Dave Madden, the comedian and actor best known as Reuben Kincaid in "The Partridge Family" television series, tells all in his delightful book Reuben on Wry.
Q: Thank you for agreeing to this interview Dave Madden, or should I say Reuben Kincaid? As you say in your book, you are better known as Reuben Kincaid, one of the most fondly remembered fictitious characters in the western world. Before we start this interview I’d like to start by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed your new book Reuben on Wry. You and your wife Sandra have written a highly entertaining book. A book that gives great insights into Dave Madden, Reuben Kincaid and the other lucky people that crossed paths with you through your long and varied career.
As this interview is written primarily for the David Cassidy Fansite, www.davidcassidyfansite.com my questions have more than a slight bent towards your time on the set of The Partridge Family and your memories of David Cassidy. I must point out to readers that this book is a lot more than this though. It details Dave’s personal life, his very varied professional life (including four TV series, numerous guest appearances, nightclubs and the theatre) and we also learn that Dave Madden is an accomplished magician and musician and all around nice guy. In Reuben on Wry you say “..although I didn’t know it at the start of “The Partridge Family” series, I’d stumbled into the role of a lifetime. Thirty-seven years later, Reuben Kincaid lives on and continues to be an important part of my life.” What did you like about playing Reuben Kincade?
DM: The spelling of Kincaid...you did it right the first time and then changed it to Kincade...which is wrong. Anyone trying to reach my website had better spell it... reubenkincaidbook.com or they'll never get there. And they would be better off! What did I like about playing Reuben? The money! Any TV actor who answers differently is probably lying. Face it, it's not exactly Shakespeare. "The role of a lifetime." Did I say that? Actually, unless my calendar is lying to me...it was "the role of 4 years" of what's left of my lifetime.
Q: You say that nine out of ten questions you get asked, even today, are “Dave, what is David Cassidy really like?” After the millionth time you started answering “Well he’s a lot like me. Get to know me and you’ll find out what he’s like.” Did David’s fans take you up on that offer?
DM: Actually, nobody ever took me up on that...or anything else. Nobody trusts a manager.
Q: I believe you first met David Cassidy on the first day on the set of "The Partridge Family." What were your first impressions of David?
DM: My first impression was the same as my last impression...nice guy, liked to have fun...didn't seem to take it all too seriously...at least not then. Talented, creative, destined to live to be at least 50. He made it.
Q: David’s father Jack Cassidy used to come to your beach house long before you first met Shirley Jones on the set of “The Partridge Family.” What were your impressions of Jack and are David and Jack very much alike?
DM: Jack was a friend of my manager. I saw him quite often. Often referred to as a man's man...I think it was true. Lot's of charisma. Good sense of humor, multi-talented. Never made it as big as he should have. He was not too much like David, as far as I could see.
Q: What was your favourite “Partridge Family” scene/episode?
DM: The Christmas show...because there was a dream sequence that allowed us to play rolls other than ourselves...that's always the most fun.
Q: What was your least favourite Partridge Family scene/episode?
DM: I have no idea...a hundred shows. I guess my least favorite was one that I wasn't in. Makes sense.
Q: Being an accomplished musician I am interested to know what you think of “The Partridge Family” music.
DM: Thanks for the word "accomplished." I knew five cords. That was two more than Danny knew. Partridge music was referred to, then, as "bubble gum rock" easy on the ears...at least mine. I grew up with Sinatra, Nat Cole and Ella Fitzgerald.
Q: Did you like dressing up in costume? For example: the unforgettable fairy costume in the ‘Fellini, Bergman and Partridge’ episode. I read that your wife had a poster of you in the fairy costume!
DM: Yes, my wife has that poster...because she's "sick". The only reason it's "unforgettable" is because she won't let me forget it. I don't think dressing as a girl is funny. Silly...but not funny.
Q: In your book you talk about your enjoyment of photography. In fact there are some interesting pictures in your book. You also said that you enjoyed filming on location. Whilst on location how did you cope with the crowds of David Cassidy fans? Particularly at King Island Amusement Park.
DM: Kings Island was the worst location in my experience...what makes me think you already knew that. Oh, that's right...you read the book. Photography has been a hobby of mine since I was in the service. I have thrown away more pictures than most people have taken. Digital photography really makes taking pictures enjoyable. The computer makes a wonderful photo lab.
Q: You appeared as a regular actor on four different TV series. You say in your book that only “The Partridge Family” produced lasting relationships for you. What was it about your co-stars that facilitated this?
DM: Did I say only “The Partridge Family”? Not completely true. I am good friends with Dave Ketchum from "Camp Runamuck", Vic Tayback on "Alice" until he died...Henry Gibson from “Laugh-In”...but I guess I'm in touch with more cast members of “Partridge” than any other. I really don't know why!
Q: In your book you say, “He (David Cassidy) was professional. … And we had a lot of fun. Two or three times, I remember getting into laughing fits in scenes with just the two of us. We couldn’t finish the scene because one or other of us would crack the other one up.” Do you remember what scenes these were and what precipitated the laughing fits?
DM: I remember one in particular...David and I were meeting at the taco stand, having a serious discussion and he suddenly adlibbed "listen, Reuben, I have to go pee.” Well, after that, we couldn't get any further in the scene without breaking up. We threw the script out the window and just ad-libbed whatever we wanted to say.
Q: Ken Mansfield in his book The White Book says that David had “…the most incredible laugh I have ever heard from any human being. When something struck him funny his laughter came rolling out from deep within and would make me feel good all over.” Do you agree with Ken’s description?
DM: I don't know that would be my evaluation...but then I worked for several years as a stand-up comedian and I've heard a lot of strange laughs.
Q: What was the funniest moment off the set of “The Partridge Family” that concerned David Cassidy? (That you can tell us about!)
DM: That's a tough one. I'm sure there must have been some, but you're asking me to go back 30 some years and remember moments off camera. I don't know...ask Danny. If he can't think of any he'll make one up.
Q: You quit smoking after “The Partridge Family” episode ‘Each Dawn I Diet’ in which Danny bet Reuben that he could stick to a diet longer than Kincaid could quit smoking. How tough was that and did it effect your work?
DM: That was a strange premise. Logically, if I were to quit and never smoke again...then, in order to beat me, he'd have to diet until he died of malnutrition. In fact, I did quit and never smoked again...Danny, fortunately, didn't die of anything.
Q: Are you left handed? In the PF episode 'Each Dawn I Diet' I seem to remember you writing on a notice board (or is that a bulletin board?) with your left hand. Did you know that many comedians are left handed? I wonder what comes first - the comedy or the left-handedness.
DM: Actually, I was only left-handed on the show...(kidding) but you may not know that left-handed people are usually not TOTALLY left handed. I eat and write left handed, but do many other things right-handed. I suppose that makes me ambidextrous.
Q: I have to ask you about your relationship with Danny both off and on the set of “The Partridge Family.” Did Danny correctly portray your relationship in his made for television movie?
DM: He and David put out TV movies. David's was far more accurate...and for a very good reason. He was older when we started and his memory of events was sharper. As to our relationship, Danny and I got along great both on and off the set...but sometimes his memory of things that happened is faulty.
Q: You took your family to see David perform twice. You saw “The Rat Pack Is Back” at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas. Did you enjoy this show?
DM: Very much...great cast, good songs...what more can I say? Having worked with Sinatra, I could relate.
Q: You also took your family, including granddaughters to see David Cassidy in concert in Florida. Did you enjoy this experience?
DM: I enjoyed watching David...Unfortunately, he introduced me after his first song. Too early. I spent a lot of the rest of the show asking autograph seekers to wait until the show was over.
Q: Although you consider yourself retired you still work occasionally on the radio series, “Adventures In Odyssey.” Would you consider doing stand up comedy again? Maybe if David Cassidy asked you to open for him or maybe on one of your cruise ship holidays?
DM: “Odyssey” is radio...I love radio and I can do it in my jammies...stand up? Never! And you can quote me. Too bad, I'm sure audiences are just salivating to watch a 76- year-old comedian do his thing...whatever my thing would be at my age. Octogenarian humor I suppose.
Q: Frank Sinatra said, “I believe that Dave Madden is one of the bright young comedy stars in show business.” How did you meet and what was he like to work with?
DM: Notice he used the word: young? Gives you an idea of how long ago that was. 1964! Frank and The Rat Pack saw me perform at the Chi Chi in Palm Springs. Frank asked me personally if I would open for him at the Cal-Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe. Frank and I got along great, but opening for a star of his calibre is not the greatest thing to do. I had no name at all. The audience was only there to see Frank and I was just in the way.
Q: It appears that your family, especially your four granddaughters, and your friends and putting the garbage out keep your fairly busy these days. Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I can’t end the interview without thanking you for the pleasure you have given millions of people, your fans, all around the world in your role as Reuben Kincaid, and in your three other TV series, numerous guest appearances, nightclubs and the theatre work. Thank you!
A: Yes...especially the garbage. I hope to get "Down Under" someday. I can't imagine that you folks think of yourselves as being down under anything. For you, we are undoubtedly "Down Under"...and I must tell you...it's getting heavy!
To order Dave Madden's new book, go to www.reubenkincaidbook.com.