PHILADELPHIA — Dick Clark may have worked in bigger cities over the course of his long entertainment career, but it was his time in Philadelphia that made him a household name.
Clark, who died Wednesday at the age of 82, hosted the wildly popular "American Bandstand" show at WFIL-TV in west Philadelphia in the 1950s and '60s. It became a cultural touchstone for legions of teenagers eager to hear the newest pop music and see the latest dance craze.
And though he later moved to Los Angeles and served as the longtime host of New York's annual year-end festivities in Times Square, Clark never forgot his roots in the City of Brotherly Love, said Lew Klein, an early executive producer of the show that became an institution.
"He was a very loyal person and he never lost his appreciation for the good luck that Philadelphia gave him with the visibility of 'Bandstand,'" Klein told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
They first met in 1952 when Klein, then a programming director, interviewed Clark for a job as a disc jockey in Philadelphia. Clark had recently graduated from Syracuse University and was "youthful, understood the music that was popular, (was) very articulate and extremely personable," Klein said.
Meanwhile, a local show called "Bandstand" began airing the same year on WFIL-TV. Klein moved Clark over to host the show in 1956, when original host Bob Horn was fired. The program made its national debut as "American Bandstand" on Aug. 5, 1957.
"We were like the trendsetters of the time," said Steve Colanero, a regular dancer on the show for about two years. "We were too young to realize how much of an impact we had."
WFIL-TV sat at the corner of 46th and Market streets, where crowds of well-dressed boys and girls lined up in hopes of getting on the show. Only kids between 14 and 18 were allowed in, but Colanero admitted Wednesday that he was only 13 when he began appearing in 1959.
In addition to dancing, Colanero said he often led the musical acts from the dressing room out to Studio B. He said he was thrilled to meet Bobby Darin, as well as Sammy Davis Jr. and Nat King Cole.
Colanero, now a 66-year-old retiree in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., also recalled running into a disguised Clark on the elevated train. A taxi strike had apparently led the host to take public transportation to the studio, and Colanero said he didn't recognize Clark when he called to him on the train.
"He was in a full beard," recalled Colanero. "He says, 'It's me, Dick.'"
The show moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles in 1964. Clark later became one of the nation's most recognized broadcast personalities and a major show business entrepreneur.
Yet Philadelphia boasts troves of Clark — and "Bandstand" — related memorabilia. Klein, who went on to become a longtime broadcast executive in the city, just last week donated his papers to Temple University, a collection that includes early pictures and videos of "Bandstand." The original door to Studio B — autographed by Clark — is on display at WPVI-TV, the descendant of WFIL that is now in a new location.
The original WFIL building has become The Enterprise Center, an incubator for entrepreneurs. It opened in 1997 on the 40th anniversary of the first national broadcast of "Bandstand," according to president Della Clark. She is not related to Dick Clark.
Outside, a historic marker tells the story of the show's rise to national prominence, while memorabilia fills a conference room inside. Studio B, which is largely preserved and decorated with additional mementos, serves as a function room. There's still a satellite dish on the roof, she said.
Della Clark said Wednesday that the building's new mission seems appropriate considering Dick Clark's successful business career: He produced shows including "The $25,000 Pyramid," ''TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes" and the American Music Awards.
His death, she said, "reminded me of the stewardship responsibilities of keeping this flame alive in terms of the birthplace of 'American Bandstand.'"
Musicians with Philadelphia roots also praised Clark and his legacy. John Oates, of the pop duo Hall & Oates, told the AP in an email that Clark was more than just the host of "American Bandstand."
"With an understated on-air presence, he made the kids and their music the stars of the show," said Oates. "His genius was in his ability to use the power of television to help define how American teenagers saw themselves." -- (AP)
It was déjà vu in West Philadelphia on Monday August 6, as the multi-purpose room at the Enterprise Center on 45th Market Street, transformed into the American Bandstand studio.
The Enterprise Center, which is located on the exact location where the popular televised dance show WFIL-TV was produced decades ago, held an anniversary celebration where some of the original dancers of the program returned for a reunion.
There were 1950’s checkered tablecloths on the tables, a DJ from 98.1 FM and people dancing on the floor to songs from the Bandstand era.
“Today’s event is recognizing American Bandstand and what it meant to Philadelphia and what it meant to the people who are here attending today,” said Della Clark, president of the Enterprise Center. “This was their life at 13, 14, and 15-years-old and to come back to the old studio which represented their hopes and dreams.”
Clark said the reunion revitalizes the hopes and dreams that were once inspired by American Bandstand.
The broadcast, said Clark, identified local talent and helped to shape such talent. In this way, the Enterprise Center has the same goal.
“So we are just keeping the tradition alive,” she said. “As we say in the Enterprise Center ‘The beat goes on.’”
Bunny Gibson was an original dancer on the hit show and said she was excited about the event.
“American Bandstand was a real turning point in my life and probably one of the biggest things that ever happened to me,” she said.
Gibson met her husband, who saw her dancing on the show and arranged to meet with her. As a result of her appearance on Bandstand, she went on to perform in other venues.
“If it wasn’t for Della Clark, this whole building might have been torn down,” she said. “God bless her for saving our studio and now, thanks to her, I just think it’s great that we are giving back to the community and the studio is still helping people.”
Nicholas Fiorentino, known as “Nicky Blue” was also a regular on the show and referred to Bandstand’s host, Dick Clark, as a “stellar guy” who helped shape and mold him as a young man.
Recording artist, Dee Dee Sharp was on hand to attend the anniversary and was greeted by a throng of regulars anxious to meet her.
“Dick Clark actually promoted my record in 1962,” Sharp said. “I’m 67 now and was about 16 years old [then]. American Bandstand changed my life because no one knew who I was.”
LOS ANGELES — Dick Clark, the ever-youthful television host and tireless entrepreneur who helped bring rock 'n' roll into the mainstream on "American Bandstand," and later produced and hosted a vast range of programming from game shows to the New Year's Eve countdown from Times Square, has died. He was 82.
Spokesman Paul Shefrin said Clark had a heart attack Wednesday morning at Saint John's hospital in Santa Monica, where he had gone the day before for an outpatient procedure.
Clark had continued performing even after he suffered a stroke in 2004 that affected his ability to speak and walk.
Long dubbed "the world's oldest teenager" because of his boyish appearance, Clark bridged the rebellious new music scene and traditional show business, and equally comfortable whether chatting about music with Sam Cooke or bantering with Ed McMahon about TV bloopers. He thrived as the founder of Dick Clark Productions, supplying movies, game and music shows, beauty contests and more to TV. Among his credits: "The $25,000 Pyramid," ''TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes" and the American Music Awards.
For a time in the 1980s, he had shows on all three networks and was listed among the Forbes 400 of wealthiest Americans. 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," 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."
The original "American Bandstand" was one of network TV's longest-running series as part of ABC's daytime lineup from 1957 to 1987. It later aired for a year in syndication and briefly on the USA Network. Over the years, it introduced stars ranging from Buddy Holly to Madonna. The show's status as an American cultural institution was solidified when Clark donated Bandstand's original podium and backdrop to the Smithsonian Institution.
Clark joined "Bandstand" in 1956 after Bob Horn, who'd been the host since its 1952 debut, was fired. Under Clark's guidance, it went from a local Philadelphia show to a national phenomenon.
"I played records, the kids danced, and America watched," was how 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, he 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.
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, 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," he said.
But 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.
His stroke in December 2004 forced him to miss his annual appearance on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve." He returned the following year and, although his speech at times was difficult to understand, many praised his bravery, including other stroke victims.
Still speaking with difficulty, he continued taking part in his New Year's shows, though in a diminished role. Ryan Seacrest became the main host.
"I'm just thankful I'm still able to enjoy this once-a-year treat," he told The Associated Press by e-mail in December 2008 as another New Year's Eve approached.
He was honored at the Emmy Awards in 2006, telling the crowd: "I have accomplished my childhood dream, to be in show business. Everybody should be so lucky to have their dreams come true. I've been truly blessed."
He 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.
Clark idolized his athletic older brother, Bradley, who was killed in World War II. In his 1976 autobiography, "Rock, Roll & Remember," Clark recalled how radio helped ease his loneliness and turned him into a fan of Steve Allen, Arthur Godfrey and other popular hosts.
From 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."
Clark began his career in the mailroom of a Utica, N.Y., radio station in 1945. By age 26, he 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, Clark befriended McMahon, who later credited Clark for introducing him to his future "Tonight Show" boss, Johnny Carson.
In the 1960s, "American Bandstand" moved from black-and-white to color, from weekday broadcasts to once-a-week Saturday shows and from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Although its influence started to ebb, it still featured some of the biggest stars of each decade, whether Janis Joplin, the Jackson 5, Talking Heads or Prince. But Clark never did book two of rock's iconic groups, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Elvis Presley also never performed, although Clark managed an on-air telephone interview while Presley was in the Army.
When Michael Jackson died in June 2009, Clark recalled working with him since he was a child, adding, "of all the thousands of entertainers I have worked with, Michael was THE most outstanding. Many have tried and will try to copy him, but his talent will never be matched."
Clark kept more than records spinning with his Dick Clark Productions. Its credits included the Academy of Country Music and Golden Globe awards; TV movies including the Emmy-winning "The Woman Who Willed a Miracle" (1984), the "$25,000 Pyramid" game show and the 1985 film "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins." Clark himself made a cameo on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and a dramatic appearance as a witness on the original "Perry Mason." He was an involuntary part of Michael Moore's Academy Award-winning "Bowling for Columbine," in which Clark is seen brushing off Moore as the filmmaker confronts him about working conditions at a restaurant owned by Clark.
In 1974, at ABC's request, Clark created the American Music Awards after the network lost the broadcast rights to the Grammy Awards.
He was also an author, with "Dick Clark's American Bandstand" and such self-help books as "Dick Clark's Program for Success in Your Business and Personal Life" and "Looking Great, Staying Young." His unchanging looks inspired a joke in "Peggy Sue Gets Married," the 1986 comedy starring Kathleen Turner as an unhappy wife and mother transported back to 1960. Watching Clark on a black and white TV set, she shakes her head in amazement, "Look at that man, he never ages."
Clark's clean-cut image survived a music industry scandal. In 1960, during a congressional investigation of "payola" or bribery in the record and radio industry, Clark was called on to testify.
He was cleared of any suspicions but was required by ABC to divest himself of record-company interests to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. The demand cost him $8 million, Clark once estimated. His holdings included partial ownership of Swan Records, which later released the first U.S. version of the Beatles' smash "She Loves You."
In 2004, 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 Clark.
He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1994 and served as spokesman for the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
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. -- (AP)
As the official awards season gets under way, ABC presents “The 40th Anniversary American Music Awards” (AMAs), created in 1973 by the late producer and broadcast icon Dick Clark to "pay tribute to popular musicians from various genres of music and to put audiences in touch with the latest phenomena in American music."
The ceremony will broadcast live from the NOKIA Theatre in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. on Sunday, November 18.
Winners are determined by the listening public, and Nicki Minaj and Rihanna both lead this year with four nominations individually, while Drake, Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, One Direction and Usher follow with three nominations each and Carrie Underwood, Chris Brown, fun., Gotye, J. Cole, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Luke Bryan and Pitbull collected two nominiations.
The 2012 Artist of the Year nominees include Justin Bieber, Drake, Maroon 5, Katy Perry and Rihanna. This year marks the creation of the new Electronic Dance Music category. The nominees are David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Skrillex.
In an interesting development, Pop/R&B icon Lionel Richie received a nomination in the category of "Favorite Album - Country," for "Tuskegee." The field also includes Luke Bryan ("Tailgates & Tanlines") and Carrie Underwood ("Blown Away").
Performing at the annual showcase for American Music will be Usher, Christina Aguilera, Justin Bieber, Kelly Clarkson, Carly Rae Jepson, Psy, Carrie Underwood, Pink, Pitbull, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Linkin Park, Ke$ha, No Doubt and The Wanted and Swizz Beatz featuring Chris Brown and Ludacris.
American Music Awards nominees are selected from both BigChampagne's Ultimate and Mediabase. The Ultimate Chart is a ranked list of the most popular artists and songs based on a weighted combination of music sales, radio and TV broadcast, internet streaming and video viewing, and incorporating additional online metrics, including activity on social networks. Mediabase monitors more than 1,800 radio stations in 180 U.S. and Canadian markets, 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week and provides vital airplay and programming information to more than 1,700 affiliate radio stations and every major broadcast group. Winner are chosen by public vote online.