Dick Clark, famed host of American Bandstand from 1956 to 1989, producer, and yearly host of the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve telecast, died of what is being called a “massive heart attack” on Wednesday morning, following an outpatient procedure. He was 82 years old.
As an ever-present television personality, Clark’s audiences have watch his health decline ever since 2004, when the producer suffered a serious stroke that left him with some impaired speech and physicality, and caused him to miss hosting his annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve telecast for the first and only time since 1972. Clark also later admitted in an interview with Larry King that he suffered from diabetes.
Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Nov. 30, 1929, as Richard Wagstaff Clark, “America’s oldest teenager” pursued an interest in the music industry by becoming a DJ at Syracuse University while a student there, before moving on to various other radio stations and eventually nabbing the hosting gig on a new television show, American Bandstand.
It was on Bandstand that Clark routinely helped introduced the suburban teens of America to such varied artists as Chuck Berry and Elvis, positing himself as an inoffensive (some would even say bland) but incredibly powerful arbiter of middle America’s pop music tastes throughout much of the 1950s and early 1960s.
Clark then went on to dominate the televised airwaves of the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s by also hosting such shows as $25,000 Pyramid, TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes, and the American Music Awards as well as the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve program.
Clark’s agent, Paul Shefrin, announced on Wednesday that Clark had suffered from the massive heart attack at St. John’s hospital in Los Angeles, after undergoing an outpatient procedure on Thursday night.
Clark is survived by his three children from the first two of three marriages, and by his current wife, Kari Wigton.
In the words of Clark himself, from his famous sign-off: “For now, Dick Clark … so long.”
What is your favorite Dick Clark memory?