David Cassidy’s last years: his third divorce, a dementia diagnosis and bankruptcy

David Cassidy divorced for the third time in 2014, though the ugly divorce wasn’t finalized until 2016. Early in 2017 David went public with his dementia diagnosis and after a brief stay at the hospital for organ failure in November 2017, the former teen idol passed away surrounded by his loved ones.
Divorce finalized April 2016

Three times divorced and an estranged daughter

David Cassidy was married and divorced a total of three times. His first marriage was to Kay Lenz. The two married in 1977 and were divorced about six years later. This was during the height of David’s success, though he was already deeply unhappy at the time. Only a few years before he married Kay he confessed to feeling burnt up inside, unable to enjoy his fame or anything that came with it.

Kay Lenz-David Cassidy's first wife

Kay Lenz-David Cassidy’s first wife

It’s somewhat unsurprising that it was claimed that his drug use led to his divorce from Kay. Many years later she denied the allegation and said it wasn’t the main reason for their breakup. That alone seems to indicate, however, that it did play a role.

A year after his first divorce he met his second wife, Meryl Tanz. The two were married in 1984, but broke up in 1986 already. There is no confirmed reason as to why the couple called it quits, but the fact that his daughter Katie was born that same year might have had something to do with it. She wasn’t Meryl’s daughter, but David’s child with Sherry Williams. According to multiple sources, David and Katie have had a complicated relationship throughout most of her life.

At some point he confessed to barely knowing her, even though she was already 30. He did say, though, that he was incredibly proud of her. And towards the end of his life, the two seem to have reconciled.

His longest marriage and ugliest divorce

David married Sue Shifrin in 1991. She was already very pregnant at the time and gave birth to their son Beau in February that same year. They made it through 23 years together before Sue filed for divorce in 2014. She did so after David had been arrested for driving under the influence for the third time in three years. It soon became evident, however, that their marriage had been declining for months already.

Meryl Tanz-David Cassidy's second wife

Meryl Tanz-David Cassidy’s second wife

Perhaps David’s arrest spurred Sue into action, but it was, at most, the final straw. Whilst she didn’t confirm her reasons for filing, she said at the time: “This has been looming for some time. I am truly heartbroken our marriage is ending.”

David, on the other hand, stated: “It is very sad that Sue chose to take this approach. I have tried to resolve this amicably outside of the public eye. I have reached out to her with no response over the last 3 months. It’s a sad day for me and for our son Beau.”

It’s pretty clear that the divorce was mostly Sue’s idea and that David wasn’t ready to give up yet. But in the end, he did let her go and never seems to have put up a fight to keep her.

Still, the divorce turned ugly and unfortunately publicly so. For over two years the two battled each other over the divorce. David’s alcohol and drug use were addressed as well as his DUI’s and an alleged hit and run including a criminal investigation at the time.

To make matters worse David was forced to file chapter 11 bankruptcy and Sue demanded to be kept updated on the proceedings, in case there was any money that was owed to her.

The divorce was finalized in 2016, but aside from actually being granted the divorce, Sue left the marriage more or less empty-handed.

Bankruptcy, DUIs, and a dementia diagnosis

David Cassidy battled with alcohol and drug abuse for much of his adult life. He went into rehab several times and was arrested three times for driving under the influence. There was even an alleged hit and run incident, though David never did go to jail, leading us to believe that the allegations were unfounded after all.

David Cassidy says cheese with third wife Sue Shifrin

David Cassidy says cheese with third wife Sue Shifrin

One of his lowest points during his divorce from Sue was certainly his chapter 11 filing of bankruptcy. Whilst his debt did not quite exceed the value of his assets, his situation was bad enough to file for bankruptcy and arrange for payment plans of debts owed to creditors.

Some of his assets needed to be auctioned off and a house he owned with Sue needed to be sold for a lot less than its actual value because the two could not agree on how to proceed.

David continued to go on tours in order to make a living. He also fought in court for royalties owed from The Partridge Family syndication. At 66 it became evident that he was a broken man.

During a concert David sat on the stage and rambled on and on without making much sense, finally even tumbling off the stage, leading visitors to believe that he might be inebriated, especially since he reportedly slurred his words as well.

After the incident, David confessed to having been diagnosed with dementia, something he apparently had seen coming for some time, but didn’t want to admit. His mother and grandfather both had suffered from dementia and he always suspected that the fate would await him as well.

Sue Shifrin & David Cassidy look happy

Sue Shifrin & David Cassidy look happy

His final days

In November 2017 it was reported that David Cassidy had been hospitalized and diagnosed with organ failure. Apparently, he desperately needed a liver transplant and his condition was rapidly declining.

Despite his many problems and the pain he caused his family due to his alcoholism, it was reported that the Cassidy family reunited with him and was there in his final days. His failings aside, his family did love him and wanted to be there for him.

On November 21st it was officially confirmed in a statement by the Cassidy family that David had passed away.

The statement said: “David died surrounded by those he loved, with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long. Thank you for the abundance and support you have shown him these many years.”

It’s somewhat unclear whether his ex-wife Sue was there at any point. Her name was trending on social media, especially on Twitter, during David’s last days. Many media outlets reported on his career and his decline during that time and his unpleasant divorce from Sue was obviously a topic as well. We don’t know whether the two managed to get back on friendlier terms, but David was at least close to his son Beau.

Sources: people.com dailymail.co.uk radaronline.com thesun.co.uk google.de newsweek.com people.com

Sue Shifrin & David Cassidy holding hands

Sue Shifrin & David Cassidy holding hands

David with his daughter, Katie

David with his daughter, Katie

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