Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Looking back at Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson (The Hardy Boys)

Stevenson and Cassidy in The Hardy Boys 1977


Detective shows were all the rage on American television in the 1970s.  There was Columbo, Kojack and The Rockford Files, to name a few.  During that time, ABC needed something to bolster their Sunday night lineup.  Producer Glen A, Larson was assigned the task of of developing a hipper (yet still wholesome) hour-long series featuring the youthful sleuths from Edward Stratemeyer's popular Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books.

Lawson found three attractive actors to star as slightly older versions of the well-known characters, and The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries was launched in 1977.  Shaun Cassidy, 18, was cast as  amateur sleuth Joe Hardy.  Parker Stevenson, 25, played his older brother, Frank Hardy, and Pamela Sue Martin, 24, was chosen to portray Nancy Drew.  

Although Shaun and Parker played sibling detectives, the two had very different interests in real life..  Parker was an aspiring architect and a recent graduate of Princeton University.  He was about to enter the business program at New York University (NYU) when he auditioned for The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.  Shaun, meanwhile, was not as academically inclined.  He was a rising pop singer.

Of his relationship with Shaun Cassidy, Parker told Entertainment Weekly, "Shaun and I couldn't have been more different, but we have the same sense of humour.  We have a kind of bizarre, dry sense of humour, and we cracked each other up all the time.  It didn't really make sense because I was a preppy Ivy League kid, and he was the heir to this entertainment family.  But I came out and did a screen test with him and got cast right away."

As the series progressed, the character of Nancy Drew received less and less screen time.  Pamela Sue Martin departed in Season 2 and was replaced by Janet Louise Johnson.  For the third season, (1978-1979), the character of Nancy Drew was dropped and the series was retitled The Hardy Boys.

The Hardy Boys was abruptly cancelled in January of 1979, halfway through Season 3, due to low ratings.  Concerning the cancellation, Parker Stevenson told Entertainment Weekly (EW): "I don't know what would have happened to the show if we had kept making it.  At what point are we getting too old to be running around with flashlights."


Shaun Paul Cassidy was born on September 27, 1958 in Los Angeles California.  The former teen heartthrob recently turned 65 years old.  His parents, actors Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy, married in August 1956, soon after Jack's divorce from his first wife, Evelyn Ward, with whom he shared a son, the late David Cassidy.  David, who passed away in 2017, also became a teen idol while starring on The Partridge Family with his stepmother, Shirley Jones.

Shaun is the eldest of of the three sons of Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy.  His brother, Patrick Cassidy, was born on January 4,1962.  The youngest sibling, Ryan Cassidy was born on February 23, 1966.  Both Patrick and Ryan are actors.

While still in high school, Shaun signed a contract with a division of Warner Brothers records.  In 1977, his first solo album, Shaun Cassidy, was released in the United States.  The album included "Da Doo Ron Ron," which became a number one single in the U.S.  At the same time, Shaun began starring in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.

After the The Hardy Boys ended its run, Shaun starred in Breaking Away, a 1980 comedy-drama that was based on the 1975 film of the same name.  The TV series was set during the year before the events in the film and Shaun took over the role of Dave Stohler, played by Dennis Christopher in the film.  The character had a passion for bicycle racing and all things Italian.  Unfortunately, the series was caught up in the 1980 Screen Actor's Guild strike.  Although strongly promoted by ABC, it received low ratings and was cancelled after the filming of eight episodes.

In recent years, Shaun Cassidy has built a successful career as a television writer and producer.  He has created series such as American Gothic and Invasion.  He also served as an executive producer of NBC's hit medical drama New Amsterdam.  In 2020, Shaun brought his one man show, The Magic of Midnight Sky, to the stage.  It was his first live music performance in nearly 40 years.

Shaun Cassidy has been married three times and divorced twice,  He has seven children.  His first wife was model/actress Ann Pennington (born June 3, 1950),.  Shaun and Ann wed on December 1,  1979.  They had two children, a son named John Cassidy (also known as Jake). and a daughter, Caitlin Ann Cassidy.  Shaun and Ann divorced in 1993.  

On May 7, 1995, Shaun married TV actress/director Susan Diol.  They had a daughter named Juliet Jones Diol Cassidy (born March 19, 1998).  Shaun and Susan divorced in 2003.

Shaun wed his current wife, producer Tracey Lynne Turner, on August 28, 2004.  They have four children.  Their first child, a son named Caleb Turner Cassidy, was born on March 3, 2005.  Three more children followed: Roan Howard Cassidy, Lila Tracey Cassidy and Marin Cassidy.


Shaun and Tracey


Parker Stevenson was born Richard Stevenson Parker, Jr. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 4, 1952. He is the son of investment advisor Richard Stevenson Parker, Sr. and Sarah Meade, an actress who appeared on Broadway and in many television commercials.  Parker's mother brought him to filming sessions when her was five years old.  The youngster made a couple of minor television appearances, despite his father's disapproval.

In 1971, Parker graduated from Brooks Preparatory School in North Andover, Massachusetts.  At Brooks School, he performed in a few plays, but his intention was to be an architect rather than an actor.  He enrolled in the architecture program at Princeton University.  

So, why did he Parker change course from architecture to an acting career?  In an interview with Classic Film & TV Cafe, he said, "I graduated from the architecture program at Princeton, but decided I didn't want to keep doing architecture and I really didn't know what to do.  I'd been acting since I was 14, doing movies, television, and commercials.  Just as I was graduating, I got offered The Hardy Boys, so I made the switch and really committed to acting at that point."

After graduating from Princeton, Parker moved to Hollywood where he landed a role alongside Sam Elliott in the 1976 film Lifeguard.  Television stardom followed when he was cast as  Frank Hardy in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.  He told Classic Film & TV Cafe that he got the role "because the producers had seen a couple of the movie he'd done.  "In fact, I had done one with Pamela Sue Martin a couple of years before (1974's Our Time) and she ended up being Nancy Drew.  So, I think that was the connection for them."

After The Hardy Boys, Parker Stevenson went on to appear in series such as Falcon Crest, Baywatch, and Melrose Place,  On Falcon Crest, he had the recuring role of Joel McCarthy from 1984 to 1985.  On Melrose Place, he played Steve McMillan for six episodes in 1993.  From 1989 to 1999, he portrayed Craig Pomeroy in 28 episodes of Baywatch. His role in Lifeguard  helped him win the part..

Parker played Billy Hazard in North and South, Book II, the 1986 sequel to the 1985 hit TV miniseries.  His then-wife, Kirstie Alley, also co-starred a Virginia Hazard, Billy's sister.  

In 1988, Parker starred in a short-live crime/comedy series called Probe, about an eccentric prodigy and his secretary who investigate mysteries. Parker stated that Probe was his favourite of all the TV shows he's done.  He said, "My favourite was Probe, which I did for ABC,  It ran a year.  I loved the show.  It was Isaac Asimov's Probe, so it had really trippy interesting stories.  It was up against The Cosby Show, or something, so it struggled in the ratings.  It was the closest to me in terms of how I think and what I'm like in real life."

Parker appeared in episodes of Judging Amy (2002) and Bull (2016), as well as TV movies such as His Secret Family (2015), A Christmas Reunion (2015). The Perfect Daughter (2016) and My Christmas Prince (2017).

Most recently, Parker starred in Netflix's Greenhouse Academy as Louis Osmond.  From 2017 to 2020, he appeared in 39 episodes of the series.  He also played the role of Simon in the 2021 science fiction film Last Call in the Dog House.

Parker Stevenson has been married twice.  His first wife was actress Kirstie Alley, whom he married on December 1983.  They adopted two children, a son, William True Stevenson, in 1992 ,and a daughter, Lillie Price Stevenson, in 1995.  They divorced in 1997.

On September 29, 2019, Parker wed for a second time, to celebrity chef Lisa Schoen.  The wedding took place at the Demetria Vineyards in Olivos, California.



* Parker Stevenson's first wife, Kirstie Alley, died of colon cancer on December 5, 2022.  She was 71 at the time of her passing.

* Parker co-starred with Burt Reynolds in the 1983 film Stroker Ace.  The car racing film was unsuccessful both critically and at the box office.

* Parker Stevenson's younger brother, Hutch Parker (born November 19, 1963) is a producer and actor.

* From 1993 to 1995, Shaun Cassidy appeared in the musical Blood Brothers on Broadway.  His half-brother, David Cassidy, was also a member of the cast.

* Pamela Sue Martin, the original Nancy Drew on The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, went on to play socialite Fallon Carrington on the primetime ABC soap opera Dynasty from 1981 to 1984.  Below is a 1977 publicity photo of her for the Nancy Drew Mysteries series.

SOURCESEntertainment Weekly (EW.com), "The case of the dreamy detectives: Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson remember The Hardy Boys,"  by Kristen Baldwin, March 16, 2023; Classic Film Cafe, "Parker Stevenson Talks About The Hardy Boys, Prob, and His Passion for Photography," July 24, 2014; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

- Joanne

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