First Encounter Of A Da-Idy Kind
by Cat Ortiz-White
In December 1980, I moved with my then boyfriend Mark Conlan to San Diego, CA. In the fall of 1981 I started a fan club for David Cassidy titled "The Da-idy Fan Club." In April of 1981 David came to town to do the play "Little Johnny Jones." It was first advertised to run from April 25th to May 2nd. However it was later changed to May 1st to May 3rd.
On April 31st, I spoke with the theater's press representative Danny Martin about a meeting with David. Danny let me know that, unbeknownst to most of the public, David had a broken foot and they had already had to cancel many TV and newspaper interviews. He asked when I was going to see the show and I let him know I'd be there on opening night. He told me that he might be there and that I should bring several of my fan club packets to give to various important people and that if he saw David he'd try to introduce him to me. Danny also told me where the backstage entrance/exit was, so I'd know where to go if I wanted to wait for David after the show. He added that David was a really fantastic guy, and that his broken foot was being treated by the San Diego Chargers football team's doctor.
Opening night, I went to wait for David at the backstage entrance before the show since I knew not as many people would be waiting for him then. I was joined by only two other women who worked for "Teen Bag Magazine." I had flowers and my fan club packet and newsletters for David. The other women had flowers and champagne. David arrived in a white Mercedes. He saw us and smiled a big smile and said, "Hi!" We said "Hi!" back as he got out and the car drove away to park. The other women asked how his foot was and he said, "Oh, o.k., it's getting better," and we said, "Good." We handed David our flowers and he thanked us. I told him I'd started a fan club for him and handed him the fan club material. He said "Oh, you did?! How nice! That's really sweet." David was carrying something, which he said was an ice pack, that was really cold and was freezing his arm off! We all were carrying things and jumbling them around; one woman put her picture on my stuff so David could sign it. I told him that if he wanted to make the fan club official he could sign the membership card. He said, "o.k., where do I sign?" I said, "Right there, see? Above where it says, 'David Cassidy.'" he said, "Oh, I don't know if I can sign that small." Then, because we had so many things to carry, he had to put his arm around me and almost hug me as he signed. He signed really big, all over the card, and his pen wasn't the greatest, so it didn't come out all that well.
Then we finished handing him everything; I asked him if I could take his picture, and he said, "Sure," and posed in a really nice way. I was having trouble because I had so much stuff; he said, "Got it?" and I said, "Yeah." Then he posed again and I snapped the picture. We all said, "Thank you," and he said "Thank YOU!" then went down the stairs that led backstage.
I handed out some fan club leaflets to the crowd before the show and then took my seat which was in the third row, in the center. The show was very old fashioned and very patriotic, something I'm NOT. However, the special effects were nice and I thought some of it was very cute. The cast was also marvellous. Most of all, I was really impressed at all the super heavy tap dancing David was doing! Especially with a broken foot!! No one else even knew he had an injury at all. Unfortunately the sound system was horrible and I knew the reviews wouldn't be favorable because of that. Needless to say, not only was I correct about them ripping David up because of the sound system but also for not being James Cagney as well as an "ex-teen-idol!"
After the show, I went to the top of the stairs to wait for David again. The Teen Bag women were there and we said "Hi!" again and talked. Then a guy went by and one asked, "Was that Sam Hyman?" I looked and said "Oh my God, it is!" As you probably know, he's David's best friend. We saw him cross the street, get in the car and drive it up to the curb to wait for David. One of them said Sam was now David's manager and they went over to talk to him. In the meantime, David came out and worked his way up the stairs, signing autographs for people. When he got close, I yelled to them, "Here he comes!" and they came running back. I took a picture of him signing someone's autograph; then he saw me and came close. I told him he was really great and he said, "Oh, thank you," then came over, grabbed me and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. Then he went to the car as we were flashing pictures. I never did see Danny Martin there, so later I left the packets at his desk.
The next day, Mark and I went to the show together. We waited for David outside the entrance before the show. When David got out of the car I said "Hi. How are you today?" He said, "Oh, a little lame today." As he limped over, he had sunglasses on and just seemed really tired and out of it. I asked him to sign a blank piece of paper I had, since the previous signature didn't come out too well and I'd just shrink this on the membership cards. As DC signed, I explained this to him; he just looked at me, nodded his head up and down and said, "Uh-huh," then saw Mark who was taking pictures and said "Hi!" to him. "Mark said "Hi!" back. Then David went down the stairs slowly, really limping heavily. As we left, mark said, "My God! Did you see him going down the stairs! And to think that man has to do a show in less than an hour!!"
We went to the show and this time we were in the balcony. The sound was better this time. After the show, Mark went home and I stayed after to see David again. There was a big crowd waiting for him this time, including a girl in a wheelchair at the top. Finally, after a while someone said David had left through the front. A little girl who was waiting moaned, and someone else who was writing for her college drama class, who knew about David's broken foot, told her that was probably why he'd gone through the front door. I'm sure that's why too. He was in a LOT of pain that day! I went home and changed into blue jeans and my Beach boys t-shirt and red, white & blue hat to come back to wait for David. There were some girls there who had waited because they weren't sure if David had left or not. We talked a while and then they left. A van pulled up, and it was the people with the girl in the wheelchair. The asked if David had come out and I said I didn't know, which I didn't at that point, and they drove away.
I sat there and I was getting really cold because I had forgot to bring a jacket. Then David came. I said, "Hi!" and he said "Hi!" as he got out of the car. I took another picture of him. Then he said, "You saw the Beach Boys, huh?" and I told him I'd seen them here in San Diego. I said they were pretty good and he was pretty great himself, especially with his broken foot and all! By this time he came right up to me, and he started rubbing my arm really affectionately. It really felt good - he was so warm! He said, "You saw the show, huh?" and I said, "Yeah, I was at Friday and today with Mark." I asked if he'd read my letter and he said he had, and thanked me for it. I said I hoped to see him in LA, and he said, "I REALLY hope to see you too!" All this time he was really close, looking me straight in the eye, rubbing my arm. It was GREAT! Then he started down the stairs and I started to leave. Suddenly a flashbulb popped into my head and I said, "Oh yeah." I ran down half the stairs to him and asked where I could send the newsletters to him, and he said, "Oh, Samuel will be along in a minute. No wait, just send them here, send them to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion." "And you'll get them?" I asked. "Yeah, just send them there in care of me." "Oh bye, take care of yourself," I said, And he said, "Well, I'm trying. Bye," and then I went home. I then realized I hadn't eaten all day, so I ate something.
I later received two 8X10 B&W promo photos, one had only his signature and the other was autographed "To Cathy, lots of love, David Cassidy." Unfortunately, the one to me was not processed correctly and it later faded to brown and white. I later went to see the show in L.A. where I took some very nice on-stage photos and I got two nice off-stage B&W photos. I didn't get to visit with David as he was in a hurry that day but I did see Sam and got a photo taken with him.