My sister Jeanne and I danced with the kids on “American Bandstand” and learned the newest dance steps. We watched for the newest fashions and waited to see such notables as Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and even Madonna, all who performed live on the show.
Dick Clark, 82, the host of “American Bandstand,” “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” and “The $25,000 Pyramid,” has died. Clark suffered a heart attack Wednesday morning, a day after being admitted to St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. for an outpatient procedure, said Clark’s spokesman Paul Shefrin.
Clark was a huge part of my life and helped shape my teenage years. Saturday at 1 o’clock was the deadline for all my chores, which had to be done so I could watch “American Bandstand.” This was before VCRs or digital video recorders so if I could not get my work done, I missed the show.
Clark, who began his career in 1945, worked in the mailroom of a Utica, N.Y. radio station. From those humble beginnings he created a media empire that helped make him one of the most influential and wealthy men in America.
In 1956, Clark took over “American Bandstand” and guided this show to become one of TV’s longest running daytime shows. “Bandstand” provided a platform for America’s new love of rock ‘n’ roll. He helped bridge the gap between teenagers and adults, as this new genre of music invaded the homes of America.
Clark was a great defender of pop artists and artistic freedom; he became a pioneer for music because his show included the original R&B artists, instead of the popular trend of white performers doing a cover version.
Clark’s production credits include: the Academy of Country Music, the Golden Globe Awards, TV movies, game shows and many other programs. His holdings also included partial ownership of Swan Records, which released the U.S. version of the Beatles’ smash hit “She Loves You.”
Clark helped to make my New Year’s Eve special. Through his show “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” I was able to be in Times Square to enjoy the unique way New Yorkers celebrated with the dropping of the ball.
Even though he suffered a massive stroke in 2004, which affected his ability to speak, Clark continued to perform his duties as host of “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. He struggled with his speech and turned over the reins to Ryan Seacrest, who became the show’s main host. While Seacrest is a good disc jockey and emcee, he will never replace Clark.
For most of my life Clark provided a great New Year’s Eve party, to which I was always invited. Now I have to find a new party. New Year’s Eve will never be the same without Clark.