Here’s a repost of a book review I originally wrote for Epinions.com. I reposted it on my original blog in 2013, and am reposting it again here, as/is, because I mentioned it in my review of Florence Henderson’s book and I want to repost that, too. This review was written as we were moving from North Carolina to Texas. I was exhausted, sore, and bitter.
Back in 1996, I met a man who described me as “earthy”. I had never heard that term before then, but it probably fits me pretty well. The way he meant it implies that I’m “coarse and unrefined”. In all fairness, I think that’s an accurate description of me. Having just finished Shirley Jones’ memoir, I can say there is at least one person in the world who is earthier than I am. See below to read my review, which probably wasn’t as scathing as it should have been. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with earthiness… although Shirley Jones is shockingly forthcoming about subjects I never would have expected to read about in a memoir written by a 79 year old woman who built a career on being pretty and refined.
In her book, Shirley Jones actually comments on the size of her sons’ (and stepson’s) junk, saying that they all inherited impressive “equipment” from their philandering, bisexual, bipolar father, Jack Cassidy. A lot of folks were taken aback by that, but imagine how people would have reacted if Shirley Jones were a father commenting on the impressiveness of his daughter’s genitals. There would be outrage aplenty. What kind of an editor thought that including that tidbit in a book was advisable?
She also writes about her favorite methods of masturbation, her ex husband’s cruel treatment of Cole Porter, having a threesome with said husband and some girl in their Vegas show, and being invited to swing with Joan Collins. Collins has demanded that the swinging story be struck from Jones’ book. I read it and it wasn’t that shocking… not compared to some of the other subject matter in Jones’ memoir.
Anyway, I’m glad to be done with this book. Now that I’m finished, I can go back to reading Pat Boone’s much cleaner book about hygiene and moral standards.
I had to take three Advil PMs last night. I took two at bedtime, then woke up at 1:00am and took another because my back was just screaming. Once I fell asleep again, I slept peacefully until about 7:00. As soon as I’m done writing this post, I’m going to get back to unpacking. I’d like to have this moving project mostly done by this evening. I’ve got travel plans to hatch.
Really, Mrs. Partridge? Shirley Jones’ lurid lifestyle…
Aug 11, 2013 (Updated Aug 11, 2013)
Review by knotheadusc
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Some interesting tidbits about Shirley Jones and many relationships with men.
Cons:Vulgar, tasteless, tacky… way too much information.
The Bottom Line: Shirley Jones could have done so much better than this.
I have a serious weakness for celebrity memoirs. A couple of years ago, I read and reviewed Florence Henderson’s life story and was utterly shocked when I read about how “Mrs. Brady” had picked up crab lice and “dated” her TV son, Barry Williams. Next to Shirley Jones, however, Florence Henderson has lived a very respectable life. According to Jones’ 2013 book, co-written with Wendy Leigh, Shirley Jones: A Memoir, “Mrs. Partridge” was a hell of a lot wilder. In fact, as much as I enjoy trash, even I cringed as Shirley Jones commented on the size of her sons’ “junk”, a gift apparently passed on to them by Jones’ first husband, the late Jack Cassidy. Yes, Shirley Jones, mother to Shaun, Patrick, and Ryan Cassidy and former stepmother to David Cassidy, actually commented on how well endowed Jack Cassidy’s sons are. Keep in mind, these guys are all now well into middle age. Also, imagine what the reaction would be if Shirley Jones were a father commenting on his daughter’s “equipment”. I see by reviews on Amazon.com that people were taken aback by Shirley Jones’ comments on her sons’ packages… they would be totally outraged if she were a father talking about his daughter’s nether regions.
Like most people born in the 70s and 80s, I know about Shirley Jones because she played Shirley Partridge in The Partridge Family, a show that originally aired in the early 70s and, like The Brady Bunch, lived on in reruns. I had never seen Shirley Jones in Oklahoma! or Elmer Gantry. I did not know she had a beautiful singing voice, though she constantly reminds her readers of that in her book, as well as all the men who made passes at her. Indeed, according to Jones, she’s been around the block a few times, though she makes it sound like other people were responsible for some of the kinkier things she’s done.
I happen to have one of the earlier downloads of Jones’ memoir, which I understand is going to be revised because Jones accused Joan Collins and her husband of wanting to swing with her and Jack Cassidy. Collins asserts that she has never been into swinging and had a lawyer send a sternly worded “cease and desist” letter to get that part of Jones’ story taken out of the book. Folks, having read that account, I can tell you that it did nothing to change my impressions of Joan Collins, though this book certainly changed my impressions of Shirley Jones, and not for the better.
Shirley Jones: A Memoir is full of way too much information. Since I recently blogged about how much I hate it when people complain about TMI, I feel almost hypocritical in mentioning it about Shirley Jones’ memoir. But seriously, I’m not sure I really needed to read the minute details about Shirley Jones’ experience having a threesome with Jack Cassidy and some girl who was in their Vegas act. Nor did I really want to know about Jones’ favorite method of masturbation, though she was apparently delighted to share. Sex sells, but there is such a thing as oversharing. Even I, as someone who dislikes the term TMI, can admit that.
Besides being a bit trashy, Jones’ book is not particularly well-written. It took awhile to finish it, even though it’s not really that long. Jones repeats herself a few times, reminding her readers that she enjoys a martini and a box of chocolates every day at 5:00pm. She also continually makes the point that she is very highly sexed, though apparently not as much as her first husband, philandering Jack Cassidy, was.
Jones’ comments about Jack Cassidy are somewhat interesting. She’s pretty clearly still hung up on him, despite the fact that he was very narcissistic and treated her and his sons very badly. Jones has been married to her second husband, Marty Ingels, since 1977. But much more of this book is dedicated to her stormy years with Cassidy, who was very charismatic and apparently influenced her to do things that ordinarily she never would have done. Actually, while I have no doubt that Cassidy was toxic, based on this book, I got the sense that Jones is also quite narcissistic in her own right. She also seems to have a penchant for marrying men with bipolar disorder; both of her husbands have been affected by the illness.
Obviously, I don’t know Shirley Jones personally, so I don’t know how much of this book is really the whole truth and how much was embellished just to sell copies. In all honesty, it seems very strange that a 79 year old woman who has made a life out of having a lovely, wholesome, maternal image would publish a book that paints her as being a borderline ho. Maybe she needs the money, though it seems a shame for her to get it in this way. This is a woman who has been in films, sung for presidents, had a successful TV show, and raised four sons: three of her own, and her former stepson, David Cassidy, whom she had always thought of as her own. Why would such a seemingly classy woman debase herself with a book full of tawdry, graphic anecdotes about her sexual exploits with a long line of men and at least one woman? It had to be for the money.
Anyway, I wasn’t impressed with Shirley Jones: A Memoir. I think it’s tasteless, vulgar, and tacky and given how many people shriek “TMI” in my presence, you know it’s saying something when I myself start shrieking “TMI”. Shirley Jones could have done better with this book by focusing on her successful career and family rather than the many sexual escapades she’s enjoyed with a wide variety of men. For most people, I’d say this book is very skippable.
Now to get back to Pat Boone’s much cleaner 50s era book on teen hygiene, Twixt Twelve and Twenty.
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