The Partridge Family, despite being a totally fictional rock and roll group, had string of hit singles and albums in the early 1970s. If Dave Madden had been their real agent, he would have made a fortune. But the Canadian-born comedian and actor, who passed away Thursday at age 82, only played an agent on TV.
Madden played Reuben Kincaid, the forever-annoyed mentor and agent to The Partridge Family on the iconic ABC-TV sitcom of the same name, that ran four seasons and 96 episodes from 1970 to 1974.
Madden died at a hospice center near his Jacksonville, Florida, home after a lengthy illness, his niece Mary Frances Miller told The Associated Press.
Though born in Ontario in 1931, at the age of eight Madden was sent to be raised by relatives in Terre Haute, Indiana, following the death of his father. He developed an early interest in stage magic and stand-up comedy. His big break came in 1963 when Frank Sinatra caught his act at a Beverly Hills nightclub and recommended him to Ed Sullivan, then host of the most influential variety show on the air.
On The Partridge Family, Madden’s character was a surrogate father to the clan of Partridge kids, whose mother played by Shirley Jones was supposed to have been widowed. The failings of Reuben Kincaid in that parental role, especially with the group’s pre-teen bass player, played by Danny Bonaduce, was the source of much of the show’s humor.
“His relationship with Danny Bonaduce is what made the show work,” Jones told The New York Times after learning of Madden’s passing. “This strange, mad little boy and the grown man who was even worse as a father figure.”
Though Reuben Kincaid found the Partridge Family children an endless source of annoyance, when the cameras stopped rolling Dave Madden “loved kids,” Jones said.
Bonaduce has said that Madden aided him during a time of family strife. The actor-turned-radio-personality, now 54 years old, remembered Madden on his Twitter account Thursday.
Dave Madden was a great guy & like family to me. He taught me to drive a car when I was 10. One of many great memories. I’ll truly miss him.
— Danny Bonaduce (@TheDoochMan) January 16, 2014
The Partridge Family launched the careers of stars David Cassidy, who became one of the top teen idols of the 1970s, and actress Susan Dey who was later best known for her role on the 1980s drama L.A. Law.
In addition to The Partridge Family, Madden appeared on many other TV shows of the era, including Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, Bewitched, Happy Days and The Love Boat.