We are so sad to see Dick Clark go. He will forever be a legend for his innovation in bringing exposure to rock and roll and soul music. Dick also broke new ground in the areas of Race. Dick Clark, RIP. We salute you.
Richard Wagstaff “Dick” Clark (born November 30, 1929) is an American businessman; game-show host; and radio and television personality. He served as chairman and chief executive officer of Dick Clark Productions, which he has sold part of in recent years. Clark is best known for hosting long-running television shows such as American Bandstand, five versions of the game show Pyramid, and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.
Clark has long been known for his departing catchphrase, “For now, Dick Clark…so long,” delivered with a military salute, and for his youthful appearance, earning the moniker “America’s Oldest Teenager”, until he had a stroke in late 2004. With some speech ability still impaired, Clark returned to his New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show on December 31, 2005/January 1, 2006. Subsequently, he appeared at the Emmy Awards on August 27, 2006, and every New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show since then.
On November 30, 2009, disc jockeys throughout the U.S. paid tribute to Clark on his 80th birthday.
Clark was born in Mount Vernon, New York, where he was raised, the son of Julia Fuller (née Barnard) Clark and Richard Augustus Clark. His only sibling, older brother Bradley, was killed in World War II. His career in show business began in 1945 when he started working in the mailroom of WRUN, a radio station owned by his uncle and managed by his father in Utica, New York. Clark was soon promoted to weatherman and news announcer.
Clark attended A.B. Davis High School which is now A.B. Davis Middle School in Mt.Vernon, New York and Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, and was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Phi Gamma); he graduated in 1951 with a degree in business.
Clark began his television career at station WKTV in Utica and was also subsequently a disc jockey on radio station WOLF in Syracuse. His first television-hosting job was on Cactus Dick and the Santa Fe Riders, a country-music program. He would later replace Robert Earle (who would later host the GE College Bowl) as a newscaster.
In 1952 Clark moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, more specifically to Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, and resided within the Drexelbrook Community where he was neighbors with Ed McMahon. There he took a job as a disc jockey at radio station WFIL. WFIL had an affiliated television station (now WPVI) with the same call sign which began broadcasting a show called Bob Horn’s Bandstand in 1952. Clark was a regular substitute host on the show and when Horn left, Clark became the full-time host on July 9, 1956. The show was picked up by the ABC television network, renamed American Bandstand, and was first aired nationally on August 5, 1957. On that day, Clark interviewed Elvis Presley.
Clark also began investing in the music publishing and recording business in the 1950s. In 1959, the United States Senate opened investigations into “payola”, the practice of music-producing companies paying broadcasting companies to favor their product. Clark was a shareholder in the Jamie-Guyden Distributing Corporation, which nationally distributed Jamie and other non-owned labels. Clark sold his shares back to the corporation when ABC suggested that his participation might be considered as creating a conflict of interest. In 1960, when charges were levied against Clark by the Congressional Payola Investigations, he quietly divested himself of interests and signed an affidavit denying involvement. Clark was not charged with any illegal activities.
Unaffected by the investigation, American Bandstand was a major success, running daily Monday through Friday until 1963, then weekly on Saturdays until 1987. In 1964, the show moved from Philadelphia to Hollywood, California. A spin-off of the program, Where the Action Is, aired from 1965 to 1967, also on ABC. Charlie O’Donnell, a close friend of Clark’s and an up-and-coming fellow Philadelphia disc jockey, was chosen to be the announcer, which he served for ten years. O’Donnell was one of the announcers on the 1980s versions of Clark’s Pyramid game show; he continues to work with Clark on various specials and award shows.
Clark produced American Bandstand for syndicated television and later the USA Network, a cable-and-satellite-television channel, until 1989. Clark also hosted the program in 1987 and 1988; David Hirsch hosted in 1989, its final year. American Bandstand and Dick Clark himself were honored at the 2010 Daytime Emmy Awards.