The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries ran for three years on ABC. The series starred Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as amateur sleuth brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, respectively, and Pamela Sue Martin (later Janet Louise Johnson) as detective Nancy Drew.
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries was unusual in that it often dealt with the characters individually, in an almost anthological style. That is, some episodes featured only the Hardy Boys and others only Nancy Drew.
The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew were both successful book publishing franchises, owned by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a publishing group which owned many successful children's book lines.
The Hardy Boys, Frank and Joe, are brother amateur detectives. The two boys live in the fictional city of Bayport, Massachusetts (a change from the book series, which sets Bayport in the state of New York) with their famous father, Fenton Hardy, a private detective who spent twenty years with the New York Police Department.
In addition to the Hardy Boys, their stories feature two other characters with some regularity: Aunt Gertrude and a platonic female friend of the boys, Callie Shaw, who also does part-time work for their father. The only other character who played a major part of the Hardy Boys books, Chet Morton, appeared only briefly in the series.
Nancy Drew is the amateur sleuth — she prefers the term “part time investigator” — daughter of attorney Carson Drew. She lives with her father, Carson, in the fictional town of River Heights, New Jersey (another change from the book series, which sets River Heights outside of Chicago).
In addition to Nancy Drew and her father, her stories feature two other characters with some regularity: her close friend Georgia (George) Fayne and Ned Nickerson. Another prominent character from the Nancy Drew books, Bess Marvin, made only two appearances in two-part episodes. In the novels on which the series was based, Nickerson is explicitly identified as Nancy's boyfriend. In the television series, their romance is more ambiguous. In the first season, Nickerson is a law student who does part-time work for Carson Drew. In the second season, Nickerson is re-introduced, with no reference to his earlier appearances, in a scene, in which he is apparently introduced to Nancy Drew for the first time, as a young hotshot lawyer from the city District Attorney's office.
The TV show marked the first time that the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew met and worked together as they had never done so in the context of the books at that time (up to that point). In the first episode of the second season (“The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula”) they meet in a hotel room in Europe. The boys, tracking their father, who was working on a case with Nancy Drew. Though the relationship between Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys is mostly platonic, there is a strongly-implied romance between Nancy Drew and Frank Hardy. In one episode (“Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom”) they kiss briefly.
The Hardy Boys
A number of well known actors appeared in episodes of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, either as celebrity guest stars or before they achieved subsequent fame.
Celebrities who appeared in episodes included Ricky Nelson (The Flickering Torch Mystery); Bob Crane (A Haunting We Will Go); Lorne Greene, Trini Lopez and Paul Williams (The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula, where Williams sang the song “Hell of It”, which originally appeared on his 1974 starring film Phantom of the Paradise); Jaclyn Smith, Robert Wagner, Casey Kasem and Dennis Weaver (Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom); Tony Dow (The Creatures Who Came on Sunday); Maureen McCormick (Nancy Drew's Love Match); William Campbell and Missy Gold (Will The Real Santa ...?); Lloyd Bochner and Dorothy Malone (The House on Possessed Hill); Diana Muldaur (Sole Survivor); Ray Milland and Howard Duff (Voodoo Doll); Vic Damone, Fabian and Troy Donahue (Mystery on the Avalanche Express); Jack Jones (Death Surf); Pernell Roberts and Joseph Cotten (Arson and Old Lace); Kevin Tighe “Last Kiss of Summer” Dana Andrews and Patrick Macnee (Assault on the Tower); John Colicos (Search for Atlantis); June Lockhart and Robert Loggia (Dangerous Waters); and Robert Karnes, who guest starred as a sheriff in four episodes: Mystery of the Fallen Angels, A Haunting We Will Go, The Mystery of the Diamond Triangle, and The Mystery of Pirate's Cove (all 1977).
Famous actors who appeared in the series earlier in their career included Jamie Lee Curtis and Robert Englund (The Mystery of the Fallen Angels); Rosalind Chao (The Mystery of the Jade Kwan Yin); Mark Harmon and Martin Kove (The Mystery of the Solid Gold Kicker); Anne Lockhart (The Mystery of the African Safari and The Last Kiss of Summer); Rick Springfield (Will The Real Santa ...?); Nicholas Hammond and John Karlen (The Lady on Thursday at Ten); Melanie Griffith (The House on Possessed Hill); Kim Cattrall and Linda Dano (Voodoo Doll); Valerie Bertinelli, Stepfanie Kramer and Kim Lankford (Campus Terror); and Ana Alicia (Life on the Line).