Growing up in the shadow of his brother David, Shaun Cassidy began singing at the age of fourteen, but no one took him seriously until, at eighteen, he landed a role as cleancut teen sleuth Joe Hardy in The Hardy Boys Mysteries (1977-79), alongside Parker Stevenson’s Frank. The plots were simple: sleuthing, a touch of danger, followed by jokes and dazzling smiles, with ample swimsuit and shirtless scenes and the camera lingering lovingly on the teenage bodies. Endless teen magazine pin-up spreads followed.
Joe was frequently thrust into peril, tied up in old barns, menaced by madmen, in need of rescuing and subsequent hugging by his older brother or some other hunk. In a two-parter, wealthy rescuer Jocco Halsey (Kevin Brophy), invites Joe to move in with him.
And Joe rarely expressed any interest in girls. In “Campus Terror” (May 1978), guest star Valerie Bertinelli says “I love you,” and Joe responds dryly: "You've had a long day.” What gay boy could afford to miss such a revelation?
Unlike many Tiger Beat fave raves, Shaun actually had a brief singing career; between 1977 and 1979, his albums went platinum, and his singles topped the charts. A surprising number of his songs were gender-ambiguous, and "You're Using Me" even alluded to a relationship with a boy.
The cover of the album Room Service (1979) shows Shaun in a hotel room, smiling invitingly at the voyeur who peers through the Venetian blinds. The voyeur's gender is ambiguous. Shaun is openly acknowledging the romantic interest of both male and female teens.
his brothers David, Patrick, and Ryan) remains a gay ally.