Seven months after David Cassidy‘s untimely death, shocking new details about the singer’s final years have come to light. In A&E’s original “biography” documentary special David Cassidy: The Last Session (premiering Monday, June 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT), it was revealed that The Partridge Family star was suffering from alcoholism that caused dementia prior to his untimely death.
“Dementia is a set of symptoms and it can be caused by a lot of things. It can be caused by Alzheimer’s. It can be caused by trauma to the brain or it can be caused by alcoholism or drug use, so the question isn’t really if David did have dementia because he certainly did have the signs of memory loss and dementia like symptoms. The question really was for David what caused the dementia and so I don’t think all the stories about him lying or deceiving anyone… I think it’s really about him coming to terms with his struggles,” the documentary’s producer Saralena Weinfeld exclusively told Closer Weekly in a new interview.
David singing in 1973.
Nearly 10 years before his death, David publicly admitted to having an alcohol problem and the star was subsequently arrested for several DUIs later in his life. Prior to his passing, the former teen idol had reportedly told his family he was living a clean and sober life but lied.
When asked if she was surprised to learn David wasn’t sober while filming the A&E documentary, Weinfeld confessed, “Yes, I was.” She continued, “We had focused the film on his struggle with dementia and certainly we knew about his past addiction but that was certainly not a part of the conversations we were having so I was surprised… Our perception wasn’t that David was a liar in any way so that really isn’t the story that we’re telling in the documentary. It’s really that he recognized at the end of his life that his dementia was perhaps caused by alcoholism.”
In February 2017 — months before he passed away at age 67 in November 2017 — David revealed to the world that he was battling dementia. “I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming,” he told People at the time.
The actor also opened up about watching his grandfather and mother battle the memory loss disease years ago. “In the end, the only way I knew [my mom] recognized me is with one single tear that would drop from her eye every time I walked into the room… I feared I would end up that way,” David recalled.
In February 2017, David additionally revealed he was putting his music career on the backburner to instead concentrate on his health and happiness. “I want to focus on what I am, who I am, and how I’ve been without any distractions. I want to love. I want to enjoy life,” he said.
Today, documentary producer Weinfeld believes David would be proud of David Cassidy: the Last Session. “I think David would feel good about it. I believe we created a very complex, nuance portrait of this man who experienced the ultimate in fame and celebrity and what he really wanted to do was to be seen as a complex, multi-dimensional person, someone who is more than a teen idol, someone who had artistic chops and so I think that that came with talking about the highs and the lows and being open about what he struggled with and he wanted to do that at the end of his life and I think that’s because he really wanted to be known as honestly as possible,” she told Closer.
“I really hope that this makes people love him even more. There’s really no shame in alcoholism and David struggled with an addiction that so many people struggled with. In a sense, I think the film makes him more relatable. He was a human. He was a person who struggled. He had a relationship with his father that was complicated,” Weinfeld added. “He had peaks and valleys in his career and he was someone who wasn’t just the face in the magazine and so I hope that people take that away from the film which is that David was a complex person that was dealing with things that a lot of people deal with.”
This story includes exclusive reporting by Lanae Brody.