DICK CLARK: Dead at 82
Dick Clark, "America's oldest teenager," died this morning at age 82 from a heart attack. Aside from his annual New Year's Eve appearance, he'd stayed out of the public eye since a 2004 stroke impaired his ability to speak.
The Mount Vernon, New York native created American Bandstand and helped America ring in the New Year for decades, but he also hosted several game shows -- most notably The $10,000 Pyramid (whose prize eventually grew to 100-thousand) -- and became a prolific producer of awards shows and concert tours.
In 1957, a year after becoming host of a local Philadelphia dance show, Clark convinced a then-struggling ABC to air it nationally. What was originally a 13-week run became 30 years, and American Bandstand became the after-school meeting place for teenagers. Early guests included Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, Fabian and The Dovells. Clark moved Bandstand to L.A. in the winter of '64, just as The Beatles kicked off the British Invasion. Soon, new American stars joined the Bandstand playlist, including The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, Johnny Rivers and Jackie DeShannon.
Moving west also gave Clark the chance to build his production company. During the '60s, he created Where the Action Is, which swapped Bandstand's studio setting for a "stars on location" theme, and Happening, starring the former Action house band Paul Revere and the Raiders. When ABC sought a youthful competitor to bandleader Guy Lombardo's annual New Year's special, Clark gave the network New Year's Rockin' Eve. And when the Grammys moved to CBS, Clark filled the void with the rival American Music Awards. Dick Clark Productions also produces the Golden Globes, the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Family Television Awards. Clark emceed dozens of Bloopers specials with Ed McMahon. More recently, his company partnered in NBC's prime-time drama American Dreams, which drew on authentic American Bandstand footage as a backdrop for its 1960s-based plot.
Clark also licensed his name and that of American Bandstand for a chain of restaurants, including one at a New Jersey Turnpike rest stop. And in 2006, the brand name was extended to a Branson, Missouri theater specializing in the '50s and '60s music with which he was strongly associated.
With his mammoth impact on rock and roll history, Dick Clark was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its non-performers category in 1993.
Married three times, Clark is survived by his wife Kari and three sons. --Mike McCann