Shaun Cassidy was 18 years old when the TV series 'The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries' first went on air in 1977. "A lot of my friends have gone off to college to pursue careers," he told the press at the time. "I just happen to be lucky enough to be pursuing mine now. I see show business as a business." On reflection in 2005, "Suddenly I'm doing concerts every weekend and on this TV show but it wasn’t, 'Oh my dream has come true – I've become a pop star!' I wanted to be a pop star when I was 13." However "by the time I was 20, it's not a life I wanted to be living."
By 1978, Shaun had sold 6 gold (meaning half a million) and platinum (meaning 1 million) records and 4 million singles. Shirley Jones remembered, "I felt he was going at it too young. He saw (his half-brother) David's giant success and saw all that money rolling in the door and thought: 'I don't need a college education. I can go out and make a million dollars'. And that's what he did."
Shaun had said, "I'd been making $20 a week allowance, and all of a sudden I'm on 'The Hardy Boys' making lots of money." At the time, Shaun recounted, "It helps, and it hurts having well-known parents. The advantage gets you into doors. But people are more anxious to jump on you." Shirley and Jack Cassidy, "They didn't encourage me. For a long, long time, they didn't want it for me."
Shaun's music career took off in Germany before he was out of high school, "In Berlin I played to 30,000 screaming, yelling fans." The European concert tours, "It didn't do much for my grades. It's hard to take algebra seriously when you've just played a concert hall in Berlin. I meet college graduates, and I'm amazed at what I don't know, although I consider this experience an education. I'm enjoying it."
Behind the scenes, "I couldn't leave my hotel rooms for 3 years. All you know is room service. When I was doing 'The Hardy Boys', I'd cut records at night and on Fridays I'd fly to a Saturday night concert in one city and a Sunday matinee in another." By 1980, "I quit my concert tours after last summer (back in 1979). I didn't like being away from home. I suppose I should hit the road this summer (back in 1980) to promote my new album, 'WASP', but to me it's unhealthy, and unrealistic environment. You sit in an inn somewhere as 30,000 people file into a basketball arena to watch you perform while you look at re-runs of 'I Love Lucy.'
"The time from 2:00 to 7:00p.m. is a strange period. You're waiting to go on the show to perform. If you go out, you'll be late getting back. So for 4 hours you sit there watching old 'I Love Lucy' reruns on television and you might get up to shave during a commercial." From Shaun's hotel room, he observed, "There will be 20,000 people out there paying to see me, and I'll be sitting here watching 'I Love Lucy' reruns."
Shaun maintained, "What I've found works best is taking what is really you and enlarging on it for the audience." But "I'm not worthy of mass adulation in my eyes. I'm an actor and a performer and it's great there are people out there willing to watch me. But when I come home at night, I'm myself." Shaun picked up his first gold record in Australia. In 1978, Shaun arrived in Australia to greet fans at a small record shop. Some 10,000 fans turned out. It was reported, "Police had to close off a whole city block and hotels hesitated to house him for fear they'd be ransacked by frenetic fans."
As Shaun turned 20, he told the press, "I'm sorry I didn't go on to college, and I'd still like to, but I think I know enough for what I am doing now, and I like what I am doing very much. I know I need to know a lot more before I am a producer. That's why I like to dabble in everything, even script-writing for the series." He made known, "I was rewriting 'Hardy Boys' episodes – at least my own dialog – which initially tortured some of the producers and writers."
At the time he also recognized, "I could keep on doing soft rock and pop, and milk that for all it's worth, but after a couple of years it wouldn't be worth much. I want my music to continually progress and become more sophisticated . . . My music will never be as hard as Led Zeppelin, but I'm drawn to the kind of things Elton John does. Everybody can appreciate that kind of music." In the episode of 'The Hardy Boys' called, 'The Mystery of the Flying Courier', first went on air in April 1977, the song, 'Da Doo Ron Ron', a remake of the 1963 hit by The Crystals, was featured. Shaun's version topped the music chart.
Shaun returned to acting, in the theater, in 1982. Of acting, he pointed out, "I did it in reverse. My dad and mom started in the theater. I fell into television, and didn’t know anything . . . ('The Hardy Boys') didn't tax my acting ability and I could learn." By 1984, "My singing and TV career has been subsidized by dramatic training lately. For the past 3 years I've been studying and working on stage." In 1987, Shaun played Dusty Walker on the daytime soap opera, 'General Hospital'.
"Ideally I like to work in the theater as a base and occasionally do a movie for television or a Movie of the Week to subsidize my work in the theater," Shaun decided at the time. "If you really want to be an actor, as opposed to being a celebrity, go work in the theater. The first thing I had to do was stop being so visible, stop working on television, so people would forget about me." He took parts in "theater that was less visible because if I was going to fall on my face I didn't want the world out there watching. I was lucky I had made enough money early on to subsidize my stage career because you don't get a lot of money in the theater."
Then, Shaun said in 2005, "I started trying to write. I'd write little one-act plays. I read a lot of scripts and watched a lot of movies, breaking them down scene by scene to see what the structure was, and found that I could do it." Shaun's first screenplay, 'Strays', was bought by the USA network in 1990, "It was the biggest movie of the year and after that I really didn't want to act anymore."
Shaun told Roger Catlin of 'The Hartford Courant' in 2002, "When I was an actor; I was so much more interested in how they were lighting and what was going on in the writers' room . . . I just always wanted to be a writer; I was always writing. I used to write songs when I was a kid. And I would write plays, and I did a lot of theater. As an actor, I got to see the playwrights pretty much run the show. And in television, fortunately for me, the writer runs the show, whereas in the movies, it's the director. So I actually prefer working in television."
The 1995 TV series, 'American Gothic' was described as "an epic battle between good and evil". Shaun told the 'Los Angeles Times', "Much of 'American Gothic' is about that: the duality of nature. The duality of people. I had a very clear picture of this show, and it obviously came from a very organic place, or it wouldn't have written itself as easily as it did. Our template for this show is 'The Godfather'.
"You have Michael or Don Vito Corleone, depending on what movie you're watching as this man who is respected and revered by some people and feared and loathed by others, based on what your experience has been with the man. If you figure someone out like that they’re not going to hold your interest. And I want these characters in this show to have a lot of that depth. The healthiest people I know embrace the light and the dark in themselves. The unhealthiest are the ones who are purporting to be either/or." Executive producer Sam Raimi said of 'American Gothic', "This is really the oldest story, about man vs. the darkest side of himself."