Remembering Dick Clark: 8 video highlights
The American Bandstand host, pioneering TV producer, and "World's Oldest Teenager" died Wednesday at age 82. A look back at his life in front of the camera
Dick Clark, the television icon and entertainment industry pioneer, died Wednesday at age 82. A prolific host and TV producer, Clark is best remembered for his work on American Bandstand, the Pyramid game shows, and the annual New Year's Rockin' Eve special — not to mention an eternally youthful look that earned him the nickname "The World's Oldest Teenager." Clark "stood as an avatar of rock 'and roll virtually from its birth," says Lynn Elber of the Associated Press, "as a cultural touchstone for boomers and their grandkids alike." Here, a look back at his life, as it played out in front of the camera:
1. 1958: Breaking into the bizSoon after his 1947 high school graduation, Clark started working his way up in the radio industry, getting his start in the mailroom of a New York AM radio station, and eventually rising to become the substitute weatherman and ad announcer. While he was a student at Syracuse University, he began hosting his own show. By the time he landed ABC's The Dick Clark Show in 1958, he already boasted more than 10 years of broadcast experience. His eponymous show ran for 136 episodes. Here, a young Clark promotes show sponsor, Beechnut Gum:
2. 1959: This Is Your Life, Dick Clark"Clark's influence on pop culture and the youth of the day was so swift and strong," says Abby West at Entertainment Weekly, that he was featured on NBC's classic program This Is Your Life — which surprises its guest with a retrospective of his or her life — before he even turned 30. Here, host Ralph Edwards lets Clark in on the surprise:
3. 1969: American Bandstand changes AmericaLong before MTV's various music video/dance shows, there was American Bandstand. Clark began hosting the series in 1956, and made it a national phenomenon. "I played records, the kids danced, and America watched," Clark once said. The program ran until 1987 and spotlighted more than 10,000 guests, introducing the U.S. to everyone from Buddy Holly to the Jackson 5 to Madonna. It was Clark's idea to invite black dancers onto American Bandstand. He also famously defied his producers by playing the music of black artists instead of playing covers of their songs as they were performed by white singers. Here, he interviews a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder:
4. 1976: A consummate hostBandstand's enduring popularity can be directly attributed to Clark's first-rate hosting, says James Poniewozik at TIME. He was "quick-witted, genial, [and] always pleasant," but more importantly, he pulled-off the tricky double act of appealing to everyday kids in the audience and the megastars who came on the show. He turned Bandstand into a "a chaperoned hangout" where American kids were "exposed to new pop music — and to each other." Here, a fresh-faced, pre-Grease John Travolta, discusses Welcome Back Kotter, Carrie, and his Broadway experience:
5. 1988: Final Pyramid episodeIn addition to his Bandstand gig, Clark was a popular game show host. He began hosting The $10,000 Pyramid in 1973, and stuck with the show through its multiple iterations ($50,000 Pyramid, $100,000 Pyramid), eventually becoming a producer as well. He hosted his final episode of Pyramid, highlighted here, in 1988:
6. 1994: Producer extraordinaireClark was as much a pioneer behind the camera as he was in front of it. At the request of ABC, he created the American Music Awards in 1974 to rival the Grammys. Dick Clark Productions, which he created in 1957, is also behind the popular Bloopers franchise, the Academy of Country Music Awards, and the Golden Globe Awards. He had his hand in so many productions that in 1985, he said: "It can be embarrassing. People come up to me and say, 'I love your show,' and I have no idea which one they're talking about." Here, he interviews Jerry Seinfeld at the '94 Golden Globes:
7. 2009: New Year's Rockin' Eve Hosting ABC's New Year's Eve bash was a natural fit for Clark, says Poniewozik. After all, he had been "minding the punchbowl of America's biggest TV party" on Bandstand for years. New Year's Rockin' Eve launched in 1972 with Three Dog Night and Helen Reddy as musical guests and Clark, of course, as host. In this video, he recalls the small production that was his first Times Sqaure countdown: "[It was] my wife and one cameraman, one soundman, and a ladder." From the time he started ringing in the new year, Clark only missed one appearance, after suffering a stroke in 2004. He went on to hand over the reins to Ryan Seacrest, but still returned each year to wish his loyal viewers a Happy New Year.
8. 2012: Remembering a legendClark's influence on TV and radio can't be measured. He was "the man who changed TV," says Gil Kaufman at MTV. He's a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Academy of Television Arts & Science Hall of Fame, and the Radio Hall of Fame, and his empire is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. "More important than his groundbreaking achievements was the way he made us feel — as young and vibrant and optimistic as he was," President Obama said in a statement. Below is his final appearance on New Year's Rockin' Eve this past January (starts at 7:00). "For now, Dick Clark... so long."