Jack Cassidy: Born Too Late

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Today is the birthday of the incomparable Jack Cassidy (1927-1976). Growing up in the 1970s, he was one of my favorite character actors. The idea of himself that he seems to have held (and that has been perpetuated by others), i.e. that he was living in the shadow of his wife Shirley Jones, has always been a bit perplexing to me as someone who saw him on television constantly, where he was always cheerful, witty, carefree,  and in possession of a larger-than-life, clearly defined public image. Cassidy was both ahead of, and behind his times. He adored John Barrymore (even played him in W.C. Fields and Me), though he unfortunately seemed to model his persona on late Barrymore: one part former thespian, one part drunken buffoon. Clearly talented, not just as a musical comedy star but as a dramatic actor (he won both a Tony and an Emmy)…

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