Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
Frank and Joe Hardy
were brothers living in the city of Bayport on Barmet Bay. More than that, they
were amateur detectives with a penchant for getting involved in one mystery
after another. They lived with their father, police detective Fenton Hardy,
their mother Laura, and their Aunt Gertrude.
A first edition of The Rover Boys.
there was a large untapped market for children’s books, Edward Stratemeyer began to
create books to fill that void with purely entertaining stories rather than the
moral instruction dominating that market. He first created the Rover Boysunder the pseudonym
Arthur M. Winfield, which was a roaring success selling five million copies
over 30 volumes from 1899-1926. In 1904, he began writing The Bobbsey Twinsas Laura Lee Hope and Tom Swiftin 1910 as Victor Appleton. In 1906,
Stratemeyer founded of the book-packaging firm The Stratemeyer Syndicate, realizing that he
could produce more books a year through different publishers under different
pseudonyms under his control as books with his real name on it failed to sell
as well. After a time, Stratemeyer could no longer juggle multiple series and
decided to hire ghostwriters to take over some of the books under the
corresponding pseudonym. In 1911, Stratemeyer developed a talent for writing
mysteries, published under the name Chester K. Steele.
The very first edition of The Hardy Boys.
1926, the Syndicate began focusing on mysteries geared towards its younger base
when Stratemeyer created The Hardy
Boys. He pitched the
series to publisher Grosset & Dunlap, who had come up
with the name for the series. Under Stratemeyer’s model, the books were created by making a detailed outline of the
plot, which was then given to a ghostwriter to flesh out under the pseudonym
Franklin W. Dixon, edited in-house, and then released. Stratemeyer and his
daughter Edna had a hand in developing some of the early outlines for the
series, while his other daughter, Harriet, took over the duties in 1934
with Andrew Svenson. Other outliners
included Vincent Buranelli, James Duncan
Lawrence and Tom Mulvey. A large part of the early foundation
came from the series’ first writer, Leslie McFarlane, who penned 19
volumes before eventually allowing himself to quit a series and working
conditions he despised (aside from the strict anonymity of its authorship, the
Syndicate had stringent rules to be followed for each book and vastly underpaid
for the amount of work being done).
The 1959 revision of the first book.
In 1959, the series
underwent an extensive revision in content, prompted by Harriet, now the sole
company head, and Grosset & Dunlap. Harriet wanted to modernize the stories
to bring them up to contemporary times as well as simplify the writing style to
appeal to a younger audience. Grosset & Dunlap also wanted racial slurs and
stereotypes removed amidst many parents complaining about the content of the
books they published. Slumping sales also contributed to this decision. However,
instead of fixing any minority characters, the cast of the books was completely
whitewashed until the 1970s. While a number of the original stories were
maintained and modified, several plots were entirely rewritten from scratch to
become virtually new stories with the same titles. A greater emphasis was
placed on fast-paced action rather than mood building.
Animation cels from Filmation's series.
with these story changes, the characters themselves underwent some revisions.
Many of McFarlane’s stories featured Hardy Boys who were skeptical of authority
figures, including law enforcement, as a means to convey that those in charge
were sometimes not above board. The Hardys also received compensation sometimes
for their sleuthing, which went towards their college educations. Their
devotion to their Aunt Gertrude stemmed from the fact she was rich. With the
revisions, the Hardys were entirely respectful of authority to the point that
they wouldn’t go beyond the speed limit even to chase down a villain. Villains
no longer smoked or drank, nor possessed many of their unique character quirks
(Pedro Vincenzo, for example, branded his victims in the original 1934 text of The
Mark on the Door, but not in revised editions), and often surrendered in lieu
of the shoot-outs that dominated the original stories.
1956, Disney contracted
the production of two serials that aired during The
Mickey Mouse Club. Starring younger versions of the Hardys to appeal to the
show’s audience, The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure was based on the series' first book The Tower
Treasure. The Mystery
of the Ghost Farmwas an original story by screenwriter Jackson Gillis. After the
Syndicate conducted a survey to determine why sales were falling on the series,
they discovered a large factor was due to the high cost of the books and
competition from television. The Syndicate quickly approved an hour-long pilot
based on the book The
Mystery of the Chinese Junkwith the Hardys portrayed as young adults. It aired on CBS, but the show was
never picked up due to the pilot’s poor ratings.
The animated band: Frank, Pete, Wanda, Chubby and Joe.
more fully-realized attempt came in 1969 when Filmation acquired the
rights to the franchise. Having struck a major hit with The Archie Show the year before on both television and the radio, Filmation
sought to duplicate that success with the Hardys. As a result, Filmation took
some liberties with the source material. Gone were the clean-cut teens as
described in the books; instead Frank (Dallas McKennon) and Joe (Byron Kane)
were given long hair and the latest mod styling to complement their new
vocation as members of a band. Fellow band mate and friend Chubby Morton
(McKennon) was a play on their friend from the books Chet Morton. Wanda Kay Breckenridge
(Jane Webb) was the only female member of the band and loosely based on Callie
Shaw, Frank’s girlfriend from the books. Created exclusively for the cartoon
was Pete Jones (McKennon). Pete received the distinction of becoming the very
first African-American character to be featured in a Saturday morning cartoon.
The live-action band: English, Soltysiak, Taylor, Kailing and Crowder.
Once the characters’ looks
and designs were set, Filmation set out to cast a real-life version of the
band. While the The Archie Show’s band recorded
behind the scenes, this time around they wanted the band to be front and center
on the show, the albums, on tour to various
venues and promotional work. A nation-wide talent search was held and
ultimately Jeff Taylor was selected for Joe, Reed Kailing for Frank (both of
whom knew each other from high school), Norbet “Nibs” Soltysiak for Chubby,
Deven English for Wanda (who eventually dated Taylor for several years) and Bob
Crowder for Pete. Primarily identified as their characters, the real band would
open and close the show, performing the series’ theme “Here Come the Hardys.”
They also stood in for the animated characters’ voices whenever a song was
played during the show. Although primarily the Hardys and Pete were featured on
guitars with Chubby on drums (which were played by Pete in the live segments)
Chubby would sometimes be seen with different instruments during one of their
musical interludes. The live band introduced the cartoon to audiences in ABC’s Saturday morning
preview prime time special hosted by characters from The Ghost and Mrs.
The Corgi Toys die-cast version of the band's not-quite-Silver Ghost.
The Hardy Boys
premiered on September 6, 1969 and became the first action-adventure mystery
show on Saturday mornings. It also became the first to deal with the concept of
drugs and provided public service announcements to its audience, such as not
smoking and wearing seat belts. The band traveled around in a brightly-colored Rolls Royce Silver Ghost and often
ended up being caught up in a mystery, leading to confrontations with the
culprits. To combat the growing concerns of violence on television, all of the
fighting was done off-camera. Characters would be tackled and tumble off
screen, sounds of fighting would be heard, and then the camera would pan over
to the victor. Any of the conflict shown on screen would be done through
comedic methods, such as Chubby clumsily knocking their foes over while giving
chase. Filmation used the various Hardy Boys books for episode plots, but their adherence to the books
varied between episodes; some being near adaptations while others bore only a
passing connection to the story for which the episode was named. Episodes
included two different story segments and at least one musical number. The
series was written by Eric Blair, H.F. Mauberly, David Melmuth
and Ken Sobol,
and Ray Ellis (under his son’s
name, Marc) provided the rest of the show’s music.
Here Come the Hardy Boys album cover.
Albums featuring the music
from the series were released by RCA Records. Here
Come the Hardy Boyswas released in 1969, while Wheels/The
Hardy Boys came out the following year. Each album had eleven
songs, six of which were released between three 45rpm records as singles and
B-sides. Although the songs “Wheels” and “Love Train” made the American Bandstand pop charts,
the albums were difficult to find and little interest shown in them despite the
popularity of the band. The show itself failed to perform any better,
especially being shown against CBS’s brand-new Scooby-Dooseries, and no new
episodes were commissioned after the first season, although a second season of
reruns did air. The band lasted a bit longer than the program, but eventually
the idea was abandoned and the members, who all had different musical interests
other than what they were playing at the time, went their separate ways.
The Hardy Boys board game by Milton Bradley.
its short run, the animated series did spawn its own share of merchandise
besides the albums. In 1969, Milton Bradley produced a
board game while Corgi Toys produced a
die-cast model of their car with miniature figures of the characters.
Collegeville produced a line of vinyl Halloween costumes based on the show’s
characters. In 1970, Filmation created a Hardy Boys Fan Club to which
members could join and receive a kit of premiums: a membership card, small
black and white photos of the band members which were also featured on a set of
stamps, a newsletter with photos and bios o the band members, and a 45rpm
record of the band members talking about themselves. Between 1969 and 1970, View-Master produced a 16
page story booklet and three reels called “The Mystery of the
Caves,” along with a special single reel preview. Sheet music for “Wheels”
and “Love and Let Love” were released through Fox Fanfare Music. Between 1970 and
1971, Gold Key Comics produced a four-issue series that used
both the animated characters and live band members on their covers.
wasn’t ready to give up on the Hardys yet, as in 1977 they produced a
live-action series, The Hardy Boys Mysteries, which alternated airings with another Syndicate series, The Nancy Drew Mysteries. That series ran for three seasons, although the Nancy portion would
eventually be dropped. Another attempt at the Hardys was made in 1995, but that show only
lasted a single season of 13 episodes.
The 1970s revised edition of the first book.
As for the books themselves, early 1970s revisions
featured the Hardys as members of a band they formed, something that had not
been previously established in the series until then. In 1980, Harriet Adams,
dissatisfied with the lack of creative control or recognition for the Hardys’
50th Anniversary with Grosset & Dunlap, switched over to Simon and Schuster for further publications. A legal battle over that move resulted
in Grosset & Dunlap being awarded the rights to the original books as they
were in print in 1980, but Adams retained all rights to the characters and
could produce new material based on them.
The first book in the current series by Simon & Shuster.