June 20, 2017 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Filmation’s “The Hardy Boys” on Records

ABC’s answer to the CBS’ Saturday-morning Archies – and the overwhelming success of the manufactured Monkees – was a Filmation series that yield two albums and 24 songs.

The Hardy Boys
RCA Victor Records LSP-4217 (12 33 1/3 RPM / Stereo)

Released in 1969. TV Series Producers: Lou Scheimer, Norm Prescott, Hal Sutherland. Album Producer/Supervisors: Bill Traut, Jim Golden for Dunwich Productions. Engineer: Brian Christian. Technician: Russ Vestuto. Mastering: Randy Kling. Recorded at RCAs Mid-America Recording Center, Chicago. Additional Orchestrations: Bob Schiff, Eddie Higgins. Running Time: 29 minutes.

Songs: Here Come the Hardys (Theme), (I Want You to) Be My Baby, My Little Sweetpea, Love and Let Love by Ed Fournier, Ricky Sheldon; Those Country Girls, One Time in a Million by Ellie Greenwich, Mike Rashkow; Thats That by Gary Loizzo, Frank Meyers; Sink or Swim by Jones/Sheldon; Namby Pamby by Jeffrey Marmelzat, Spencer Proffer; Sha-La-La, Feels So Good by Gary Loizzo.

Everyone connected with Saturday morning television and the recording industry sat up and took notice when almost half the nation watched The Archie Show when it premiered in 1968 and the studio band fronted by Ron Dante as The Archies became a legitimate pop marketplace competitor, with albums and singles flying off the shelves. In sparkling show business tradition, the next task was to find ways to duplicate this astonishing success.

For ABC, Filmation zeroed in on the popular Hardy Boys book series. Created in 1927 by Franklin Stratemeyer, the books were written by a number of authors under the name of Franklin W. Dixon (the Nancy Drew author, Carolyn Keene, was also a pseudonym). Two of the Hardy books had been adapted by Disney for Mickey Mouse Club serials. NBC had also aired an unsuccessful series pilot in 1967.

Filmation and RCA Victor also came up with a solution to The Archies one business setback: since they were animated, they couldn’t tour. When they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, it was a just a clip of animation from an episode. At the time Ron Dante himself was forbidden to reveal his identity as the real-life singing voice of Archie.

In the case of The Hardy Boys mystery-solving gang, which would now include a female (Wanda Kay) and an African-American (Pete), there would be flesh-and-blood counterparts for the animated characters that appeared in live-action music segments in conjunction with the cartoon versions. Problem solved!

Instead of Don Kirshner, Filmation sought out another seasoned group of music makers at Dunwich Productions in Chicago. Dunwich (which got its name from H.P. Lovecrafts The Dunwich Horror, began as a record label and then produced music for groups. The Hardys became one of their clients. The talent was outstanding, with such songwriters as Ellie Greenwich (Da Doo Ron Ron Ron, Christmas – Baby Please Come Home) and the team of Al Kasha and Joel Hirschorn, who wrote the songs for Disney’s Pete’s Dragon and won Oscars for “The Morning After” from The Poseidon Adventure. Others like Ed Fournier and Ricky Sheldon would continue to create material for Filmation, most notably for their Groovie Goolies series.

Greenwich and Rashkow would cringe today (and would remind us that it was indeed a very different time) at these lyrics to one particular song, “Those Country Girls”: I was born in the city / But I been round the world in my time / And if youre looking for a girl whos so pretty, mister / Just drive across the county line / All the heifers there are U.S. Prime.

Other than that, the songs are catchy and entertaining, not at all a bland attempt to rip off the sound of The Archies. They also have a feelgood rock vibe, but its more along the lines of The Lovin Spoonful (Love and Let Love) on this album. The vocals anticipate the Groovie Goolies without the playful creepiness. Theres also a use of strings and brass largely outside The Archies style (with the exception of their last LP, This is Love, which did have some brass work).

The dialogue portions of the television series is vintage Filmation, almost exactly like The Archie Show right down to the casting of Dal McKennon and Jane Webb. There were two mysteries and two song segments per show. According to Mark Connelly in The Hardy Boys Mysteries, 1927-1979: A Cultural and Literary History, The show took note of current concerns; although aimed at a young audience, some plot lines dealt with illegal drugs, and the animated Frank and Joe spoke directly to children about not smoking and the importance of wearing seat belts. With The Hardy Boys, Filmation was setting the groundwork for pro-social messaging that would win them acclaim in the Fat Albert show and continue through the 80s with the He-Man and She-Ra series.


One Time in a Million

This is arguably the best song of the two Hardy albums, good enough to have become a hit, with a superb arrangement, performances and production. It was also recorded by a very young RCA recording artist named Browning Bryant, who was sort of a late 60s Wayne Newton.

The song as it appeared on the TV show:

The Hardy Boys
RCA Victor Records LSP-4217 (12 33 1/3 RPM / Stereo)

Released in 1970. TV Series Producers: Lou Scheimer, Norm Prescott, Hal Sutherland. Album Producer/Supervisors: Bill Traut, Jim Golden, Ellie Greenwich, Mike Rashkow for Dunwich Productions. Engineer: Brian Christian. Recorded at RCAs Mid-America Recording Center, Chicago. Cover Photos: Dick Fegley, Chicago. Additional Orchestrations: Bob Schiff, Eddie Higgins. Running Time: 30 minutes.

Songs: Wheels, Long, Long Way to Nashville, Archie Brown, Baby, This is the Last Time by Ed Fournier, Ricky Sheldon; Old Man Moses Front Porch Rhythm Band by Janis Lee Gwin, Linda Martin; Carnival Time by Jeffrey Marmelzat, Spencer Proffer; Good, Good Lovin, Let the Sun Shine Down, I Hear the Grass Singing by Ellie Greenwich, Mike Rashkow; Love Train by Al Kasha, Joel Hirschorn; Where Would I Be Baby, This is the Last Time by Ed Fournier, Ricky Sheldon.

RCA Victor must have thought The Hardy Boys group had a chance to make a dent on the chart, but neither this nor the debut album were very successful. Wheels is the more derivative of the two, with songs and delivery that suggests artists of the time, or some that were on the way.

“Baby, This is the Last Time” bears a striking resemblance to “I Think Were Alone Now” by Tommy James and the Shondells. Without meaning to of course, the vocal on “I Hear the Grass Singing” sounds very much like David Cassidy. It would have been a great Partridge Family tune.

This is nit-picking for sure. The music is first-rate sunshine rock and artistically, thats all it was meant to be. The main reason Filmations Hardy Boys series didnt catch on is likely to have been the Hanna-Barbera show that premiered the same year on CBS in the same time slot: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?


Love Train

Al Kasha and Joel Hirschorn wrote this only two years before they would walk away with an Academy Award for The Morning After, with a second Oscar in 1974 for “We May Never Love Like This Again” from The Towering Inferno. “Candle on the Water” from Disney’s 1977 Pete’s Dragon earned a nomination but not a win.


  • What stuck in my mind about the show was:
    — The lunatic efforts to get two “serious” mysteries into a half hour, with a song break in each (every mystery seemed to begin with them en route to a concert). They were adapting the actual books.
    — The already dated psychedelia: mod costumes, the “hippie” wagon, the boys’ poster-covered “pad”, and the Smothers Brothers style musical sequences. Also the cool scene change graphics.
    — Every song, if I recollect with accuracy, began and ended in what seemed to be a nightclub with a lighted disco stage. Including one where they were giving a performance in a prison.

    • One thing I noticed about Filmation cartoons was their frequent use of scene-transition graphics (like that paisley display that popped in and out of the screen). Obviously this was an economy measure (hey, it was Filmation), because a dissolve (cross-fade) required pricey film-lab work (or “opticals”) back then.

  • I agree that Dunwich’s songs and music production for the Filmation HARDY BOYS show was actually a pretty good job. But the program itself was mostly dismal, and the stories owed little if anything to the famous Stratemeyer Syndicate books.

    The only time the Hardys have been done justice in terms of adaptation was on The Mickey Mouse Club. I have a little recurring (and revisionist) daydream that after the successful run of “The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure,” on MMC, Disney successfully pitches a HARDY BOYS stand alone series to ABC. The studio then produces (easily and economically) several seasons of the show, with each “Franklin W. Dixon” novel being serialized in three or four episodes. I would have patiently waited each week to watch such a show.

    • Well, there was the live-action series (on ABC) that came along a few years later, with Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as Frank and Joe Hardy (along with a companion Nancy Drew show). It was an hour-long show, having more time to devote to a mystery plot. And it had occasional musical moments, trading on Shaun’s teen-idol status (like his half-brother David on “The Partridge Family”).

  • What a great post! It got me curious about the drummer, and I found an interview he did within the last decade.

    • Wow! What an amazing man and what a life he shared in that story. Thanks for the link.
      There is always so much more to things like this than I could ever have realized.

  • A few corrections:
    -It’s Edward Stratemeyer, not Franklin Stratemeyer.
    -The first Disney serial was based on the first Hardy Boys volume “The Tower Treasure”, the second one was an original story from the Disney studio.
    -the 1967 live action pilot was from Fox, who also commissioned the animated series. It was a work for hire, as far as the Stratemeyer Records at the New York Public Library can attest.
    -The series was canned probably due to a combination of things, the lack of success in records is probably one, but another is that the Stratemeyer Syndicate was not pleased with the results.

    • Plus the fact as with other Saturday Morning Cartoons, the show had just run its course..Which usually happens unless something just becomes a huge hit…

    • Filmation had also done shows based on Fox movies: “Fantastic Voyage” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth”. Also works for hire? Recollect they were one-season shows, but may have stayed longer in reruns.

      Filmation’s history is dominated by outside properties. Even its biggest original show was supposedly tied to salvaging a “Conan the Barbarian” toy line.

  • As a Sunshine Pop addict, calling these efforts “first rate” is generous. There doesn’t seem to be much “bubble gum”-that is, the sexual double entendre that Buddah’s crew excelled in and the Archies shamelessly copied. “Pour a little sugar on me” indeed, in 1969, almost 20 years ahead of Def Leppard and, because of the faux innocence and air-head sounds, much more effective and devious.

  • So… Fox owns this show? [I note the music is published by TCF subsidiary Fox Fanfare Music, but the show seems to be copyrighted by Filmation.] Has this surfaced anywhere in the past forty-odd years? The Syfy channel used to occasionally air the Fox/Filmation JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH and FANTASTIC VOYAGE shows.

    I wonder about the behind-the-scenes details on this one. After the ARCHIE show began to create hits, I can imagine Norm and Lou eagerly looking around for other vehicles in which music and songs could feasibly and profitably be interpolated. Was Fox already working with Filmation to develop a Hardy animated series? It’s certain that given the ambitiousness of this project — with a flesh-and-blood group created to actually tour and promote the show and records — it must have been fairly costly. I don’t admire the program — and I still wish Disney had produced a stand-alone Hardy series with Considine and Kirk (the less said about Universal’s late-’70s show, the better) — but it would be interesting to learn more about its origins.

  • Wasn’t this the first Saturday Morning cartoon series that featured an African-American character, when H-B and other studios didn’t include any not even as incidental characters..

  • Got both of the RCA LP’s. The TV show itself wasn’t all that good, but the music was. “One Time in a Million” was the best of the first LP, and should have been on a 45. “Love Train” was released as a 45 in 1970, but didn’t go much of anywhere. The live band did play a number of shows in 1969-70; all were from the Chicago and Milwaukee areas, and all tracks were recorded at RCA in Chicago. English was recruited from the Chicago Playboy Club, where she was a featured singer/pianist. Taylor and Kaling had been in other bands prior; Kaling later appeared in end-stage versions of the Grass Roots and Badfinger. All were accomplished musicians, though they were clowning around on the show’s opening theme segment.

  • I have Hardy Boy’s 1st LP and I think the album is great! Prior to Norm Prescott creating Filmation Studios with Lou Scheimer and Hal Sutherland, Norm was a national radio DJ whose radio show was heard in many markets across the country. When Filmation launched The Archie Show in 1968, it was Norm Prescott who reached out to Don Kirshner and other music executives who Prescott had prior business relationships from his radio DJ days. Filmation made a 3-series deal with 20th Century Fox that included Journey to the Center of the Earth, Fantastic Voyage and the Hardy Boys. The Hardy Boys’ Pete Jones became the first African American to appear on Saturday morning. My complete Norm Prescott interview can be found in pages of my book, “The Best Saturdays of our Lives.” Thanks for posting!

    • As seen in the Philippines on RPN 9 now CNN Philippines about a group of famous brothers together with his gang became full fledgling detectives battles the forces of evil save the world protect the innocent & keep the peace. Based from the 1970’s Filmation TV series created by Hal Sutherland & Lou Scheimer creators of the popular animated cartoons a true classic television show now in reruns throughout the world. Thanks for the information. From:Wayne

  • I remember the famous brothers became popular rock & roll musicians turned detectives based in Chicago Illinois inspired from the best selling novels created by Frank Stratemeyer in 1927 serialized in comicbooks TV films animation & media. Thanks for the information. From:Wayne

  • Regarding each of the 2 mysteries having a song break, the ‘break’ in the first mystery was the theme song performed by the real band. Each episode had one original song, which was the performance break early in the 2nd mystery. The only series to feature almost 3-minute songs. 17 original episodes shown 6 times over 2 years. 2 songs not on either album : Hello Girl(on YouTube), and What Can I Do (sadly not available).

    • Hi Gera, cCan you provide the title of the episode that featured the song “What Can I Do” ? I would love to hear this. The song “Hello Girl” is supposed to be on the “Wheels” 8 track . But I have never seen one come up for sale. Also, a slightly different version of Hello Girl was released by Reed Kailings group The Destinations a few years before he was one of the Hardy Boys. I was able to find this 45 on eBay.

  • Music and solving crimes that’s the way to do it

  • Wish They Would Have It Out In DVD

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