Dick Clark remembered as a trailblazer in television

April 19, 2012

Dick Clark, the beloved host of “American Bandstand,” died Wednesday after a heart attack in Santa Monica, Calif. The 82-year-old is most closely associated with the live television show he hosted for more than 30 years, which helped make him one of the “most powerful arbiters of pop-music taste” says Post reporter Becky Krystal:

From 1952 to 1987, Mr. Clark hosted various incarnations of “American Bandstand,” first over the radio in Philadelphia and later on national television. The program was a sensation because of the prominent role it gave teenagers — who were always shown clean-cut in jackets, ties and sweaters — to vote on their favorite song.

Record industry executives paid attention to the young tastemakers, who were not always perfect in their judgment. The teens in 1963 had given the Beatles a thumbs down for “She Loves You” and their mop-top hairdos.

By the show’s 30th anniversary, almost 600,000 teenagers and 10,000 performers had appeared on the program. Among those to make early national appearances included Buddy Holly, James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner, and Simon and Garfunkel. Dance crazes such as the Twist and the Watusi could be traced to the “Bandstand” studio.

Clark’s role in TV and pop culture helped pave the way for others to follow, most notably Ryan Seacrest, who Clark tapped himself to help host the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. Without Clark, there would be no Seacrest, says Lisa de Moraes of TV Column:

Today, we marvel at Seacrest’s ability to host “American Idol” while also launching “the ESPN of pop culture” network with Mark Cuban, anchoring E! News, producing all those Kardashian docu-soaps for E! and the just-renewed “Shahs of Sunset” for Bravo, debuting as the newest member of the NBC “family” (and presumed heir to the “Today” show) at the Summer Olympics in London — all while hosting his daily and weekly syndicated radio shows for Clear Channel.

Seacrest is just taking a page from Dick Clark playbook.

....In 1980 Variety marveled, in a piece on Dick Clark, that “The self-styled ‘voracious appetite’ of Dick Clark for activity has the indie producer moving into every tv daypart.”

Clark opened these doors with a lengthy list of accomplishments in TV, de Moraes says:

His “Bandstand” will forever hold the record as the longest running musical variety show in TV history, unless you think “American Idol’s” going to make it to 37 years, because we know “The Voice” isn’t, and we have our doubts about “The X Factor.”

“Bandstand” started as a local show in Philly” before ABC took it national. Within a few years, Clark had a couple of ABC spinoffs. Years later, he exec produced a ‘60s-set primetime homage to “Bandstand,” about a wide-eyed teen girl who dreams of becoming a ”Bandstsand” regular; in the pilot episode, a young Clark was seen with the very young Beach Boys.

In the ‘60s, when he moved “Bandstand” to Los Angeles, Clark created Dick Clark Productions.

He became the go-to show host, with credits that included “The $10,000 Pyramid” (later, due to inflation, upped to “$100,000 Pyramid”), the “TV Bloopers and Practical Jokes” franchise, and the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. In 2001 he was asked to join the guy-gaggle on a syndicated answer to ABC’s daytime talker, “The View,” joining Mario Lopez and Danny Bonaduce.

Seacrest, who identified Clark as a major influence and mentor in his life, told the press how saddened he was by the loss of the TV legend, the Associated Press reports:

“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 was 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.” 

The president and other celebrities let their sadness be known Wednesday, including Motown founder Berry Gordy:

“I’m saddened and devastated over the loss of my dear friend, Dick Clark. We were friends for over 50 years. My thoughts and condolences go out to his family, especially his wonderful wife, Kari, who took such incredible care of him always. 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. It happened first emotionally. Music can do that. He didn’t do it from a soap box, he just did it. That’s who he was. ‘American Bandstand’ was a platform for all artists. For me personally, he helped bring Motown into living rooms across America. Dick did everything with class, style and integrity. He was a true gentleman. His groundbreaking achievements in music and television ensure that his legacy will live on forever.” 

More on the life of Dick Clark:

The Style Blog : Dick Clark's dance legacy lives on

Ryan Seacrest, others react to Dick Clark's death

The TV Column : Dick Clark dies: A look back at his years on TV

Dick Clark, host of 'American Bandstand,' dies at 82

Dick Clark, television icon, avatar of rock 'n' roll and New Year's Eve mainstay, dies at 82

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