Dick Clark – “World’s Oldest Teenager”

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Richard Augustus Wagstaff Clark, Jr. was born November 30, 1929 in Mount Vernon, New York, The son of Richard Augustus Clark and Julia Fuller Clark. He had an older brother, Bradley, who was killed in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. Clark attended A. B. Davis High School and Syracuse University, graduating in 1951 with a degree in advertising and a minor in radio. As early as ten years old, Richard already knew he wanted to pursue a career in radio.

In 1945, Clark worked in the mail room at WRUN, a radio station in Rome, New York, owned by his uncle and managed by his father. He immediately started taking over for the weatherman and within a few months he was announcing station breaks. While attending Syracuse University, Richard worked for a country music station WOLF-AM, but after graduating he went back to WRUN-AM and announced under the name of Dick Clay. Clark moved to Drexel Hill, PA in 1952, and became a disc jockey at WFIL, adopting the Dick Clark handle. WFIL also had an affiliated television station that broadcasted a show called, Bob Horn’s Bandstand. Although Clark’s main job was a disc jockey, he started substituting for Horn when he was on vacation, and in 1956   Clark became the show’s permanent host. Bandstand was eventually picked up by ABC Television Network, renamed American Bandstand, and made its first nationally televised appearance on August 5, 1957.

American Bandstand soared and by 1958, the show was added to ABC’s Saturday night line-up with an audience exceeding 20 million viewers. In the 60′s, due to the shows popularity, it changed from merely playing records to including live performances. Clark  introduced such talents as Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, Smokey Robinson, Buddy Holly, Chubby Checker and many more. The 26 year old Clark had attributed it mostly to his young looks, which helped him to identify well with the teenagers. He also had a very plausible way of introducing Rock ‘N’ Roll to adults, making the music palatable to parents.

Clark moved the show to Los Angeles in 1964 in order to boost popularity of the new “surf” groups, such as: The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and others. Bandstand ran Monday thru Friday until 1963 and then weekly on Saturday’s until 1987. At the time, American Bandstand was cancelled it had become the longest running variety show in TV history. During its lifetime, Bandstand featured over 10,000 live performances!

In 2002, a 50th anniversary special was held to celebrate American Bandstand and in 2010,  American Bandstand and Dick Clark were honored at the Daytime Emmy AwardsDick Clark was considered BIG”, bigger than the president.

One of the most significant things Clark did while hosting Bandstand, was to end the show’s all white policy by featuring black artists such as Chuck Berry. In time, He also had both black and white artists performing on stage together and studio seating was desegregated. One of the only bands that He could not get to appear on the show was “The Beatles”.

In addition to American Bandstand, Clark branched out into hosting TV game shows, the most popular being ” The $10,000 Pyramid”, which premiered on CBS in March 1973 and won Him three Emmy Awards for best game show host. A few years later the game was moved to ABC and Clark won an additional six more awards.

Clark first produced New Year’s Rockin’ Eve Music Special for NBC in 1972, which featured the coverage of the ball drop in New York’s Times Square. After two years on NBC, the program moved to ABC and Clark assumed hosting duties. By 1977, Rockin’ New Years Eve experienced a surge in popularity and eventually became the most watched New Year Eve’s broadcast. In 2004, Clark had a stroke and he only made minimal appearances on the show.

Clark endeavored in many other radio and TV projects throughout his career. Here are a few:               March 25, 1972 - He hosted American Top 40.                                                                                         In 1981, He created, “The Dick Clark National Music Survey”.                                               He launched his own radio syndication group called, “United Stations Network”, which later merged with “Transtar Network” and eventually became, “Unistar”.                                                 Dick Clark’s longest running radio show began on 2/14/1982 entitled, “Rock and Roll Remembered”.                                                                                                                                                               At the peak of American Bandstand he hosted a 30 minute Saturday night program called, “The Dick Clark Show” a.k.a. The Dick Clark Beech-Nut Show.                                            From September 27 to December 20, 1959, he hosted a weekly talent/variety show called, “Dic’s World of Talent”.                                                                                                                     Clark appeared as a guest star on the final episode of the Perry Mason TV Series, “The Case of the Final Fadeout”.                                                                                                                                  Clark played the owner of a drag strip club on the series “Adam 12″ in 1973.                                   In 1984, he hosted NBC’s “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes”.                                                           In 1985, he hosted ABC’s historic “Live Aid” concert.                                                                               1988 to 1993, Clark hosted various Miss America and Miss Universe Pageants and in 2000 he created and hosted two Fox TV specials called “Challenge of the Child Geniuses” 330px-Dick_Clark_American_Bandstand_1961 (217x290)This was Clark’s last game show that he hosted.

On April 18, 2012, Dick Clark died of a heart attack following surgery to fix an enlarged prostate. His family held no funeral for him and he was cremated on April 20, 2012 and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean. Source: Wikipedia           

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