TV host Dick Clark, the nice older gentleman young people may remember as the man who hosts New Years Rockin’ Eve live from New York City annually, passed away on April 18th. Known as America’s oldest living teenager, the television idol was one of the most beloved figures in the music industry. Known for his humanitarian efforts and charitable work, the star celeb was an active senior citizen who battled his way back to health and speech after a debilitating stroke. To that end, he became a true American Idol — minus the singing.
Despite the fact that he was not famous for singing, dancing, or even acting, TV host Dick Clark (November 30, 1929 – April 18, 2012) will be remembered as one of the most important public figures in the entertainment industry. His modern-day equivalent is Ryan Seacrest — and what both men specialize in is hosting live television broadcasts while making stars and the viewing audience comfortable while on TV.
The original American idol died after suffering a massive heart attack Wednesday morning
He will be sorely missed in the coming years on the ABC network show Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve. His likely replacement, TV host Ryan Seacrest, emailed the following statement to the New York Daily News offering his friends, family, and all Americans condolences for their loss on April 18th:
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dick Clark. He has truly been one of the greatest influences in my life. I idolized him from the start, and I was graced early on in my career with his generous advice and counsel. When I joined his show in 2006 , it was a dream come true to work with him every New Year’s Eve for the last 6 years. He was smart, charming, funny and always a true gentleman. I learned a great deal from him, and I’ll always be indebted to him for his faith and support of me. He was a remarkable host and businessman and left a rich legacy to television audiences around the world. We will all miss him.”
Dick Clark rose to fame hosting American Bandstand, a music themed dance program that rose to the height of its popularity in the 60s and 70s. The hit show first aired in 1952. He hosted the show from 1956 until its final season in 1989. Clark was also the producer of the show through his company Dick Clark Productions.
A talented public speaker, he was a game-show host, radio and television personality, and businessman. Among his claim to fame were credits for creating television shows like The $25,000 Pyramid, ‘TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes and started the American Music Awards for ABC (after they lost the broadcasting rights to the Grammys).
No small name in Hollywood social circles, historians have even gone so far as to credit him with selling music to middle America in such a way that he actually helped create one of the most lucrative commodities of the late 20th century: the business commonly known as the Pop Music Industry as purveyors of Rock and Roll.
How he managed to stay so young-looking for so many decades has always been a mystery. “Mr. Clark was the perpetually youthful-looking television host of “American Bandstand,” says the New York Times, implying that his baby face was something of a medical mystery.
Well liked by nearly all who worked with him or who ever saw him on television, the WWII Generation member personified everything that was good about pop culture. He was well-known to all the Baby Boomers and even had a fan base with Gen X.
Nearly ageless until suffering a stroke that caused him to lose partial control of his face and affected his ability to speak clearly without slurring (due to a drooped mouth), he was truly the face of rock and roll — as well as the personification of every teen who grew up listening to popular music in modern time.
He was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Back in 2002, Clark hosted a special 50th anniversary edition of American Bandstand with one very special guest performer. Michael Jackson, the green celebrity who has been remembered by his friends and fans for his philanthropic deeds far more than any celebrity scandal his name was involved in, had been a frequent special guest performer on the show over the years. He performed Dangerous for Dick Clark to celebrate the memory of the program and Gen Y kids had an opportunity to learn a little bit of music history in the mix.
But Clark suffered a massive stroke in 2004 that took him out of the Hollywood limelight almost completely. For the first time, he had to abdicate his hosting duties for Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve.
Picking up the gauntlet of hosting the most popular music television shows of all time, Ryan Seacrest is the host of the American Idol television franchise. Clark recognized his talent early on and the ABC network hired him to help the celebrity senior anchor on New Years Eve — bringing Seacrest even more into the limelight.
But Clark only missed the 2004 show. After extensive physical therapy, he returned to co-host… and has been there with Ryan annually.
So, while three-quarters of Americans remember watching him on television while they were growing up, Gen Me kids only know Clark as the nice old man who was always so happy to be speaking to Americans across the country and sending them his New Years wishes.
But that’s okay — because in his final years, Dick Clark was such a positive role model for seniors and such a staunch supporter of Ryan Seacrest’s career that they have him to thank for not only the American Idol host being famous but also for their parents (hopefully) remembering how to age gracefully and with spirit as Baby Boomers and Gen X parents and grandparents enter their retirement years.
Clark was a brave and heroic stroke survivor who battled his way back to being able to speak, but he was not ever truly healthy. He had a history of heart disease and the star and his family openly confirmed he suffered with Type II Diabetes (the adult onset diabetes variety) in his final years.
Diagnosed in 1994, the celebrity senior used his star power wisely, serving as spokesman for the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
Dick Clark, rest in peace. If you loved the real American idol, please remember to hit LIKE, +1, and Share.