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. The resulting series proved a 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
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 established
pseudonym for that title. 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 as many parents were 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 original 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, and
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
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 (Kane). Pete received the
distinction of becoming the very first African-American character to be
featured in a Saturday morning cartoon (although his voice actor was white).
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
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. Muir.
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 on a worldwide tour 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
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
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, 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 Harriet
retained all rights to the characters and could produce new material based on
The first book in the current series by Simon & Shuster.