In a heart-rending admission captured in a documentary filmed in the final months before his death from organ failure at 67, former pop star and teen heartthrob David Cassidy of the hit 1970s TV show “The Partridge Family” admitted that he had been lying to the public about suffering from dementia. All of his serious mental and physical issues, he told the filmmakers, were connected to his ongoing struggle with alcoholism.
The tragic admission was first revealed on Wednesday when an excerpt of the new documentary, “David Cassidy: The Last Session,” was released. The film, set to air on A&E on June 11, chronicles what turned out to be Cassidy’s final attempt to make a professional comeback, but it also focused on his supposed bouts with dementia, about which he admitted in a phone call that he had lied.
Cassidy’s claim that he was diagnosed with dementia, Reuters notes, was part of an attempt to “stave off reports about odd behavior.” The truth, he revealed to the film’s producers, is that he was still struggling with alcoholism and that years of addiction had taken a severe toll on him.
He made the admission to the producers after a trip to the emergency room in September. “I have a liver disease,” Cassidy said in the recorded conversation. “There is no sign of me having dementia at this stage of my life. It was complete alcohol poisoning. The fact is, I lied about my drinking.”
Of his alcoholism, he said, “I did it to myself, to cover up the sadness and the emptiness.”
Cassidy was ordered to participate in rehab as part of a sentence for a 2014 drunk driving charge; it was his second DUI in four years.
The filmmakers said that they wrestled with how to approach the admission. Co-producer Saralena Weinfield told People magazine in a release Wednesday that they didn’t want to “exploit” Cassidy, but felt that since he was finally “honest about what killed him,” they decided “his legacy would be best served if we shared that.”