Richard Wagstaff Clark (November 30, 1929 — April 18, 2012) was an American TV and radio personality who was affectionately known as "America's Oldest Teenager". Born in 1929, Clark would be the man that introduced many Americans to rock & roll and his signature program on New Year's Eve made him a face of the holiday.
Clark began work at a New York radio station in 1945 as a morning DJ, and during his college years he interned at a few different radio and television stations. His career would take off in 1952 when he would move to Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania and in 1956, took over as the host of American Bandstand when it moved to national television. With his time on the series, Clark introduced a new generation of teens and their parents to rock & roll. His success came from his clean and family friendly image along with his image to teenagers.
Clark would expand to hosting game shows in 1964 with his most famous run being on Pyramid. By 1972 he would venture into his second famous role by creating New Year's Rockin' Eve and creating his company Dick Clark Productions to produce the show. Clark wanted to challenge the New Year's Eve Special produced by Guy Lombardo, since he felt its big-band music was too old-timey. Clark would host his first edition of the show in 1973 and it would become popular enough that it became the single program that defined New Year's Eve in America.
In 2004 Clark suffered a stroke that left him unable to host New Year's Rockin' Eve for 2005. He returned the following year to continue his traditional countdown to midnight, all despite the stroke leaving his speech slurred for the rest of his life. Clark died on April 18, 2012 following a heart attack, but his presence on New Year's Eve was still a stand-out at the time of his death.
Programs hosted by Dick Clark:
- American Bandstand
- The Challengers
- New Year's Rockin' Eve
- Pyramid (every incarnation, save one, from 1973-1988)
- TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes
- Winning Lines
- Challenge Of The Child Geniuses: Who Is The Smartest Kid In America?
Programs created and/or produced by Dick Clark:
- The Weird Al Show
- The American Music Awards
- American Dreams (which famously had American Bandstand as a Framing Device and a Show Within a Show)
- New Year's Rockin' Eve (which he created as a competitor to CBS's New Year's Eve special, feeling it did not attract younger viewers.
- The Chamber
- Let's Make a Deal (The 1990 version)
- Donny & Marie
- Camp Midnite
- Mad Libs
Tropes invoked by Dick Clark
- Adam Westing: Dick would occasionally play along with humor that was related to how young he looked, despite his age. This was taken to an unusual extreme in a quick sketch shown during Jay Leno's original Tonight Show run, in which Dick, wearing Egyptian garb, hosted The 25,000-Year-Old Pyramid.
- Big Brother Mentor: During his final years, he shared a beautiful bond with Ryan Seacrest, who admired him beyond words.
- The Cameo: Dick appeared as himself in several shows, including:
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
- Futurama — he rings in the year 3000 in the show's pilot
- Police Squad!
- Batman (the 1966 version)
- The Simpsons
- American Dreams - he occasionally provided voice overs over Stock Footage of his younger self
- He portrayed (as a character, not as himself) the owner of an auto racetrack in an episode of Adam-12.
- Cool Old Guy: Easily one of the coolest old guys of all time.
- Game Show Host: See above.
- Good with Numbers: Averted. This was something of a running gag on Pyramid, where Dick's troubles with math were often on public display.
- Money, Dear Boy: Clark made it no secret that this was the reason for many of his entertainment ventures. He has been quoted as saying:"I used every single opportunity I could to make money. I managed artists, I pressed records, I did tours, I owned labels, I did everything I could think to turn a dollar."
- Older Than They Look: Part of the reason he was known as America's oldest teenager, until his stroke in 2004.
- Referenced in a song by Benny Mardones titled, appropriately enough, "American Bandstand".On American Bandstand
You look just the same and
You're not growing older like everyone else and I'm wondering
You might be a spaceman, Mr. American Bandstand
Cause you're not growing older like everyone else and I'm wondering
Could it be that rock 'n' roll music made you stay so young, those rock 'n' roll songs?
- Even after his stroke, albeit to a much lesser extent, where he looked to be in his 60's while he was in his 80's (before his stroke, he never looked older than 40).
- Referenced in a song by Benny Mardones titled, appropriately enough, "American Bandstand".
- Signing-Off Catchphrase: "For now, Dick Clark... [salutes] ...so long."
- Sophisticated as Hell