Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In The News: Dick Clark

For as long as there was man walking the earth, there was Dick Clark, welcoming in a new year. We all knew that one of these years he would welcome, would be his last, we just didn’t know that it was going to be this one. New Years Eve will never be the same again.

This American icon died on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012.

He was born Richard Wagstaff Clark on November 30th, 1929. He was an American game show host, radio and television personality the likes of which we may never see again. Also a great businessman, he served as chairman and chief executive officer of Dick Clark Productions which he sold part of late in his life. Clark was best known for hosting long-running television shows such as American Bandstand, Pyramid and Dick Clark’s Rockin New Years Eve.

Clark was long known for his departing catch-phrase, "For now, Dick long," delivered with a military salute, and for his youthful appearance, earning the moniker, "America's Oldest Teenager."

Dick Clark was born in Bronxville, New York, and was raised in nearby Mount Vernon, the son of Julia Fuller, and Richard Augustus Clark. His only sibling, older brother Bradley, was killed in the second world war. His career in show business began in 1945 when he started working in the mailroom of WRUN, a radio station owned by his uncle and managed by his father in Utica, New York. Clark was soon promoted to weatherman and news announcer.

Clark attended A.B. Davis High School (now A.B. Davis Middle School) in Mount Vernon and Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, and was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Phi Gamma); he graduated in 1951 with a degree in business.

After graduating from high school in 1947, Clark started as an office worker at WRUN-AM in Rome, NY. Almost immediately, he was asked to fill in for the vacationing weatherman, and within a few months he was announcing station breaks. His quick rise may have been helped by the fact that his uncle owned the station and his father managed it.

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. There he took a job as a disc jockey at radio station WFIL The radio station had an affiliated television station (now WPVD) with the same call sign which began broadcasting a show called Bob Horn’s Bandstand in 1952. Clark was a regular substitute host on the show, becoming its primary host in 1956 after Horn's dismissal due to a drunken driving arrest. The show was picked up by the ABC television network, renamed American Bandstand, and was first aired nationally on August 5, 1957. On that day, Clark interviewed the man who would become the king of rock and roll, Elvis Aaron Presley.

The show was credited with introducing numerous artists to national audiences, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, and Chubby Checker. Shortly after taking over, Clark also ended the show's all-white policy, and introduced numerous black artists, such as Chuck Berry. However, Clark was unable to get the Beatles to appear when they came to America. 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. The shows were among the first venues where blacks and whites performed on the same stage, and eventually the seating was likewise desegregated.

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.

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 the Guiness 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.

Clark produced and hosted ‘Dick Clark’s Rockin Eve from 1972 to 2011, missing only two years during that time. The first time in 1999 and again in 2004 when he was recovering from a stroke.

Clark was married three times. His first marriage was to Barbara Mallery in 1952; the couple had one son, Richard, 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.

As a kid growing up in America, as I am sure it is the same for millions more, watching Dick Clark welcome in the new year was one of my favorite things. I remember me and my friends acting all goofy during our sleepovers with the TV on and Dick Clark right there. And just from pure habit, the past few years, (this past one an exception) wherever I was, if there was a TV nearby and on, it was still Dick Clark.

Yep, New Years Eve will definitely never be the same again.


  1. You know, Emaginette, I don't say this about too many people whom I never met - but I will miss him too when New Years Eve rolls around. We're talking 40 years of Dick Clark welcoming in a new year. That's a long time.


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