Dick Clark, the music industry maverick, longtime TV host and powerhouse producer who changed the way we listened to pop music with AMERICAN BANDSTAND, died today at the age of 82.
Clark's agent Paul Shefrin said in statement that the veteran host died this morning following a "massive heart attack."
Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on November. 30, 1929, Clark pursued his passion at Syracuse University, working as a disc jockey at the student-run radio station while studying for his degree in business. After graduating in 1951, Clark went back to his family's radio station, but within a year, a bigger city and bigger shows were calling.
Clark landed a gig as a DJ at WFIL in Philadelphia in 1952, spinning records for a show he called "Dick Clark's Caravan of Music." There he broke into the big time, hosting BANDSTAND, an afternoon dance show for teenagers. Within five years, the whole country was watching. ABC took the show national, and AMERICAN BANDSTAND was born.
When Dick Clark moved to Hollywood in 1963, "American Bandstand" moved with him. He started Dick Clark Productions, and began cranking out shows in all genre including $25,000 PYRAMID and TV'S BLOOPERS & PRACTICAL JOKES.
He produced the Daytime Emmy Awards seven times from 1981 to 2004.
DICK CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE on ABC became a December 31 tradition, with Clark hosting the festivities for more than three decades, introducing the entertainment acts and, of course, counting down to midnight as the ball dropped in New York's Times Square. But the traditional celebration saw a temporary stop in 2004, when Clark suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and struggling to speak. Regis Philbin stepped in. But by the next New Year's Eve, Dick Clark was back, his speech still impaired.
Clark, whose eternally youthful look earned him the nickname "America's Oldest Teenager", is survived by his three children and his third wife, Keri Wigton, married to him since 1977.
Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, issued the following statement on Dick Clark's passing:
"For more than half a century, Dick Clark brought the best of American music to audiences across the country, creating careers and countless fans for artists on his iconic shows, "American Bandstand" and "New Year's Rockin' Eve." We're proud that ABC was home to those programs and will always be part of his legacy. On behalf of everyone at Disney and ABC, we send our sincere condolences to Dick's family, as well as the three generations of fans who will miss him as much as we do."