Legendary TV host Dick Clark dies at 82 after suffering a massive heart attack
Beloved television icon Dick Clark, who brought American Bandstand and his trademark New Year’s countdown to living rooms for decades, has died at 82.
Spokesman Paul Shefrin said Dick Clark suffered a massive heart attack Wednesday morning at Saint John’s hospital in Santa Monica, a day after he was admitted for an outpatient procedure.
Dick Clark had continued performing even after he suffered a stroke in 2004 that affected his ability to speak and walk.
He thrived as the founder of Dick Clark Productions, supplying movies, game and music shows, beauty contests and more to TV.
As news of Dick Clark’s death spread, a number of TV, screen and stage stars took to Twitter to express their sorrow.
Among them was Ryan Seacrest, who has named Dick Clark as a huge influence on his own career.
He said: “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.”
Not everyone was so reverential. Comedian and actor Dennis Leary referred to Dick Clark as one of the last “leather faced syrup voiced lizard people”.
Among his credits: The $25,000 Pyramid, TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes and the American Music Awards.
For a time in the 1980s, Dick Clark had shows on all three networks and was listed among the Forbes 400 of wealthiest Americans.
Dick Clark also was part of radio as partner in the United Stations Radio Network, which provided programs – including Clark’s – to thousands of stations.
“There’s hardly any segment of the population that doesn’t see what I do,” Dick Clark told The Associated Press in a 1985 interview.
“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.”
Dick Clark was dubbed “America’s oldest teenager” because of his fresh-faced appearance that was seemingly unchanged for years.
But the stroke in December 2004 changed that, severely damaging Dick Clark’s mobility and leaving him unable to appear on the New Year’s Eve telecast that year.
When he returned to Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in 2005, he appeared noticeably gaunt and frail.
Dick Clark was born Richard Wagstaff Clark in Mount Vernon, N.Y., in 1929.
His father, Richard Augustus Clark, was a sales manager who worked in radio.
Dick Clark idolized his athletic older brother, Bradley, who was killed in World War II.
He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1994 and served as spokesman for the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
Dick Clark, twice divorced, had a son, Richard Augustus II, with first wife Barbara Mallery and two children, Duane and Cindy, with second wife Loretta Martin. He married Kari Wigton in 1977.
In his 1976 autobiography, Rock, Roll & Remember, Dick Clark recalled how radio helped ease his loneliness and turned him into a fan of Steve Allen, Arthur Godfrey and other popular hosts.
From Arthur Godfrey, he said, he learned that “a radio announcer does not talk to <<those of you out there in radio land>>; a radio announcer talks to me as an individual”.
Dick Clark began his career in the mailroom of a Utica, N.Y., radio station in 1945.
By age 26, Dick Clark was a broadcasting veteran, with nine years’ experience on radio and TV stations in Syracuse and Utica, N.Y., and Philadelphia.
He held a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University.
While in Philadelphia, Dick Clark befriended McMahon, who later credited Clark for introducing him to his future Tonight Show boss, Johnny Carson.
The original American Bandstand was one of network TV’s longest-running series as part of ABC’s daytime line-up from 1957 to 1987.
Dick Clark joined Bandstand in 1956 after Bob Horn, who’d been the host since its 1952 debut, was fired. Under his guidance, it went from a local Philadelphia show to a national phenomenon.
“I played records, the kids danced, and America watched,” was how Dick Clark once described the series’ simplicity. In his 1958 hit Sweet Little Sixteen, Chuck Berry sang that “they’ll be rocking on Bandstand, Philadelphia, P-A”.
As a host, Dick Clark had the smooth delivery of a seasoned radio announcer. As a producer, he had an ear for a hit record.
He also knew how to make wary adults welcome this odd new breed of music in their homes.
Dick Clark endured accusations that he was in with the squares, with critic Lester Bangs defining Bandstand as “a leggily acceptable euphemism of the teenage experience”.
In a 1985 interview, Dick Clark acknowledged the complaints.
“But I knew at the time that if we didn’t make the presentation to the older generation palatable, it could kill it.
“So along with Little Richard and Chuck Berry and the Platters and the Crows and the Jayhawks … the boys wore coats and ties and the girls combed their hair and they all looked like sweet little kids into a high school dance.”
Dick Clark defended pop artists and artistic freedom, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame said in an online biography of the 1993 inductee.
He helped give black artists their due by playing original R&B recordings instead of cover versions by white performers, and he condemned censorship.
Over the years, it introduced stars ranging from Buddy Holly to Michael Jackson to Bon Jovi to Madonna.
In 2004, Dick Clark announced plans for a revamped version of American Bandstand. The show, produced with American Idol creator Simon Fuller, was to feature a host other than Dick Clark.