Dick Clark, an American Icon, died this morning. Dick Clark was a regular part of my adolescent years. He hosted American Bandstand. Bandstand originated in my home town--Philadelphia. The first host left in a cloud of scandal. Dick Clark took over and Bandstand went from Philadelphia Bandstand to American Bandstand.
When I was in junior high, some of the other girls and I decided we wanted to go on American Bandstand. We loved to dance, and certainly fame and fortune would come to us when we were 'discovered'. We didn't go to South Philly Catholic for Girls like most of the 'stars' on the show at that time. Shoot. We didn't even live in the city limits. We lived in a nice suburb and weren't even in high school. Our parents watched the show every day for a week (Bandstand was live TV --5 afternoons a week) before they allowed us to go on the show. We wrote for tickets and waited patiently. Then one of the mothers drove us to the studio, and she waited. We were told by our parents not to chew gum (oh yes, there were lots of cud chewing cows on the small screen), or to dance too close to any boy. They said, be sure he introduces himself politely before you accept a dance. They shouldn't have bothered. Not only wasn't this dancing class with white gloves, but the only boy who asked me for one dance was more interested in getting his face on camera than anything else. It wasn't the best experience, but it was an experience. And, I was only 13, so it was really cool. And, I did get to meet Dick Clark!
So I am sad today to learn that Dick Clark, who hardly changed over the years, passed away at the age of 82 of a massive heart attack. Dick Clark was known as "the world's oldest teenager." Responsible for introducing Rock 'n' Roll to much of the nation, he started as a DJ on radio. He hosted American Bandstand from the 50s through the 80s. Almost every major Rock and Roll Star appeared on the show. Artists Chuck Berry, Bill Haley and the Comets, James Brown, Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers had their national television debuts on "Bandstand." He introduced them all (although not Ricky Nelson or Beatles, something he was disappointed about). Dick Clark through Bandstand taught American teenagers around the country dances and music, 5 days a week.
Even if you weren't around for American Bandstand, you probably remember Dick Clark from the New Year's Eve Countdown--or maybe from the various game shows he hosted?
I'll always remember Dick Clark. "I give him an 82 (wish it had been more). I like the beat. I can dance to it!"