Business News Obituaries

Dick Clark 1929-2012

By | Published on Thursday 19 April 2012

Dick Clarke

US TV producer and presenter Dick Clark, best known for hosting ‘American Bandstand’ for 30 years between 1957 and 1987, died yesterday after suffering a heart attack. He was 82.

Born in 1929, Clark’s career began in 1945 when he became a weatherman and newsreader on WRUN-AM, a radio station owned by his uncle and managed by his father, having joined the company working in the mail room. After stints at various radio stations, he joined WFIL in Pennsylvania, which also had a sister TV station on which Clark became a stand-in presenter on a show called ‘Bob Horn’s Bandstand’.

When Horn was fired from the show after being arrested for drink driving, Clark took over as presenter full time in 1956. A year later it was syndicated to the ABC network and renamed ‘American Bandstand’.

Under Clark’s guidance, the show adopted a new format taking advantage of the emerging rock n roll music that was fast growing in popularity. An audience of teenagers were brought into the studio and were encouraged to dance to the latest releases, setting the standard for many a music show to follow. The first edition of the show also featured an interview with Elvis Presley.

‘American Bandstand’ became known for giving many artists their first national TV exposure, and over the years introduced artists including Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Buddy Holly, Talking Heads and many more.

As a result, Clark is often credited with convincing America’s adult population to accept rock n roll as an artform – something used both as positive and negative criticism. Clark himself acknowledged that his presentation was far from edgy, but also that he feared making it more so would be the death of the show.

Clark’s easy rapport with his musical guests, as well as the teenagers in the audience, was in part what kept him hosting the show for so many years, and also gained him work on other high profile programmes, including a gameshow, a TV outtakes show, and other variety shows. From 1972 up to last year he presented ‘Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve’ on the ABC network, only missing one year in 1999, though he handed over duties as main host of the show to Ryan Seacrest in 2004 after suffering a stroke.

He is survived by his children, Richard, Duane and Cindy, and his third wife Kari Wigton.