Once known as "America's oldest living teenager," emcee, occasional actor, television producer, commercial pitchman, restaurateur, and entrepreneur Dick Clark was one of Hollywood's powerhouses, but became most famous for hosting the longest-running series on the ABC television network, American Bandstand, which aired from 1957 to 1987 and then was resurrected for a year on the USA network in 1989. This show played a vital role in promoting rock music and gave many important acts their first national exposure.
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Clark began his career as a radio announcer. The first episodes of American Bandstand were broadcast from Philadelphia and were quite innovative. Each show featured popular artists who lip-synched their latest hits, interviews, autograph sessions, and lots of teen dancing. Though playing rock & roll music -- which was still regarded with trepidation and suspicion among conservatives -- the shows were reassuringly wholesome, an image in large part projected by the clean-cut, friendly, and honest-faced Clark himself. Through the years, the canny host secured the rights to each episode, many of which contain the only available clips of popular performers and one-hit wonders alike. Therefore, his collection provided a priceless archive to the history of rock music.
Clark at one time was an aspiring actor and has appeared in a few feature films playing someone other than himself. He made his feature-film debut in 1960's Because They're Young. As an emcee, he hosted game shows and the ABC New Year's Eve telecast from Times Square in New York for many years. He also hosted numerous television compilation shows, often in the company of Ed McMahon with whom he represented the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes on television. As a producer, Clark's Dick Clark Productions was responsible for numerous series, television movies, game shows, specials, and compilations as well as television commercials and awards specials. As a restaurant owner, Clark founded a small chain of Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grills, rock & roll-themed restaurants decorated with memorabilia from Clark's enormous personal collection.
In 2004, Clark suffered a stroke that nearly ended his broadcasting career. Though he managed to sporadically come back for his annual New Years Eve specials, Clark eventually passed away at the age of 82 from a heart attack in 2012, leaving behind a legacy unlike any other. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi