by Samantha Lowell
Dick Clark, a fixture on American TV and radio for half a century, has died at 82. The TV icon succumbed to a heart attack following an outpatient procedure in St. John’s hospital in Los Angeles. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful his representative said in a press release.
Richard Wagstaff “Dick” Clark was born November 30, 1929 and got his start in radio in the 1950s. Clark was long known for his departing catch phrase, “For now, Dick Clark…so long,” delivered with a military salute, and for his youthful appearance, earning the moniker “America’s Oldest Teenager.”
Clark got his first big break in 1956, hosting what was then called “Bob Horn’s Bandstand”, later to be renamed “American Bandstand.” Clark continued to host and produce “American Bandstand” until 1989, introducing audiences to acts who would become some of the most legendary in pop music. Clark built a small empire for himself in the entertainment industry and was uniquitous on American tv screens for decades, hosting game shows such as Pyramid and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.
In 2004 he suffered a severe stroke which significantly affected his speech. Though he never recovered, visibly impaired but smiling Clark appeared at the Emmy Awards in 2006, and returned to his New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show in cameo appearances in 2005, though by then he had been largely replaced by Ryan Seacrest as co-host.
The gregarious Clark was well liked by his peers, but even more respected as an enterpreneur. “Music is the soundtrack of your life,” he was quoted as saying, and yet, he was always far more interested in the smooth running of the production than the joy of music. “I don’t make culture,” he once said. “I sell it.” It was typical of Clark’s drive that he only missed one broadcast of his New Year’s Eve show from 1974 until his death. Clark ran a chain of restaurants and produced various shows until he finally sold Dick Clark Productions for $137 million in 2001, though he remained as chairman and chief executive.
Clark had been in failing health for the past several years. He is survived by his third wife, Kari Wigton Clark, and three children. No funeral or memorial plans have been announced at press time.
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