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Should David Cassidy Have Let His Roots Show on Celebrity Apprentice?

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David Cassidy -- the Justin Bieber of the 1970s -- had a tough go of it on Celebrity Apprentice. Like the many who are old enough to remember the days before behaving badly was enough to make you famous, he was out of place in a show that's mostly about just that. If only he had channeled his Sing Sing ancestor.

Yes, he had a great-grandfather who did a stint in the infamous prison, along with Irish famine emigrants and railroad workers -- people who needed real life survivor skills, rather than the kind that put Richard Hatch on the map. When Cassidy remarked that he could have punched Hatch, that was his gene pool speaking.

The ancestors populating the paternal side of Cassidy's family tree were all New Yorkers (mostly from Queens) until his father, actor Jack Cassidy, went Hollywood. Heritage-wise, Jack Cassidy was what I refer to as a half and half -- in his case, half Irish and half German -- with surnames like Murphy and Fitzpatrick blending with the likes of Koehler and Bauer. The Irish portion was almost to a man railroad workers, and given their positions, apparently quite apt with jobs such as locomotive engineer and foreman. Back then, to be in a position of authority in that industry meant that you were tough. There's no doubt; these fellows would have pushed back.

His mother, actress Evelyn Ward, hailed from an entirely different background. I happen to live a few blocks from the Indian King Tavern where New Jersey took its first critical step to becoming a state in 1777, and by that time, plenty of her forebears were already in the new state. Aside from a dash of Swiss and a little more Irish, this part of Cassidy's tree marches steadily back in New Jersey for generations. In fact, some of his ancestors were among the founders of Newark. Were we* to dig more deeply, I suspect we'd find a few Revolutionary War participants.

So Cassidy was reigning in his ancestral instincts when he said that punching wasn't his style, but I suppose that's the difference between someone whose ancestor served time in prison and someone like Hatch who did the time himself.

* Thanks to Kim Garvey with whom I did this rapid-fire research.