During the month of December, and only weeks after the passing of David Cassidy, Partridge Family Executive Producer Bob Claver quietly passed away after a brave battle with Alzheimer’s. He was a huge supporter of When We're Singin', and I'd like to share a few words about this great man who gave the world of entertainment many, many great television programs.
After my very first interview with Shirley Jones she told me that I needed to speak with Bob Claver. She said he was a great producer and she had a terrific relationship with him because he always dealt with everyone so fairly and with such professionalism. She said she had worked with a lot of producers through the years and they were not all like that. When I spoke with Bob, he had the same kind of respect for Shirley. He felt very close to Shirley through those years and off camera they shared a great friendship, supporting each other in their personal lives as well. Their ability to unite, to be a team and to teach the young actors how to stick together, is something that made a great impression on me.
Bob was my third or fourth interview for When We’re Singin.’ I had watched an archival interview with him beforehand, and I was really excited (and really nervous!) to have the chance to speak with him.
He was extremely knowledgeable and articulate about his life in the business and his time on The Partridge Family. The quality I remember most about him was his straight forward nature in answering every question with precise detail. He was a listener too, and he picked up on a few comments I made about my own life early in the conversation and brought them back into the dialog at the very end. I noticed it, and it felt really nice. It was a certain nod of approval that I cherish to this day, and will always remember.
It was Bob Claver’s daughter, Nancy, who initially connected me with her father for the interview. Shortly afterwards Nancy together with her father, became backers for the book, supporting the Kickstarter campaign and everything that went into the book’s publication.
During the campaign, Bob signed 25 bookmarks that were used to help raise funds. He even offered to sign copies of the book for all those who purchased it through the campaign, but sadly the Altzheimer’s had begun to set in and take hold by the time the book was printed.
Nancy cared for her father all through the run of that horrible disease, and when he passed in December 2017, she sent me a very thoughtful note, as my own mother had passed from dementia in June 2016, six months before the publication of the book.
I felt a certain kinship with Nancy through those last few years. She and her father became people I could call friends. Nancy told me that at one point when the disease was getting bad, she was reading passages from the book to him, and she could see him nod and smile with approval over the words chosen to represent him and his memories of that period in his life. That warmed my heart.
Bob actually began his career on Captain Kangaroo, a show many of us watched as young children—a show that influenced us to be kind to one another, gentle and caring. If only there were more shows like that on TV today. Thanks to Bob Claver, we had one of the best.
His experience on that show and his passion for kids carried through in everything he did, and anyone who watches The Partridge Family can see that the Executive Producer, Bob Claver, had his pulse, influence and control over every line and every script ever produced for that show.
I remember him telling me that they did an episode about Danny thinking he was adopted, and it scared children across the nation. It was the only show that received letters of concern, and for some time it was not included in the syndicated reruns. He was sad by this because, he said, it didn’t produce the kind of feelings for children that he believed in. He didn’t like the idea of anyone—child or adult—feeling confused about their family identity.
The Partridge Family was also known for tackling topical issues of the day—racial prejudice, religion, environment to name a few, and Bob was particularly proud of those episodes because he felt they made a positive difference in the lives of children. He cared very much about their sensitivities.
We lost a show business legend when we lost Bob Claver, and I hope that you will all say a silent prayer for him, for Nancy and for the rest of his loving family left behind. —Johnny Ray Miller