May 29, 2013

Parker Stevenson and the Big One

In the fall of 1977, the question most gay boys were asking was: "Shaun or Parker?"

Most chose Shaun Cassidy, the fey, impestuous Joe on The Hardy Boys Mysteries (1977-79), the legendary gay-subtext tv adaption of the Hardy Boys books.

But many chose 25-year old Parker Stevenson (right), who played his older, cautious boyfriend. . .um, I mean brother, Frank.  He was just as dreamy, with brown wavy hair and piercing eyes, and he looked just as good in a Speedo.  Maybe better.

Besides, Parker had already played gay-vague characters twice: Gene, who falls in love with Finney in the boys boarding school drama A Separate Peace (1972); and Chris Randall, who is mentored by the older Rick (Sam Elliott) in Lifeguard (1976).

After Hardy Boys, Parker did the soap opera-softcore porn-thriller of the week thing (Not of This Earth, Are You Lonesome Tonight, Terror Peak, Trapped).  I haven't seen any of them.  His only movie with significant gay interest was Shooting Stars (1983), where he played an actor-turned-detective who buddy-bonds with the gruff Billy Dee Williams.

During the 1990s, he returned to the semi-nude beach shots as an aging lifeguard on Baywatch (1989-99).

In 1991, he came into the spotlight again when his then-wife Kirstie Allie won an Emmy for her work on Cheers.  She thanked Parker for giving her "the big one" for the last eight years.  All of his former fans immediately began scanning old teen idol pin-ups, and going through Baywatch in slow motion, looking for signs of "the big one."

I hadn't noticed anything noteworthy before, but now that she mentioned it....

Parker has been the subject of frequent gay rumors, but he hasn't made any public statements.