Mothers, Guard Your Girls; the New Cassidy on the Loose Is David's Kid Brother Shaun

If 18-year-old Shaun Cassidy, the younger of ABC’s Hardy Boys, ever regrets becoming a sex object to the nation’s weenyboppers, it won’t be because he lacked an instructive example. Shaun’s older half brother by eight years, David Cassidy, was the first in the family to spin his Partridge Family TV hit into a brutally disorienting rock concert career that ended only after a 14-year-old girl was caught in the crush of a frenzied crowd in London and later died. “I don’t remember much about David’s early career,” Shaun admits. “But we’ve talked about what happened to him. If I let things get out of hand, I have no one to blame but myself.”

So guess whose career is rocketing off at warp speed? Like David, Shaun is priming his pop-record market by singing on his TV show. Now his LP of bubble-gum rock, Shaun Cassidy, is rising behind his Top Ten single, Da Doo Ron Ron, a remake of the Crystals’ 1963 oldie. Even more like his brother, Shaun’s hysterical fans have greeted his promotion tours by breaking through police lines in Germany, invading a radio station in Australia and carving their initials on his limousine in Detroit. “I know I have the power to whip audiences into a frenzy,” Shaun says. “But I never will. It’s sick.”

Indeed, Shaun is the reserved reverse image of his flamboyant older sibling. Until recently he lived at home with his lookalike mother, actress Shirley Jones. “I’m very close to my mother,” Shaun says. “She’s so family-oriented, it’s hard to understand why she went into show business in the first place.” His parents were divorced two years ago, and Shaun was deeply shaken by the accidental death of his father, actor Jack Cassidy, in an apartment fire last December. “There are so many things I’d like to ask him,” Shaun says softly. “He could really blow away people who didn’t know him very well. But I never doubted his love. He was a real father. My regret is that he died before he saw me on TV or heard my album.”

Shaun grew up in Beverly Hills with two younger brothers, Patrick, now 15, and Ryan, 11. (David, whose mother is Jack’s first wife, actress Evelyn Ward, grew up in New Jersey.) At the age of three weeks Shaun toured nightclubs with his parents. At 14, rebellion set in. “I’d stayed out all night a few times and was fouling up in a very limited way,” he protests. “But it really freaked my mother out.”

Shaun was shipped off to boarding school “to learn some values.” Instead, he hated it. He fled to New York for weekends with his father’s theater pals before his mother surrendered and brought him to a progressive school in L.A. where, Shaun jokes, “the kids had just gotten off heroin or killed their brothers.” He finally graduated from Beverly Hills H.S. a year ago.

Since his TV series started, Shaun’s romantic life has, as he puts it, “gone down the toilet.” He recently bought his first place after house-hunting in his BMW. But he more often hangs out in a bowling alley (where he’s in the 250-280 range on good nights) and discos with such old Beverly Hills chums as Donna Freberg (satirist Stan’s daughter) and Todd and Carrie Fisher (Eddie and Debbie’s kids). Despite the prospect of Shaun’s Farrah-like takeover of the show’s publicity, fellow Hardy Boy Parker Stevenson, 24, is also a close friend. Weekly, Shaun phones big brother David and his actress wife, Kay (Rich Man, Poor Man) Lenz, at their horse ranch in Santa Barbara.

Next for Shaun comes a new LP, a possible concert tour and a fresh batch of Hardy Boys segments. “The question is not whether I’ll be able to handle my career emotionally but whether I’ll be able to last physically,” he reckons. “But I’ve always been a very conservative person and know my limitations. If things get too crazy and unmanageable, I’ll slow down. There’s no rush. I plan to be around for a long time.”

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