It was an ordinary day. Reading everyone's remembrances in the paper and watching people tell about them on TV. How about you. You have any special memories of America's oldest teenager, Dick Clark who died April 18, 2012? Richard Wagstaff Clark was born in Mount Vernon, NY in 1929. In 1952 he moved to Philadelphia to join radio station WFIL as a disc jockey. Four years later he replaced Bob Horn as the host of "American Bandstand" and transformed the show from a local audience to a national phenomenon. I can remember rushing home from school to see the 3:00 PM show on channel 6 during my high school years. I had my favorites on the show, both girls and couples. The guys wore coats and ties and the girls wore the latest fashion trend or maybe even created it with their choice of clothes. In 1961, when I was starting my senior year in high school, our local TV station, WGAL Channel 8, premiered "Dance Party," which was a knock-off of "American Bandstand." Every Saturday afternoon area teenagers traveled to Channel 8 Studio "A" to perform on the show. I got to visit the show when WGAL invited my high school for the week. It was a "live" show and no films or videotapes of the show still remain, since it was extremely expensive back then to make reproductions. One of the hosts, Marijane Landis, is still living in the area and is in her 80s, much like Dick Clark was. The original "American Bandstand" was one of network TV's longest-running series as part of ABC's daytime lineup from 1957 to 1987. Many a star was "born" on American Bandstand. Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, The Platters, The Crows, The Jayhawks, and even Madonna gained fame from being on the show. The South Philly guys such as Fabian, Frankie Avalon, and Bobby Rydell became big names after being on "American Bandstand." Carol and I have seen the the later three guys, now known as "The Golden Boys," in concert at the American Music Theater. Matter of fact, Frankie's son plays the drums in the back-up band. 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. The show's status as an American cultural institution was solidified when Clark donated Bandstand's original podium and backdrop to the Smithsonian Institution. Since Dick's rise to fame with "American Bandstand," he has appeared in other radio and TV programs such as "The $25,000 Pyramid, "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes," and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve." 1994 saw Dick as the spokesman for the American Association of Diabetes Educators, having been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes that year. In 2004 Dick suffered a stroke which affected his speech. May the biggest icon in Rock and Roll history rest in peace. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Below are a few more photos you may remember.
Lancaster's WGAL Channel 8 Dance Party Set
Dick Clark in his prime
Dick Clark on Rockin' New Year's Eve Show
email my son received from a friend