RIP: Dick Clark, ‘America’s Oldest Living Teenager’, Dead At 82

VARIETY: Dick Clark, known to several generations as the host of “American Bandstand,” died of a heart attack today. He was 82. Though he was most closely associated with the TV dance show, Clark was a shrewd entrepreneur in radio, television and music, creating a production empire that elevated his net worth to more than $100 million. During his career he won five Emmy awards, including one for “American Bandstand.” Attempts to act in front of the camera, however, proved virtually fruitless despite Clark’s wholesome American good looks and his predisposition for remaining youthful looking well into his later years. He often referred to himself as “the world’s oldest living teenager.” Richard Wagstaff Clark was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y. While studying at Syracuse U., where he majored in advertising and minored in radio, Clark was a DJ for the campus radio station and for WOLF, a commercial radio station in town. During his summers worked at WRUN in Utica, where his father was manager. He often did weather forecasts and station breaks. In his first TV job, as a newscaster at Utica’s WKTV, Clark learned the trick of recording his delivery on tape and then listening to it via hidden earphone and synchronizing his lips with the recording. His delivery was, thus, always smooth and flawless. In 1952 he moved on to WFIL radio in Philadelphia and soon thereafter joined the station’s television affiliate. His youthful appearance worked against him as a news commentator and announcer. However, the radio station gave him is own weekday show, “Dick Clark’s Caravan of Music,” later changed to “Bandstand,” though it had little to do with the show on the station’s TV affiliate. In 1955 he was substitute host on the TV “Bandstand” and, when its regular host was arrested for drunken driving and other infractions, Clark inherited the job. Two years later “Bandstand” was the highest-rated daytime show in Philadelphia, boosting the careers of such local talent as Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon and Chubby Checker. That same year, ABC tested the show coast-to-coast and a few months later assigned it a permanent daytime slot, changing the name to “American Bandstand.” MORE

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