The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew were both stars of their own series of popular children’s books, each of which had almost fifty years of sleuthing under their belts by the time ABC decided to televise their adventures in 1977. The result was The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries, a show that appealed to any youngster with an interest in private investigation, or any teen who simply happened to have a crush on one of the teenage stars.
Debuting on ABC in 1979, Frank and Joe Hardy were played by teen actors Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy (half-brother of Partridge Family hunk, David.) Pamela Sue Martin played Nancy throughout the first season and most of the second, with Janet Louise Johnson taking over the role at the end of the second season.
Joe and Frank Hardy were chips off the old block, following in the footsteps of their father, internationally recognized investigator Fenton Hardy. With some assistance from their Aunt Gertrude, as well as their assistant Callie, the two teens regularly investigated cases involving everything from the supernatural to such worldly adversaries as kidnappers, thieves and smugglers.
Likewise, Nancy Drew had similar roots as the daughter of respected criminal attorney, Carson Drew. Always ready to assist in her investigations were Ned, who frequently assisted her father, and a loyal and skittish best friend George Fayne. Like the Hardy Boys, Nancy investigated various evildoers, as well as the occasional ghostly encounter.
Producers took significant measures to ensure that these decades-old characters had current appeal, keeping them dressed in the latest fashions using modern settings like rock concerts to reflect the times. For extra appeal, Shaun Cassidy even launched a singing career to coincide with the series, providing the perfect outlet for him to perform his latest single on the show, “Da Doo Run Run.” Thanks to this crossover exposure, the song climbed to #1 on the pop charts.
In the first season, producers kept Nancy and the boys completely separated, as if the show were actually two series in one. In the second season, however, it was decided to let the characters co-mingle on occasion, a move that didn’t sit well with Pamela Sue Martin. As a result, she left the series and was replaced in the final four episodes. When the show returned for its third and final season, it was renamed The Hardy Boys Mysteries, with Nancy nowhere to be found. Instead, the Hardy Boys got some new cohorts in the form of CIA agent Harry Hammond and Federal Investigator Harry Gibbons.
An attempt was made to revive the series in 1995, with an all-new cast, called simply The Hardy Boys, which also marginally included the Nancy Drew character. Unfortunately, the series only lasted for 13 episodes, even with a pair of updated 90s teens in the title roles. The show’s new stars just couldn’t compete with the originals, who once managed to get their mugs plastered on seemingly every teenage girl’s bedroom walls in the country, ensuring their place as the most fondly remembered teen sleuths since Scooby Doo and pals.
If you were a regular watcher of The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries growing up, and/or if you happened to have a few posters of the stars hanging from your bedroom wall, we invite you to share your fond memories in our comments section, as we pay tribute to this beloved trio of crime-stoppers that entertained us in the 70s.