And he or she stated, ‘Is he? Oh, I wish to go up and say hello to him.’ I believe my mother felt very sorry for him. It’s Father’s Day and Dean is sitting there by himself. She went as much as him and stated, ‘Dean? It’s Shirley Jones.’ He turned and stated, ‘Oh, Shirley!’ He acquired up and put his arms round her… My mother acquired actually emotional. She began to cry.”
Martin handed away on Christmas Day 1995. He was 78.
Nevertheless, not all of Cassidy’s recollections of Martin are sorrowful. He described how Martin’s humorousness by no means left him.
“That was his favourite place to go,” Cassidy famous. “His white Rolls-Royce was sitting proper in entrance of the Hamlet and his license plate stated ‘Drunkie’ on it… An unimaginable expertise that man was.”
The Related Press contributed to this report.
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