Review of “James Cagney Was My Babysitter”

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"James Cagney Was My Babysitter" by Ryan Cassidy book cover

Review of “James Cagney Was My Babysitter” by Suzanne 3/3/23

This is a cute children’s book that any child should love, but especially those who enjoy stories about fairies, elves, animals, etc. or those who are in need of a little encouragement.

Ryan, Shaun and David Cassidy - photo from a fan pageThe book, co-written by Ryan Cassidy (son of Shirley Jones, brother of David, Shaun and Patrick Cassidy), is about how he visited the late and legendary actor James Cagney as a boy when his father left him there one afternoon. Cagney and his wife baby-sat Ryan when his dad, actor/singer Jack Cassidy, was called away. Although he was nervous about being there with the big movie star, he soon found that Cagney was a wonderful man with a lot of imagination and love for animals.  This book was written about that visit.

The forward was written by his mom, Shirley Jones. When I was a child, I loved watching her act and sing in movies, like “The Music Man,” “Oklahoma,” and “Carousel.” I was also¬† a great fan of her and David in the TV show “The Partridge Family.” Later, she played John Black’s grandmother on “Days of Our Lives.” I’ve seen Ryan’s other brothers in many shows as well. Shaun Cassidy (most famous for starring in “The Hardy Boys” when I was in high school) played Dusty on “General Hospital” in 1987 (I’ve been watching that show since 1984). I was a huge David Cassidy fan and had his photo on my wall. I saw him perform twice in Las Vegas, too. I’ve seen Patrick Cassidy in many TV shows over the years. The whole family did a fun show called “Ruby and the Rockets” in 2009. Of course, I also saw many of James Cagney’s movies on late night TV when I was growing up. He was pretty amazing.

I’m glad to read this book and help introduce it to others. If you have children, nephews, grandchildren, etc. this would make a wonderful gift for them.


The Cassidy Family - from Patrick Cassidy's Instagram

Born into a powerhouse Hollywood family, RYAN CASSIDY, the youngest son of SHIRLEY JONES and JACK CASSIDY, was surrounded by the glitz and glam of Tinseltown from a young age. From his time on The Partridge Family set, to spending time with famous friends of his parents, he was used to being around actors. But having legendary Hollywood actor JAMES CAGNEY babysit him is a memory that still sticks with him even today. James Cagney accepts the 2nd AFI Life Achievement Award (1974). From YouTube
“My husband Jack and I remained friends with [James] and his dear wife, Billie, all through the years,” Shirley Jones says. “We once invited them to our house for drinks and dinner, and that evening Jimmy rolled back the rug in our den and performed all the dance numbers from Yankee Doodle Dandy! He was such a spirit.”
Encouraged by the impact the story of his afternoon with Cagney had on his own daughter, Ryan shares it in his sweet children’s book James Cagney Was My Babysitter [GoodKnight Books, March 14, 2023]. With a Foreword and Afterword by SHIRLEY JONES, and co-written with noted Partridge Family biographer JOHNNY RAY MILLER, it’s the tender tale of how in one afternoon away from the pressures of a perfectionist father, a shy 7-year-old falls under the spell of a wonderful babysitter who made him feel special. Hours later, he leaves an enthusiastic young man who’s infused with self-confidence and ready for life’s next adventure.
Perfect for both children who need a bit of encouragement as well as grandparents hoping to tap into the nostalgia of a bygone era, the book appeals to audiences of all ages with its whimsical illustrations and powerful messages: using your imagination throughout your life, cultivating meaningful friendships even as a child, and connecting and engaging with the world around you in an impactful way.
About the Authors Ryan Cassidy and Johnny Ray Miller


Buy the book here!

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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Young James Cagney (photo from TCM)