'The Music Man' Screening Turns Emotional With Cassidy Family Surprise at TCM Festival

The Music Man screening at the 2023 TCM Classic Film Festival turned out to be more overwhelming than anyone could have expected. While the audience knew star Shirley Jones would be attending, host Dave Karger teased a special treat for everyone after the movie. He wasn't joking, as that surprise turned out to be an appearance from Jones' sons Shaun Cassidy and Ryan Cassidy, as well as her grandchildren.

Jones, 89, and her family were in the audience to watch the entire film play on the TCL Chinese Theatre screen, as part of Warner Bros.' 100th-anniversary celebration. Each time she appeared onscreen, the crowd clapped as loud as they could to make sure Jones was aware of how much they loved her performance in the film. Jones played Marian Paroo in the film, opposite Robert Preston as Harold Hill. Jones and Preston both earned Golden Globe nominations, but they were snubbed by the Oscars.

(Photo: Daniel Levine)

After the film wrapped up, Karger brought Shaun onstage, shocking everyone in the crowd. Shaun, 64, remembered being on the set of The Music Man as a 4-year-old. It was "quite an experience" for the family to watch Jones on the big screen singing "'Till There Was You," Shaun said. Shaun also shared a great story about how he learned to ride a tricycle during the filming and chased around an "older kid" named Ronny Howard. Patrick Cassidy couldn't make it to the screening because he is in the middle of rehearsing for a theater production. Shaun's daughter, Mairin Cassidy, wore an original marching band costume from the film.

"This movie is very personal for our family on a number of levels," Shaun said. "But perhaps the greatest reason is that four weeks into rehearsal, my mother took the director, Morton DaCosta, to lunch and said, 'I only need to tell you I'm pregnant.' And she said, 'I got very big with the first kid, so I'm worried about what's going to happen.'"

(Photo: Daniel Levine)

DaCosta told Jones not to be afraid because they could use costumes to hide her pregnancy. She was afraid she could be fired, but DaCosta assured her that wouldn't happen. But when they filmed "'Til There Was You," Preston suddenly felt a kick. "My mother looks down and realizes that was Patrick Cassidy because he's just kicked Mr. Preston from the womb," Shaun said. Years later, Patrick, 61, introduced himself to Preston. "I believe we've already met," Preston replied.

Jones later came to the stage herself, visibly moved by the adoration from the crowd. "I'm really thrilled to be here," she said. "It's a beautiful place and I love being here. I love being a part [of this] with my family." Shaun later said it was Jones' idea to bring her grandchildren, many of whom were seeing The Music Man for the first time from start to finish. Thankfully, many more children and grandchildren can also enjoy The Music Man for the first time (or the millionth time) since it is streaming on HBO Max.