Dick Clark, “America’s Oldest Teenager,” Dies at Age 82

Dick Clark, Craig Sjodin / ABC

Dick Clark, known primarily as the longtime host of “American Bandstand” as well as his “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” programs has died at the age of 82 following a massive heart attack.

Born in New York in 1929, Clark began his long career in the entertainment industry by working in the mailroom of a radio station WRUN in New York while still in high school.  He soon moved up to the microphone, filling in for people when needed.  He continued to work in radio as a disc jockey in the student run radio station while enrolled at Syracuse University.  Upon graduation he went back to WRUN, but soon left for a spot in Philadelphia at WFIL.

It was while he lived in Philadelphia that he began hosting the then local afternoon “Bandstand” dance show for teenagers.  Within five years, the local program became renamed by ABC as “American Bandstand” when it became a national show.  The program consisted of teenagers dancing to the big hits of the day, as well as appearances by people as varied as Elvis Presley to ABBA, from the Bee Gees to Aerosmith.  The popularity of the show and its host cannot be overlooked when observing popular culture in America.

In 1963 Clark moved the show to Hollywood, and began his own production company, Dick Clark Productions.  This company went on to produce shows such as Pyramid (the game show that he also hosted), So You Think You Can Dance and TV Bloopers & Practical Jokes.  Dick Clark Productions is also the company behind such annual shows as the American Music Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, and the Golden Globes.

Although Clark stopped hosting American Bandstand in 1989, he was still welcomed into homes on December 31st as he hosted his “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” specials from Time Square in New York beginning.  He began hosting the show in 1974, and continued until December 31st, 2004.  On December 6th of that year he was reportedly hospitalized following a minor stroke.  Regis Philbin stepped in since Clark’s health prevented him from hosting as he had planned.  In 2005 Clark was again hosting, however he was joined by a co-host, television personality Ryan Seacrest.  Although Seacrest handled most of the hosting duties, Clark still conducted the traditional New Year’s Eve countdown.  In 2009 the broadcast was renamed Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Even with Ryan Seacrest to reflect Seacrest’s increased hosting responsibilities.

Seacrest released a statement today stating:  “I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dick Clark.  He has truly been one of the greatest influences in my life.  I idolized him from the start, and I was graced early on in my career with his generous advice and counsel.  When I joined his show in 2006, it as a dream come true to work with him every New Year’s Eve for the last 6 years.  He was smart, charming, funny and always a true gentleman.  I learned a great deal from him, and I’ll always be indebted to him for his faith and support of me.  He was a remarkable host and businessman and left a rich legacy to television audiences around the world.  We will all miss him.”

Clark is survived by his third wife, and three children from his previous marriages.

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