Dick Clark, the youthful-looking host of ABC’s AMERICAN BANDSTAND from 1957-89, aka “America’s Oldest Living Teenager” (also called “The World’s Oldest Living Teenager”) was a favorite with America’s Rock n’ Rollers for almost five decades.
Early in his career, Clark discovered that because he looked 10 years younger than his age, he was unimpressive as a news commentator. However, that same look paid off when he became host of the popular teenage program AMERICAN BANDSTAND.
His youthful image is linked to his youthful attitude. He stays ahead of the trends by reading teen magazines and prefers the company of younger friends because they are vibrant and not yet jaded by life’s experiences.
With seemingly unlimited energy he has become the first person to host three programs simultaneously on all three networks including AMERICAN BANDSTAND, TV’S BLOOPERS AND PRACTICAL JOKES, and the $25,000 PYRAMID.
Besides being responsible for over 7000 hours of television productions, Dick Clark finds time to count down the minutes till midnight on his annual NEW YEARS ROCKIN’ EVE event from Time’s Square, and to open a chain of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Grills-located in such cities as Kansas City, Indianapolis, Reno, Nevada, Columbus, Ohio and the original in Miami, Florida. His recipe for success is “Great food, generous portions, unique setting, and lots of entertainment.
The Rock and Roll memorabilia displayed at the restaurants included vintage photos and contracts signed by “Bandstand” stars; Chubby Checker’s checkered boots; Prince’s “Purple Rain” tour jacket, and the world’s largest electric guitar (weight: 1,865 pounds).
David Letterman from LATE NIGHT satirized Dick Clark’s ubiquity and declared he should be forced to step down and give some one else a chance.
Note: The only other personality to come close to Dick Clark’s record was Arthur Godfrey. In the 1950s, he was the only person on television to have two top rated programs running simultaneously in prime time for an extended period (8 1/2 seasons). On Mondays viewers could see him on ARTHUR GODFREY’S TALENT SCOUTS/CBS/1948-58 and then on Wednesdays on ARTHUR GODFREY AND HIS FRIENDS/CBS/1949-59.
In 1956, Dick Clark insisted that the dance floor be opened to African-American kids in an attempt to integrate black and white teenagers. He displayed a huge poster in his office that read: “Don’t Play Negro Records” to remind young African-Americans visitors of the heavy dues that their parent’s generations endured to get them where they are today.
Born Richard Wagstaff Clark on November 30, 1929 in Mount Vernon, New York, Dick Clark, “America’s Oldest Living Teenager” died from cardiac arrest on April 18, 2012 in Santa Monica, California. He was 82.
For his achievements in television, Dick Clark was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood. It is located on the East side of the 1500 block of Vine Street.
See also – “The Bandstand Cover Girl“