This past Saturday, I was able to check one more item off my teenage wishlist; I got to meet Parker Stevenson. For those of you from a different generation, Parker Stevenson was Frank Hardy on The Hardy Boys TV series of the late 70’s. After that, he appeared in Baywatch and a bunch of other TV shows and movies.
Back in the day, I owned everything Hardy Boys. I had the posters on my walls, the shirts in my closet, the toys on my shelves and I had all of Shaun Cassidy’s records memorized. The Hardy Boys was also the show that had me imagining myself on a set one day working ever so closely with the boys.
In the middle of my Hardy Boys obsession, I moved in with an aging film star and talent agent in New York. She mostly kept to herself, but one day she ventured into my room, saw the poster and swore that she knew Parker. She told me this elaborate story about how she’d been friends with his mother and had given him advice early in his career. Nice young man, she said while sipping her wine. My brain knew that it was an unlikely coincidence but my heart desperately wanted to believe. I went through the next few months hoping that she’d call up her old friend and invite her and her famous son over for lunch. Imagine, me having lunch with Parker Stevenson! Wouldn’t that be a story to tell.
Parker never showed up and my landlady never mentioned him again.
But, as usual, I digress. . .
I rarely attend the frequently run Hollywood Show, but we made plans to go to this one because the main attraction was a Lost in Space cast reunion. We already had tickets for the event when I found out that Parker would also be attending. I’ve been to dozens of autograph shows but he and I never appeared at the same show at the same time; until now.
As soon as I spotted him, I started scoping out his table. He talked with a woman for quite awhile, and then a man came up with a Baywatch jacket for him to sign. Then it was my turn. I’ve interviewed hundreds of TV and movie stars but I still get stupid when I meet my teenage crushes.
“Hi, I’m Cynthia and like everybody else, I’m going to say that same thing. I’m a big fan. I’ve seen everything you’ve done from Hardy Boys through Baywatch, everything.” He shook my hand, smiled big then said to my husband, “I’ll be she says that to everyone she meets.”
“No, only special people like you,” my husband replied. Then he was kind enough not to give any details about my Hardy Boys obsession. Hoping to come up with something different to discuss, I mentioned his short-lived scifi series Probe.
Parker said it was his favorite show and that he was so sorry that it had been canceled after only a few episodes. He talked about the episode that featured the orangutan. He said that she was always eyeing everyone between takes as if she was planing her escape. He went on to say that orangutans are only trainable up to a certain age and after that they get unmanageable and dangerous. This one was nearing that age and he had quite a time working with her.
The part of me that loves to make conversation then took over the conversation and suddenly I was telling him a story about how I used to work for an animal training company and then I was blabbering on about my own humorous experience with a sharp orangutan. Then I went really off the rails and starting talking about how I had met Shaun Cassidy a few years back so now I had both Hardy Boys covered. Bookends! Yikes!
He kindly brought the conversation back around to the business at hand by pointing out the one photo from Probe that he had on his table. Which led to my almost incomprehensible comment about how that photo confused me because it made the show look historical when it wasn’t. Huh? He said that production did have a tendency to keep him in highly buttoned up shirts as part of the character. (I realized after the fact that what I was trying to say was that he looks Amish in this photo.)
I liked the photo but felt I had to pay homage to my childhood dreams, so I picked a Frank Hardy photo for him to sign. Then he came around the table and posed for a photo. He even encouraged my husband to take another, closer shot, which turned out to be the better of the two.
And that was that. Thanks, goodbye and it was over. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. Not that I expected him to be mean or anything, but some actors are very stiff when you meet them at these shows. They repeat the same stories they’ve told a thousand times and offer fake smiles. Understandable given the circumstances, but Parker was very relaxed and the conversation felt real and he seemed quite happy to make an aging, chubby fan girl’s dream come true.
Parker, if by some chance you’re reading this, thanks for the memory. I’m sorry we never got to have lunch together in New York or work together in Hollywood, but it was so nice spending five minutes last Saturday with you.