With Nancy Drew's latest adventures headed to DVD, discover how much you know about our greatest teenage crime-scene investigator.
Nancy Drew is a pretty ordinary teenager, except that in her spare time she solves crimes. That means she's been threatened, tied up, knocked unconscious, poisoned with gas, pursued by a ferocious canine, and attacked by an erratic robot - among other things. So it makes sense that Emma Roberts was cast as the tremendously talented teenage sleuth in Nancy Drew, a modern, big-screen adaptation that is now out on DVD. After all, who's more "ordinary" than the look-alike niece of America's sweetheart, Julia Roberts? To prepare you for the DVD's release, we share six things you don't know about Nancy Drew.
1. The new Nancy Drew and the old Nancy Drew have plenty in common.
Though Nancy Drew has popped up on TV in recent years, the last time the character headlined her own feature flim was in the 1930s. Back then, an actress named Bonita Granville starred in a series of Nancy Drew movies. Like Emma Roberts, whose dad is actor Eric Roberts, Bonita Granville was the daughter of a film actor - Bernard "Bunny" Granville. And also like Emma Roberts, who made her big-screen debut at age nine, Bonita Granville made her first film at age nine. Both were in pretty good company. Roberts starred with Johnny Depp in Blow, and Granville was in Westward Passage with Laurence Olivier.
2. There is one case that even Nancy Drew can't solve: the case of the missing creator.
Nancy Drew's author, Carolyn Keene, was not quite J.K. Rowling, but she was plenty popular back in her day. Keene received and answered a plethora of fan mail, according to Melanie Rehak, author of Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her. Rehak also says Keene was so well known that she was asked to join the Authors Guild and was listed by Who's Who in America. Thing is, she wasn't real. The original installments in the Nancy Drew book series were written and edited by various employees of the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Most of the books were penned by Mildred Wirt Benson and Harriet Stratemeyer, the daughter of the syndicate's founder, Edward Stratemeyer. But the two battled over who should get credit for Nancy's development. "Both Harriet and Mildred each honestly felt that she had made the character the success that she was,"Rehak says. "They had a long-standing disagreement, which their families have continued through the present day, about who was really responsible for the creation of this character."
3. Nancy Drew's real creator did not have a daughter who dated Indiana Jones.
Because, you see, Indiana Jones is not real. In an episode of the TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, young Indy visited Thomas Edison's lab with his girlfriend - Nancy Stratemeyer. "People always said that she was one of Edward Stratemeyer's daughters or one of his daughter's daughters," Rehak says. "But she was not real." So, you had a fictional character dating the fictitious daughter of the real-life creator of a fictional character. Go figure.
4. She's not Nancy Drew everywhere.
The original proposal for Nancy Drew conjured up a series of generally alliterative appellations for her: Stella Strong, Helen Hale, and Diana Dare, among them. Thankfully, her creators abandoned those names. But overseas, Nancy isn't Nancy. In France, she's Alice Roy. In Finland, Paula Drew, and in Sweden, Kitty Drew. In Germany, Susanne Langen. Russia comes the closest: There, she's Nensi Dru.
5. TV cut into Nancy's word count.
The original printings of the first 34 Nancy Drew books were each 25 chapters long. Later printings, toward the end of the 1950s, had only 20 chapters. "That started because television had really come up as a competitor to these books," Rehak says. "They were trying to gear them toward the shortened attention span of kids." The revisions varied dramatically from book to book. "Some were rewritten to take out politically incorrect things and dated language. Some of them had their entire plots rewritten, and other books just had small things changed or cut down." Not surprisingly, these days the early printings can fetch a generous sum on eBay.
6. She had girl power before it was cool.
Nancy Drew "was pioneering when the books started coming out in the '30s," Rehak says. "For a lot of women who grew up in the '40s and '50s, she was the only female character they had to show them that they could get what they wanted and be smart and have adventures."
Can you tell the real Nancy Drew titles from the ones we made up?
1. The Secret of the Looking Glass
2. The Secret at Shadow Ranch
3. The Mystery of Crocodile Island
4. The Mystery of the Locke
5. The Sign of the Twisted Candles
6. The Sign of the Black Smoke
7. The Clue of the Countdown Timer
8. The Clue of the Dancing Puppet
Nancy Drew books: 2, 3, 5, 8
Things we made up, using stuff from ABC’s Lost:
1. The Looking Glass is the underwater jamming station where Charlie died
4. As in John Locke
6. The monster in the jungle is made of black smoke — or something
7. The countdown timer was inside the hatch