On This Day: ‘The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries’ Premieres in 1977

by Atlanta Northcutt

A classic book series that captivated generations of young readers is turned into a TV program airing for the first time 44 years ago today.

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries premiered on January 30, 1977, on ABC. The popular show lit up television screens from 1977 to 1979. The basis of the series is the popular books. The program follows the young amateur sleuths for three seasons consisting of 46 total episodes.

“The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries” Hits TV Screens

Brothers Frank Hardy and Joe Hardy join Nancy Drew as the trio takes on every form of criminal and villain. Thieves and even Dracula, himself, think they can get away with their crimes. They obviously don’t understand who they’re messing with when the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew are on the case.

Producers Joyce Brotman and Arlene Sidaris combined both the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books for the TV show.

During the first season, Hardy Boys Mysteries and Nancy Drew Mysteries rotated episodes around each other. The next year, Nancy and the Hardy brothers came together to kick some serious butt. This is when the two mystery titles combined becoming The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. However, the title simply became The Hardy Boys in the third season as Nancy’s role was ultimately dropped.

The Stars of the Show

Teen heartthrob Shaun Cassidy, the half-brother to David Cassidy, and Parker Stevenson were cast as the detective Hardy brothers.

Pamela Sue Martin first portrayed Nancy Drew until the role was greatly reduced. Her name was even added to the credits as a guest star although she was a central character. Due to these reasons Martin left the show and was replaced by Janet Louise Johnson.

Although Martin was unhappy with the changes, Shaun Cassidy was more than happy shooting to stardom. Cassidy’s face began appearing on all types of items from lunch boxes to posters.

Cassidy Racks Up While Martin Becomes Fed Up

A 1978 interview with People magazine claims the young star was making $15,000 a week for his role. However, the merchandise sold from the program gained him millions of dollars. The series also helped gain Cassidy the attention needed to make millions as a musician in the late 70s.

“I’m a person who has had a certain success in business, and I’m trying not to make a big deal out of it. People who do not understand that this is a fantasy business get crazy,” he says during the interview.

Parker Stevenson also gains recognition as a Grade-A hottie. He continues to work in the entertainment industry, as well as being a Princeton University graduate.

“We’re so different, yet compatible — and we still are!” says Stevenson regarding his starring role alongside Cassidy. “The show did great, considering the moving time slot, and I think that credit mostly goes to Shaun and his music career.”

Following her time on the show, Martin starred in the soap opera Dynasty. After leaving, she drove around the country in a Volkswagen to “replenish her inner self.”

It appears the former Nancy Drew actress became jaded towards the entertainment industry.

“Having an identity in your 20s that is formed from a TV show can be threatening,” she told People magazine in 1999.

The End of the Series

The ABC show reached three seasons and many fans. However, the series couldn’t compete with the CBS program 60 Minutes which aired during the same time slot. The series was abruptly canceled in January 1979.

Stevenson claims that, years later, an ABC executive at the time said his biggest mistake was cancelling The Hardy Boys.