- 82 years old
- Date of birth: Nov 30, 1929
- Date of passing: Apr 18, 2012
|Let the memory of Dick be with us forever|
Dick Clark (born Richard Augustus Wagstaff Clark, Jr.was an American radio personality and television personality, as well as a cultural icon who remains best known for hosting American television's longest-running variety show, American Bandstand, from 1957 to 1987. He also hosted the game show Pyramid and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, which transmitted Times Square's New Year's Eve celebrations worldwide. He is also best known for his trademark sign-off, "For now, Dick Clark. So long!", accompanied with a military salute.
As host of American Bandstand Clark introduced rock & roll to many Americans. The show gave many new music artists their first exposure to national audiences, including Ike and Tina Turner, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Talking Heads and Simon & Garfunkel. Episodes he hosted were among the first where blacks and whites performed on the same stage and among the first where the live studio audience sat without racial segregation. Singer Paul Anka claimed that Bandstand was responsible for creating a "youth culture." Due to his youthful appearance, Clark was often referred to as "America's oldest teenager".
In his capacity as a businessman, Clark served as Chief Executive Officer of Dick Clark Productions, part of which he sold off in his later years. He also founded the American Bandstand Diner, a restaurant chain modeled after the Hard Rock Cafe. In 1973, he created and produced the annualAmerican Music Awards show, similar to the Grammy Awards.
Clark suffered a massive stroke in December 2004. With speech ability still impaired, Clark returned to his New Year's Rockin' Eve show a year later on December 31, 2005. Subsequently, he appeared at the Emmy Awards on August 27, 2006, and every New Year's Rockin' Eve show through the 2011–2012 show. Clark died on April 18, 2012, after suffering a heart attack following a medical procedure, aged 82.
Clark was born in Mount Vernon, New York, and was also raised in Mount Vernon, the son of Richard Augustus Wagstaff, Sr. and Julia Fuller (néeBarnard) Clark. His only sibling, older brother Bradley, was killed in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II.
Clark attended A.B. Davis High School (later renamed A.B. Davis Middle School) in Mount Vernon, where he was an average student. At age 10, Clark decided to pursue a career in radio. In pursuit of that goal, he attended Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, graduating in 1951 with a degree in advertising and a minor in radio. While at Syracuse, he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Phi Gamma).
In 1945, Clark began his career working in the mailroom at WRUN, an AM radio station in Rome, New York, that was owned by his uncle and managed by his father. Almost immediately, he was asked to fill in for the vacationing weatherman, and within a few months he was announcing station breaks.
While attending Syracuse, Clark worked at WOLF-AM, then a country music station. After graduation, he returned to WRUN for a short time where he went by the name Dick Clay. After that, Clark got a job at the television station WKTV in Utica, New York. His first television-hosting job was onCactus Dick and the Santa Fe Riders, a country-music program. He would later replace Robert Earle (who would later host the GE College Bowl) as a newscaster.
Clark was principal in pro broadcasters operator of 1440 KPRO in Riverside, California, from 1962 to 1982. In the 1960s, he was owner of KGUD AM/FM (later KTYD AM/FM) in Santa Barbara, California.
In 1952, Clark moved to Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, where he took a job as a disc jockey at radio station WFIL, adopting the Dick Clark handle. WFIL had an affiliated television station (now WPVI) with the same call sign which began broadcasting a show called Bob Horn's Bandstand in 1952. Clark was responsible for a similar program on the company's radio station, and served as a regular substitute host when Horn went on vacation. In 1956, Horn was arrested for drunk driving and subsequently dismissed. On July 9, 1956, Clark became the show's permanent host.
Bandstand was picked up by the ABC television network, renamed American Bandstand, and debuted nationally on August 5, 1957 with a Clark interview of Elvis Presley. The show took off, due both to Clark's natural rapport with the live teenage audience and dancing participants and the non-threatening image he projected to television audiences, including many parents being introduced to rock and roll music. According to Hollywood producer Michael Uslan, "he was able to use his unparalleled communication skills to present rock 'n roll in a way that was palatable to parents."
In 1958, The Dick Clark Show was added to ABC's Saturday night line up. By the end of year, viewership exceeded 20 million, and featured artists were "virtually guaranteed" large sales boosts after appearing. In a surprise television tribute to Clark in 1959 on This Is Your Life, host Ralph Edwards called him "America’s youngest starmaker," and estimated the show had an audience of 50 million.
Clark moved the show from Philadelphia to Los Angeles in 1964. The move was related to the popularity of new "surf" groups based in Southern California, including The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean. The show ran daily Monday through Friday until 1963, then weekly on Saturdays until 1987. Bandstand was briefly revived in 1989, with Clark again serving as host. By the time of its cancellation, the show had become longest running variety show in TV history.
In the 1960s, the show's emphasis changed from merely playing records to including live performers. During this period, many of the leading rock groups of the 1960s had their first exposure to nationwide audiences. A few of the many artists introduced were Ike and Tina Turner, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, the Talking Heads, Simon and Garfunkel, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino and Chubby Checker.
During an interview with Clark by Henry Schipper of Rolling Stone magazine in 1990, it was noted that "over two-thirds of the people who've been initiated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had their television debuts on American Bandstand, and the rest of them probably debuted on other shows [they] produced." During the show's lifetime, it featured over 10,000 live performances, many by artists who would have been unable to appear anywhere else on TV, as the variety shows during much of this period were "antirock." Schipper points out that Clark's performers were shocking to general audiences:
The music establishment, and the adults in general, really hated rock and roll. Politicians, ministers, older songwriters and musicians foamed at the mouth. Frank Sinatra reportedly called Elvis Presley a "rancid-smelling aphrodisiac.
Clark was therefore considered to have a negative influence on youth, and was well aware of that impression held by most adults:
I was roundly criticized for being in and around rock and roll music at its inception. It was the devil's music, it would make your teeth fall out and your hair turn blue, whatever the hell. You get through that.
In 2002, many of the groups he introduced appeared at the 50th anniversary special to celebrate American Bandstand. Clark noted during the special that American Bandstand was listed in theGuinness Book of Records as "the longest running variety show in TV history." In 2010, American Bandstand and Clark himself were honored at the Daytime Emmy Awards. Hank Ballard, who wrote "The Twist," described Clark's popularity during the early years of American Bandstand:
The man was big. He was the biggest thing in America at that time. He was bigger than the president!
As a result of Clark's work on Bandstand, journalist Ann Oldenburg states "he deserves credit for doing something bigger than just putting on a show." Los Angeles Times writer, Geoff Boucher, goes further, stating that "with the exception of Elvis Presley, Clark was considered by many to be the person most responsible for the bonfire spread of rock 'n roll across the country in the late 1950s," making Clark a "household name." He became a "primary force in legitimizing rock 'n' roll," adds Uslan. Clark, however, simplified his contribution:
I played records, the kids danced, and America watched.
Shortly after taking over, Clark also ended the show's all-white policy by featuring black artists such as Chuck Berry. In time blacks and whites performed on the same stage and studio seating was desegregated. During the late 1950s and 1960s, Clark produced and hosted a series of concert tours around the success of American Bandstand, which by 1959 had a national audience of 20 million. However, Clark was unable to get the Beatles to appear when they came to America.
The reason for Clark's impact on popular culture was partly explained by Paul Anka, a singer who appeared on the show early in his career: "This was a time when there was no youth culture — he created it. And the impact of the show on people was enormous." In 1990, a few years after the show had been off the air, Clark considered his personal contribution to the music he helped introduce:
My talent is bringing out the best in other talent, organizing people to showcase them and being able to survive the ordeal. I hope someday that somebody will say that in the beginning stages of the birth of the music of the Fifties, though I didn't contribute in terms of creativity, I helped keep it alive.
In 1960, the United States Senate investigated payola, the practice of music-producing companies paying broadcasting companies to favor their product. As a result of Clark's personal investments in music publishing and recording companies, his investments were considered a conflict of interest, and he sold his shares in those companies.
When asked about some of the causes for the hearings, Clark speculated about some of the contributing factors not mentioned by the press:
Politicians . . . did their damnedest to respond to the pressures they were getting from parents and publishing companies and people who were being driven out of business [by rock]. . . . It hit a responsive chord with the electorate, the older people. . . . they full-out hated the music. [But] it stayed alive. It could've been nipped in the bud, because they could've stopped it from being on television and radio.Main article: Pyramid (game show)
In 1963, Clark branched out into hosting game shows, presiding over The Object Is. The show was cancelled in 1964, and replaced by Missing Links, which had moved from NBC. Clark took over as host, replacing Ed McMahon.
Dick Clark as host of The $10,000 Pyramid
Clark became the first host of The $10,000 Pyramid, which premiered on CBS March 26, 1973. The show — a word association game created and produced by daytime television producer Bob Stewart — moved to ABC in 1974. Over the coming years, the top prize changed several times (and with it the name of the show), and several prime time spin-offs were created. Clark continued to host the day time version through most of its history, winning three Emmy Awardsfor best game show host. In total, Pyramid won nine Emmy Awards for best game show during his run, a mark that is eclipsed only by the twelve won by thesyndicated version of Jeopardy!. Clark's final Pyramid hosting gig, The $100,000 Pyramid, ended in 1988.
Clark subsequently returned to Pyramid as a guest in later incarnations. During the premiere of the John Davidson version in 1991, Clark sent a pre-recorded message wishing Davidson well in hosting the show. In 2002, Clark played as a celebrity guest for three days on the Donny Osmond version. Earlier, he was also a guest during the Bill Cullen version of The $25,000 Pyramid which aired simultaneously with Clark's daytime version of the show.
In 1990 and 1991, he hosted the syndicated television game show The Challengers, which only lasted for one season. In 1993, he hosted Scattergories. In 1997, he hosted The Family Channel version of It Takes Two. In 1999, along with Bob Boden, he was one of the executive producers of Fox's TV game show Greed, which ran from November 5, 1999, to July 14, 2000, and was hosted by Chuck Woolery. At the same time, Clark also hosted the Stone-Stanley-created Winning Lines, which ran for six weeks on CBS from January 8, 2000 – February 12, 2000.
In 1972, Clark produced and hosted Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, the first of an ongoing series of specials still broadcast on New Year's Eve. The program has typically consisted oflive remotes of Clark in Times Square in New York City, counting down until the New Year ball comes down. After the ball drops, the focus of the program switches to musical segments taped prior to the show in Hollywood, California. The special is live in the Eastern Time Zone, and it is delayed for the other time zones so that those segments of the audience could ring in the New Year with Clark and can continue to with subsequent hosts when midnight strikes in their area.Clark backstage at the 1990 Grammy Awards
ABC has broadcast the event on every New Year's Eve since 1972 (The first two shows aired on NBC before its move to ABC) except in 1999 when it was preempted for ABC 2000 Today, news coverage of the milestone year hosted by Peter Jennings. However, during that broadcast, Clark, along with ABC News correspondent Jack Ford, announced his signature countdown to the new millennium. He was a correspondent, according to the transcript of the broadcast released by ABC News. Ford had been assigned to Times Square during the broadcast, and thus, Clark's role was limited. Nevertheless, he won a Peabody Award for his coverage.
Clark was unable to host the 2004/05 edition of the show, as he was recovering from his stroke; Regis Philbin substituted as host. Having not been seen in public since his stroke, Clark announced in an August 2005 statement that he would be back in Times Square for the annual tradition, bringing on Hilary Duff andRyan Seacrest as co-hosts. In the same press release, it was announced that Seacrest would eventually take over as the sole host should Clark decide to retire, or be unable to continue. As planned, Clark returned to the show for the 2005/06 countdown, although Ryan Seacrest served as primary host. On air, he stated, "Last year I had a stroke. It left me in bad shape. I had to teach myself how to walk and talk again. It's been a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect but I'm getting there." Before counting down to 2006, he mentioned he "wouldn't have missed this for the world."
Reaction to Clark's appearance was mixed. While some TV critics (including Tom Shales of The Washington Post, in an interview with the CBS Radio Network) felt he was not in good enough shape to do the broadcast, stroke survivors and many of Clark's fans praised him for being a role model for people dealing with post-stroke recovery.
From 2005 to 2012, Clark co-hosted New Year's Rockin Eve with Seacrest, which renamed the program to reflect both hosts for its 2008-09 edition. In the four decades it has been on the air, the show has become a mainstay in U.S. New Year's Eve celebrations. Watching the ball in Times Square drop on Clark's show was considered an annual cultural tradition for the New Year's holiday for the last decades of his life.Radio programs
Clark also had a long stint as a top-40 radio countdown show host. He began in 1963, hosting a radio program called The Dick Clark Radio Show. It was produced by Mars Broadcasting ofStamford. Despite his enormous popularity on American Bandstand, the show was only picked up by a few dozen stations and lasted less than a year.
On March 25, 1972, Clark hosted American Top 40, filling in for Casey Kasem. In 1981, he created The Dick Clark National Music Survey for the Mutual Broadcasting System. The program counted down the Top 30 contemporary hits of the week in direct competition with American Top 40. Clark left Mutual in 1986, and Charlie Tuna took over the National Music Survey.Clark then launched his own radio syndication group; the United Stations Radio Network, or Unistar, and took over the countdown program, "Countdown America". It ran until 1994, when Clark sold Unistar to Westwood One Radio. The following year, Clark started over, building a new version of the USRN and a new countdown show: "The U.S. Music Survey". He served as its host until his 2004 stroke.United Stations Radio Networks continues in operation as of 2012.
Dick Clark's longest running radio show began on February 14, 1982. "Rock, Roll & Remember" was a four hour oldies show named after Clark's 1976 autobiography. The first year, it was hosted by veteran Los Angeles disc jockey Gene Weed. Then in 1983 voice over talent Mark Elliot co-hosted with Clark. By 1985, Clark hosted the entire show. Pam Miller served as producer. Each week, Clark would profile a different artist from the Rock and Roll era. He would also count down the top four songs that week from a certain year in the 1950s, 1960s or early 1970s. The show ended production when Clark suffered his 2004 stroke. However, re-runs from the 1995-2004 era continue to air in syndication and on Clark's website "dickclarkonline.com".
Beginning in 2009, Clark merged elements of "Rock, Roll and Remember" with the syndicated oldies show, "Rewind with Gary Bryan". The new show was called "Dick Clark Presents Rewind with Gary Bryan". Bryan, a Los Angeles radio personality, serves as the main host. Clark contributed profile segments.Other television programs
At the peak of his American Bandstand fame, Clark also hosted a 30-minute Saturday night program called The Dick Clark Show (aka The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show). It aired from February 15, 1958, until September 10, 1960, on the ABC television network. It was broadcast live from the "Little Theater" in New York City and was sponsored by Beech-Nut Gum. It featured the rock and roll stars of the day lip synching their hits, just as on American Bandstand. However, unlike the afternoon Bandstand program which focused on the dance floor with the teenage audience demonstrating the latest dance steps, the audience of The Dick Clark Show (consisting mostly of squealing girls) sat in a traditional theater setting. While some of the musical numbers were presented simply, others were major production numbers. The high point of the show was the unveiling with great fanfare at the end of each program, by Clark, of the top ten records of the coming week. This ritual became so embedded in American culture that it was imitated in many media and contexts, and to this day is satirized nightly by David Letterman.
From September 27 to December 20, 1959, Clark hosted a thirty-minute weekly talent/variety series entitled Dick Clark's World of Talent at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday nights on ABC. A variation of producer Irving Mansfield's earlier CBS series, This Is Show Business (1949–1956), it featured three celebrity panelists, including comedian Jack E. Leonard, judging and offering advice to amateur and semi-professional performers. While this show was not a success, during its nearly three month duration, Clark was one of the few personalities in television history on the air nationwide seven days a week.
One of Clark's most well-known guest appearances was in the final episode of the original Perry Mason TV series ("The Case of the Final Fadeout") in which he was revealed to be the killer in a dramatic courtroom scene.[verification needed] He also appeared as a drag racing strip owner in a 1973 episode of the crime drama series "Adam-12".
Clark attempted to branch into the realm of soul music with the series Soul Unlimited in 1973. The series, hosted by Buster Jones, was a more risqué and controversial imitator of the then-popular series Soul Train and alternated in the Bandstand time slot. The series lasted for only a few episodes. Despite a feud between Clark and Soul Train creator and host Don Cornelius, the two would later collaborate on several specials featuring black artists. Clark hosted the short-lived Dick Clark's LIVE Wednesday in 1978.
In 1984, Clark produced and co-hosted with Ed McMahon the NBC series TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes. The series ran through 1988 and continued in specials hosted by Clark (sometimes joined by another TV personality) into the 21st century, first on NBC, later on ABC, and currently on TBS (the last version re-edited into 15-minute/filler segments airing at about 5 A.M.). Clark and McMahon were longtime Philadelphia acquaintances, and McMahon praised Clark for first bringing him together with future TV partner Johnny Carson when all three worked at ABC in the late 1950s. The "Bloopers" franchise stems from the Clark-hosted (and produced) NBC "Bloopers" specials of the early 1980s, inspired by the books, record albums and appearances of Kermit Schafer, a radio and TV producer who first popularized outtakes of broadcasts. For a period of several years in the 1980s, Clark simultaneously hosted regular programs on the 3 major American television networks: ABC (Bandstand), CBS (Pyramid) and NBC (Bloopers).
From 2001 to 2003, Clark was a co-host of The Other Half with Mario Lopez, Danny Bonaduce and Dorian Gregory, a syndicated daytime talk show intended to be the male equivalent of The View. Clark also produced the television series American Dreams about a Philadelphia family in the early 1960s whose daughter is a regular on American Bandstand. The series ran from 2002 to 2005.Other media appearances
Clark was featured in the 2002 documentary film Bowling for Columbine. He was criticized for hiring poor, unwed mothers to work long hours in his chain of restaurants for little pay. The mother featured is shown to work over 80 hours per week and is still unable to make her rent and then gets evicted which results in her having to have her son stay at his uncle's house. At his uncle's house the boy finds a gun and brings it to school where he shoots another first grader. In the documentary footage featuring Clark, Michael Moore tries to approach him to inform him of the welfare policies that allow for these conditions, and questions him about the people he employs and the tax breaks he takes advantage of, in employing welfare recipients; Clark refuses to answer any of Moore's questions, shutting the car door and driving away.
Clark also appeared in interview segments of another 2002 film, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which was based on the "unauthorized autobiography" of Chuck Barris. (Barris had worked at ABC as a standards-and-practices executive during American Bandstand's run on that network.)
In the 2002 Dharma and Greg episode "Mission: Implausible," Greg is the victim of a college prank, and devises an elaborate plan to retaliate, part of which involves his use of a disguise kit; the first disguise chosen is that of Dick Clark. During a fantasy sequence that portrays the unfolding of the plan, the real Clark plays Greg wearing his disguise.
He also made brief cameos in two episodes of the The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In one episode he plays himself at a Philadelphia diner, and in the other he helps Will Smith's character hostbloopers from past episodes of that sitcom.Post stroke
On August 27, 2006, Clark appeared on NBC's telecast of the 2006 Emmy Awards. He was introduced by Simon Cowell after the show paid tribute to his successful career that had spanned decades. He was shown seated behind a lectern, and although his speech was still slurred, he was able to address the audience and introduce Barry Manilow's performance.
Clark was honored at the 37th Daytime Emmy Awards on CBS TV. It was a tribute to his 40 years hosting American Bandstand.Business ventures See also: Dick Clark Productions
In 1965, Clark branched out from hosting, producing Where The Action Is, a variety show hosted by Paul Revere and the Raiders. In 1973, he produced the American Music Awards Show. In 1987, Dick Clark Productions went public. Clark, remained active in television and movie production into the 1990s.
Clark had a stake in a chain of music-themed restaurants licensed under the names "Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grill", "Dick Clark's AB Grill", "Dick Clark's Bandstand — Food, Spirits & Fun" and "Dick Clark's AB Diner". There are currently three airport locations in Newark, New Jersey;Phoenix, Arizona; and Salt Lake City, Utah, one location in the Molly Pitcher travel plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike in Cranbury, New Jersey, and one location at "Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater" in Branson, Missouri.
"Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater" opened in Branson in April 2006, and nine months later, a new theater and restaurant entitled "Dick Clark's American Bandstand Music Complex" opened near Dolly Parton's Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
From 1979 to 1980, Clark reportedly owned the former scandal-ridden Westchester Premier Theatre in Greenburgh, NY and renamed it the Dick Clark Westchester Theatre. The recently-opened Stop & Shop supermarket now stands at that location.Personal life
Clark was married three times. His first marriage was to Barbara Mallery in 1952; the couple had one son, Richard Augustus Wagstaff III ("R.A.", or "Rac"), and divorced in 1961. He married Loretta Martin in 1962; the couple had two children, Duane and Cindy, and divorced in 1971. His third marriage, in 1977 to Kari Wigton, lasted until his death.Stroke
On December 8, 2004, the then 75-year-old was hospitalized in Los Angeles after suffering what was initially termed a minor stroke. Although expected to be fine, it was later announced that Clark would be unable to host his annual New Year's Rockin' Eve broadcast. Clark returned to the series the following year, but the dysarthria that resulted from the stroke rendered him unable to speak clearly for the remainder of his life.Death
On April 18, 2012, Clark died after suffering a heart attack following surgery to fix an enlarged prostate, a transurethral resection of the prostate, at Saint John's Health Center and the Pacific Urology Institute in Santa Monica, California. Clark's family did not immediately decide on whether there would be a public memorial service, but stated "there will be no funeral". Clark was cremated on April 20, and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.
Following his death, U.S. President Barack Obama praised Clark's career: "With American Bandstand, he introduced decades' worth of viewers to the music of our times. He reshaped the television landscape forever as a creative and innovative producer. And, of course, for 40 years, we welcomed him into our homes to ring in the New Year." Motown founder Berry Gordy and singer Diana Ross spoke of Clark's impact on the recording industry: "Dick was always there for me and Motown, even before there was a Motown. He was an entrepreneur, a visionary and a major force in changing pop culture and ultimately influencing integration," Gordy said. "He presented Motown and the Supremes on tour with the "Caravan of Stars" and on American Bandstand, where I got my start." Ross said.
Ryan Seacrest, who began hosting New Year’s Rockin’ Eve after Clark suffered a stroke, paid tribute to Clark on American Idol, which, along with Game Show Network, broadcast tributes to Clark during the week of April 22-28, 2012. The organizers of New Year's Eve festivities at Times Square (as featured on New Year's Rockin' Eve) also paid tribute to Clark through the incorporation of a Waterford Crystal panel inscribed with his name on the 2013 Times Square Ball
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