Dick Clark, the longtime television host most recently familiar to viewers as the host of “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve,” has passed away. He was 82.

He was the last link to a bygone era.

Famed New Year’s Eve hosts used to be fewer and farther between. Tom Bergeron? Ryan Seacrest? Guy Lombardo and Ed Sullivan were merely unfamiliar names that your grandparents rattled off. But Dick Clark was there, on your television, in full color. Some things changed. The year. The decade. The millennium. Dick Clark endured.

He was the one fixture in a world of rapid change, host of the same New Year’s countdown show for 33 years. And unlike other last links to bygone eras — vestigial tails, appendices, wall clocks — we were glad to have him.

This news is like learning that Santa Claus has passed.

Without Dick Clark, how will we be able to tell it’s New Year’s?

He will be sorely missed. He was the last thing standing between the world and the total dominance of Ryan Seacrest, whose hard-working smile and exhaustively affable manner have made him, now, America’s Host. But Dick Clark did it first, and he did it better.

Nothing said, “The world is unlikely to end this year,” like Dick Clark. He conveyed a fundamental stability. Tides might rise. Computers might go haywire and start rampaging through the streets, killing our firstborn, as everyone around Y2K predicted. But as long as Dick Clark was there to welcome the new year and kiss his wife, you knew you were all right.

New Year’s Eve won’t be the same without him.