See Hardy Boy Parker Stevenson Now at 69
He chalks his successful Hollywood career up to pure luck.
In the late '70s, ABC launched the popular teen mystery series The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. A TV adaptation of the popular books from the '20s and '30s, the show turned its three stars—Shaun Cassidy, Pamela Sue Martin, and Parker Stevenson—into some of the biggest names of that era, especially to young fans. Following the wrap of the show in 1979, Cassidy, who played Joe Hardy, continued his music and acting career, and Martin, who played Nancy Drew, famously joined the cast of Dynasty. Stevenson's career also thrived after his days as amateur detective Frank Hardy, landing him starring roles on high-profile TV shows, including Melrose Place and Baywatch. Read on to see the heartthrob now at 69 and to hear how he keeps up with his fellow cast members.
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Stevenson says he had "no intention" of becoming an actor when he was young.
When Stevenson was five years old, his mother—Sarah Meade, a stage actor—took him to audition for commercials. However, Stevenson has said that it was never his intention to become a star and that he had other ambitions. "I had no interest in acting. None, zip. I was studying architecture [at Princeton University] and I was sure that's what I was going to do," he said in a 2019 interview with Australia's Studio 10. "And then somewhere along the line I did a couple pieces of work—[in particular] one little movie called Lifeguard—and that experience shifted everything," he said. "By the time I graduated I didn't want to do architecture anymore."
In another 2019 interview, with WGN News, he shared that his father was "not pleased" with his decision to give up architecture for acting. "He called me into his office and said, 'I think you've gotten a false sense of the value of the dollar,'" he laughed. Though he says his father remained "wary" of his acting career over the years, he recalls that his mother supported him wholeheartedly from the beginning.
Thankfully it didn't take long for his career to get off the ground. Stevenson was cast as Frank in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries just one year after appearing in Lifeguard. The show lasted for three seasons before wrapping in 1979, leaving the actor poised for a range of other roles.
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He also thinks he just got lucky.
Over the years, Stevenson had no trouble landing high-profile roles thanks to his talent and status as a bonafide '70s heartthrob. However, the actor credits luck for all that. "I grew up with a mother who had access to the industry," he told Studio 10, adding that he also considered it "lucky" that he "physically had a certain look" that lined up with the parts he went after. "I got lucky when I was getting commercials, I got lucky when I got The Hardy Boys. I was the last person to read and there was no particular reason that anybody else couldn't have gotten that part," he said.
He's still acting today—and has another artistic passion too.
Soon after The Hardy Boys ended, Stevenson branched out into other TV projects, ultimately landing recurring roles on the TV series The Love Boat, Falcon Crest, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Melrose Place, Baywatch, and most recently, The Greenhouse Academy. In 1986, he notably appeared in the TV mini-series North & South: Book 2, Love & War alongside his then-wife, Cheers star Kristie Alley. (The couple divorced in 1997.) Stevenson also made several appearances on the silver screen over the years. His film credits include Our Time, Stroker Ace, Stitches, Not of This Earth, Loaded, Perfect Disguise, Mistrust, Last Call in the Dog House, and more.
Today, the actor also takes photographs, which she shares on his website, ShadowWorks. "My favorite photographic subject is pure form, whether it be architectural, landscape, found objects, or an image of a person caught in motion for what it reveals about the energy and spirit of that person," he shared with the travel site Where To This Time in 2015.
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He's still close with many of his old co-stars.
Stevenson shared with WGN News that he remains close with several of his co-stars, including Cassidy, Martin, and Baywatch star David Hasselhoff. "We'll have long periods where we don't stay in touch, but then life brings it back and suddenly I'm seeing them and it's just like it was yesterday," the actor said, adding that he had a "six-hour conversation" at brunch with Hasselhoff shortly before his interview.
He's particularly good friends with Cassidy, his TV brother. "I still see Shaun. We crack each other up. There's something about his sense of humor. It's really dry and it's a humor that I really like—that I'm comfortable with. And I think that's what worked, us fooling around in the backlot. We'd jump on the trams for the studio tour in the middle of the shot," he told Studio 10, sharing that he and Cassidy loved surprising fans by showing up together unexpectedly. "That is what our relationship is—it's loose and warm and fun."
Stevenson also said that he remembers his early career fondly and compared watching old episodes of his shows to flipping through a high school yearbook. "It's been really nice that there are a couple of people that stay in your life," he added.