Best Known For
Parker Stevenson is best known for his role as Frank Hardy in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.
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"Suddenly all the (publicity) machinery was cranking up: the lunch boxes, posters, T-shirts," he remembered. "And there was this teen-age audience that got locked into the show… Being stared at was so uncomfortable. I couldn't go to the beach, I couldn't go to McDonald's. There were girls always hanging around my trailer. Now when people compliment me, it's flattering. Before it wasn't; I felt you could've taken any two kids,
stuck them in the show and cranked out the same effect." Stevenson worried that the show would typecast him as a clean-cut teen idol to the detriment of his future career. "I had reservations about being in the series even before I did it," he said later. "I felt I would have to fight my way out of it… After the series ended all I got was calls for Hardy Boys kind of stuff."
After the Hardy Boys went off the air in 1979, Stevenson initially struggled to find other roles, especially since he refused to accept offers for parts that cast him as another preppy teenager. In 1981, he played a rock star who has a nervous breakdown in the TV movie This House Possessed. In 1983, Burt Reynolds cast Stevenson as the villainous Aubrey James in the popular racing flick Stroker Ace. "Frank Hardy is dead!" Stevenson commented gleefully in an interview at the time. "It took me three years to overcome that image."
Since redefining himself with that role, Stevenson has gone on to television roles that have allowed him to play a wide variety of characters. After landing recurring roles on The Love Boat (1983) and Falcon Crest (1984-1985), in 1986 he acted in North and South: Book II, an acclaimed miniseries set during the American Civil War. In 1988, Stevenson again struck out into decidedly different territory to play an eccentric scientific genius and crime investigator on the TV series Probe. The show won rave reviews but struggled to find a mass audience and was cancelled after one season.
In 1989, Stevenson landed the role of Craig Pomeroy—an attorney who (somewhat improbably) doubles as a lifeguard—in the inaugural season of the hit show Baywatch. Although he left the cast after that first season, Stevenson occasionally directed episodes of Baywatch, and his character was revived nearly a decade later for the 1998-1999 season. Apart from Baywatch, Stevenson's career during the 1990s consisted primarily of starring roles in made-for-TV movies. They included All the Rivers Run 2 (1990), Are You Lonesome Tonight (1992), Shadow of a Stranger (1992) and Official Denial (1994). Since then, Stevenson has continued to act but with lesser frequency. He appeared in the TV movies Trapped (2001) and Terror Park (2003) as well as episodes of Judging Amy (2002) and The District (2002). He acted in the 2008 film Loaded and most recently appeared in a 2010 episode of Legend of the Seeker.
Stevenson married actress Kirstie Alley in 1983, and they remained married for 14 years before eventually divorcing in 1997.
Although he remains best remembered for his role as Frank Hardy, Parker Stevenson successfully shed his prep school image to go on to played a variety of roles with equal skill—from a villainous NASCAR driver and a Civil War soldier to a scientific genius and a lifeguard-slash-attorney. The turning point in Stevenson's career came shortly after the conclusion of the Hardy Boys in 1979, when he turned down teen idol roles and staked his career on redefining himself as an actor. "The person who helped break [the pattern] was Burt Reynolds," Stevenson recalled. "He said, 'You're an actor. You can do this.' And it was the beginning of playing characters who were different."
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