book reviews, celebrities

Repost: Shirley Jones is “earthy”…

Here’s a repost of a book review I originally wrote for 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 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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Cancer claims so many special souls…

I’ve met a lot of people online that I’ve never seen face to face. For years, I wrote on product review site called I met a lot of great people on that site and made about $12,000 reviewing stuff over the course of about eleven years. I was sad when Epinions crashed a few years ago, even though things had been going downhill for a long time and writing there was less fun than it once was. I had great memories of successful reviews, funny exchanges, great parties, and even the odd Internet drama.

In the wake of Epinions’ demise, I gained a bunch of Facebook friends in the form of ex Epinions writers. Several of those people have since died. Quite a few have had cancer, although I can think of one who died of extreme old age, like Granniemose (Virginia Kiraly). I still see her comments on old Facebook posts from years ago. They always make me smile, since she was in her 90s and still sharp as a tack.

The ones who have died of cancer have been quite young. The most recent death was that of Steve Murray, a gay academic who wrote wonderful reviews of books, movies, and music, and once gave me a hard time because I panned Shirley Jones’ sleazy life story. Steve was a fan of Ms. Jones’s and praised her acting and singing abilities. I have no doubt she is a very talented performer, but her book had excerpts about how she and her ex husband, Jack Cassidy, once went swinging with Joan Collins (I got an early copy that still had that bit in it– she was later court ordered to remove it). She also included commentary on the size of her sons’ and David Cassidy’s penises. Apparently, being well-endowed was a “gift” from Jack Cassidy. While I was kind of amused by the revelation, I still thought mentioning it in the book was kind of tacky and said so in my review. Steve thought I was too “hard” (heh heh) on Shirley for that and told me so in an annoying comment. Aside from that, we got along fine.

Steve died at the end of August. He had large B cell lymphoma. I read in his blog that he was going to exit by way of a physician assisted suicide. He’d had a last ditch bone marrow transplant and it failed, so there was nothing more to do than wait for the inevitable. He was gone at the end of August, like our sweet beagle, Zane was. Zane died of lymphoma, too.

Yesterday, I read the news that a much beloved Epinionator, Erin McCarty, is nearing the end of a long, arduous journey with ovarian cancer, which was discovered in November 2016. Erin was known as bilbopooh on Epinions. She’s a gifted writer who has a very sunny, sweet disposition, despite having a really rough time of things, especially in the past few years. A couple of years ago, she lost her friend, Beth (also on Epinions) to a brain tumor. She also lost her mother, Corinne, to ovarian cancer. Her husband, Will, died in July of this year, although I’m not sure what ended his life. I know he had a lot of health problems and spent a lot of time living in nursing homes. Erin had planned to have a memorial for Will, but was unable to make it happen before she was herself in the hospital.

Erin’s father, Ron, has been updating everyone on social media about his daughter’s situation. She’s only in her 30s, but has touched so many people. I’ve read so many heartfelt, loving tributes to her, even though she’s not yet gone. Yesterday, Erin’s dad wrote that they had planned to start chemotherapy, but she’s too ill to receive it now and likely would never again be well enough that chemo would do anything more than make her sicker. Erin’s dad says that she’s in the end stages of cancer, and may not be around for much longer. As difficult as this is for Erin, I can only imagine what her father is going through right now. That man has experienced so much loss in such a short amount of time. I’m offering prayers for Erin, but I’ve also said a few for Ron. He must be overwhelmed.

I remember I had a Facebook friend some time ago who knew Erin McCarty personally. His daughter had worked with me at a Presbyterian church camp in 1993. I hadn’t seen or communicated with his daughter, whose name is also Erin, since we finished working at the camp, but for awhile, her dad was Facebook friends with me, solely because Erin McCarty was a friend, too. He said I must be alright if I was friends with “wonderful” Erin McCarty. Of course, I don’t think Erin ever met an enemy. She seems to be a bright light in many people’s lives, which I know is a very rare quality in a person. I know Erin is a woman of strong Christian faith, which I’m sure is very comforting for her.

The capacity to touch people is so much greater now, since we have the Internet. I know I’ve affected people I don’t know and will never meet, simply due to things I’ve written. While I know not everyone is “blessed” by my writing, I also know some people have found value in it. When I’m feeling low or worthless, I remember those who have had good things to say about what I do. I remember people like Steve, Virginia, and Erin, who have healed, entertained, and educated so many people through writing. I don’t pretend to be nearly as special or talented as they are, or were… this is just my little corner of the Web. I know some people like coming here and return every day, even when I’m in a cranky mood. Of course, some come here because they want to trash me. Such is life. We’re all humans, and most of us aren’t as genuinely lovely, sunny, and awesome as Erin is. But when I find someone who is so genuinely wonderful, yet gets so sick with a horrible disease like cancer, it does tend to make me wonder if maybe there’s truth in the old saying, “only the good die young.”

Well… I don’t know what else I can write about this. Maybe reading the many tributes to Erin as she faces the end of her cancer journey is a valuable reminder to be a better person. And for those who don’t know her, I can help spread the light by writing about her on my blog. I don’t claim to be particularly enlightened or wise, but I do know something special when I see it. And I think Erin is extraordinarily special. I hope the time she has left is peaceful, serene, and as comfortable as possible.

Edited to add: Erin passed away on October 22, 2019 after one last Facebook post in which she encouraged those who wanted to meet her to make the trip “soon”. I am sure her loved ones are heartbroken, but I take some comfort in knowing that her pain and suffering is over… and maybe she is reunited with those who made the journey before her.