Dick Clark, American (1929 - 2012)

Richard Wagstaff Clark was born November 30, 1929 in Mount Vernon, New York.He was an average student until he reached the tenth grade and discovered radio..At that time he decided radio would be his career.

The summer after high school Clark was given a job at WRUN-AM radio in Rome, NY. The station was owned by his uncle and run by his father. Clark was only an office boy, but the station manager asked him to fill in for a vacationing weatherman on WRUN's new FM station. By summer's end Clark had advanced to station breaks.

Clark attended Syracuse University where he majored in advertising with a minor in radio. In his senior year he had a got a job with WOLF a country station in Syracuse He came back to WRUN for a short time where he used the name Richard Clay that led to his first television job, as a newscaster at WKTV in Utica, NY. Using the name Dick Clark in 1952 he went to work for WFIL radio and television in Philadelphia, PA.That summer WFIL decided to follow the new trend of having announcers play records over the air. Shortly there after, they tried the same format on television. Bob Horn, a WRIL radio deejay, aired an early form of music video on a show called "Bandstand". Within a month teenagers were invited to come and dance while Horn played records.. The show became very successful with the high school students.

At this time Clark was hosting a similar program on WFIL radio and in 1955 when Horn went on vacation Clark filled in for him. Clark took over the show on July 9, 1956 after Horn's drunken driving arrest.

Clark knew almost none of the songs, but had the insight to work with the kids. He'd ask about favorite songs, clothing trends and watched for dance fads. At 26 he was young enough to be a friend and projected a none threatening image. After several years of local success Bandstand went national. The first national broadcast of American Bandstand was on August 5, 1957 on ABC-TV from 3:00-4:30 P.M.. This was the perfect time to reach teens coming home from school. Girls that appeared on the show weren't allowed to wear slacks or tight sweaters and the boys had to wear a coat and tie. Smoking and chewing gum was not allowed. The show was built around a regular group of Philadelphia high school students who developed their own national following

American Bandstand provided the first national exposure of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, and Chubby Checker among others. The success of the show also encouraged the proliferation of local labels such as Cameo-Parkway, Swan, Jamie, and Chancellor. Clark was financially involved in Swan and Jamie, and acts for these labels, and acts for these labels seemed to prosper more than most as a result of exposure on American Bandstand.

On Feb 15, 1958 The Dick Clark Show received a spot in ABC-TV's Saturday night line up.. It featured established as well as new acts and was broadcast live from New York. Twenty million fans were watching American Bandstand and by the end of the year was being carried on sixty-four stations.

Clark moved his headquarters to Los Angeles in the 1960s. In 1965 he produced "Where The Action Is" for ABC-TV. Hosted by Paul Revere and the Raiders it was a "Bandstand" type show. Clark continued to host American Bandstand after it left ABC-TV and went into syndication. When he quit hosting in 1989 it had become the longest running television variety show of all time.

In 1973 Clark produced the American Music Awards Show. The show was to offset what younger music executives felt of the Grammy awards toward "adult contemporary music" Clark also became host for "$10, 000 Pyramid" and "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes"

In 1972, Clark produced and hosted Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, the first of an ongoing series of specials still broadcast on New Year's Eve. The program has typically consisted of live remotes of Clark in Times Square in New York City, counting down until the New Year ball comes down. After the ball drops, the focus of the program switches to musical segments taped prior to the show in Hollywood, California. The special is live in the Eastern Time Zone, and it is delayed for the other time zones so that they can ring in the New Year with Clark when midnight strikes in their area.

ABC has broadcast the event on every New Year's Eve since 1972 except in 1999 when it was pre-empted for ABC 2000 Today, news coverage of the milestone year hosted by Peter Jennings. In the more than three decades it has been on the air, the show has become a mainstay in U.S. New Year's Eve celebrations. Before then, Guy Lombardo (a.k.a. "Mr. New Year's Eve"), along with his big band orchestra, the Royal Canadians, had long been the main draw for New Year's Eve broadcasts for radio and, later, for television (on CBS). Watching the ball in Times Square drop on Clark's show is considered an annual cultural tradition for the New Year's holiday.

Twice, Clark was not able to host his show. The first time happened at the end of 1999, going into 2000, due to ABC 2000 Today. However, during that broadcast, Clark, along with ABC News correspondent Jack Ford, announced his signature countdown to the new year. He was a correspondent, according to the transcript of the broadcast released by ABC News. Ford had been assigned to Times Square during the broadcast, and thus, Clark's role was limited. Nevertheless, he won a Peabody Award for his coverage. The second time happened at the end of 2004, as he was recovering from his stroke; Regis Philbin substituted as host. The following year, Clark returned to the show, although Ryan Seacrest served as primary host. From December 31, 2005, onward, Clark has co-hosted New Year's Rockin Eve with Seacrest.

Shares of Dick Clark Productions began trading in 1987. In 1990s he produced made for TV films as well as theatrical movies

Clarks personal taste in music was set in the 40s. This can be seen in American Bandstand he choose "Bandstand Boogie" by Les Elgarts Orchestra. The Dick Clark Show shifted away from rockers and by 1959 "pop" performers were appearing frequently

Clark tried to get a feel for the music he played and genuinely liked the teenagers and performers as individuals. However, Clark said that the sole reason for his relationship with rock and roll was for the money. Asked what his main contribution was Clark replied that he was proud to present more artists on television then anyone else. However, Clark had a large share of the responsibility for changing rock and roll from a vital energized music in 1956 into the homogenized 'teenpop' in 1959

Dick Clark was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. In 1999, along with Bob Boden, he was one of the executive producers of Fox's TV game show Greed, which ran from November 5, 1999, to July 14, 2000, and was hosted by Chuck Woolery. At the same time, Clark also hosted the Stone-Stanley-created Winning Lines, which ran for six weeks on CBS from January 8, 2000 – February 12, 2000.

From 2001 to 2003, Clark was a co-host of The Other Half with Mario Lopez, Danny Bonaduce, and Dorian Gregory, a syndicated daytime talk show intended to be the male equivalent of The View. Clark also produced the television series American Dreams about a Philadelphia family in the early 1960s whose daughter is a regular on American Bandstand. The series ran from 2002 to 2005.

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