Television personality Dick Clark dead at 82
Published Wednesday, April 18, 2012 10:25PM EDT
Television icon Dick Clark, the host of "American Bandstand" who went on to ring in the New Year with millions of television viewers for nearly four decades, has died. He was 82.
Clark's spokesperson, Paul Shefrin, confirmed that Clark suffered a heart attack at Saint John's hospital in Santa Monica on Wednesday morning, a day after undergoing an outpatient procedure at the facility.
He had been a mainstay of American living rooms for decades, first as the host of "American Bandstand" from 1957 to 1987, which introduced rock ‘n' roll to millions of teenagers.
The show earned him the nickname "America's oldest teenager," not only for his infectious enthusiasm for the music, but also for his boyish good looks.
Clark wasn't one to rest on his laurels, though. He started Dick Clark Productions, which created countless wildly successful programs for television. Those shows include "The $25,000 Pyramid," "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes," and the American Music Awards.
Clark may be best known to younger viewers for his iconic "New Year's Rockin' Eve," which he started in 1972.
"There's hardly any segment of the population that doesn't see what I do," Clark told The Associated Press in 1985.
"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."
Clark had suffered ill health in recent years, having suffered a stroke in 2004 that affected his speech and movement. "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest had taken over hosting the New Year's program, which broadcasts live from New York City's Times Square.
At the height of his popularity, Clark was credited with introducing the likes of Buddy Holly -- and much later, Madonna -- to his young viewers.
He took on the hosting duties at "Bandstand" in 1956, shepherding its rise from a local Philadelphia program to a national hit.
"I played records, the kids danced, and America watched," is how Clark described the show's success.
Born Richard Wagstaff Clark in 1929 in Mount Vernon, N.Y., he listened to the radio to ease the pain of the loss of his brother in World War II.
He graduated from Syracuse University and began his career in a local radio station mailroom, but by age 26 had a wide range of radio and television experience in both New York and Philadelphia when he took the "American Bandstand" job.
While he was known for introducing numerous acts to the masses, and praised for featuring music by black artists rather than the cover versions of their white counterparts, Clark's career was not without controversy.
He got caught up in the so-called "payola" scandal in 1960, which exposed bribery in the recording and radio industry. While Clark was cleared of any wrongdoing, ABC, the home of "Bandstand," compelled him to sell his record-company holdings to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Among other holdings, Clark had an ownership stake in Swan Records, which released the first U.S. version of the Beatles' hit "She Loves You."
Clark was married three times. He had a son, Richard Augustus II, with first wife Barbara Mallery. He had two children, Duane and Cindy, with second wife Loretta Martin. He married Kari Wigton in 1977.
With files from The Associated Press