Dick Clark: From 'American Bandstand' to 'New Year's Rockin' Eve' [video]
Dick Clark, who died of a massive heart attack on Wednesday at age 82, left behind hundreds of hours of television footage from a lifetime of hosting. Though Clark didn't hold the record for having the most hours of his life broadcast on TV (that distinction goes to Regis Philbin), he was a reliable TV presence from the 1950s into the 21st century.
Although he made his TV debut as host of the country music program "Cactus Dick and the Santa Fe Riders" on a Utica, N.Y., television station in the mid-1950s, he didn't become a household name until "American Bandstand" began broadcasting nationally on ABC in 1957. (Previously, he had been fill-in host of the show, then called "Bob Horn's Bandstand" and broadcast only in Philadelphia).
The series ran weekdays until 1963 and then became a weekly show until 1987. Here's Clark opening the broadcast in 1966, two years after it moved from Philadelphia to Hollywood.
One of the signature moments of "American Bandstand" was Clark asking regular teens their thoughts on the newest music of the day. The cliched response, "I like it. It's got a good beat and I can dance to it" isn't far off the mark from what these teens say on this clip from 1978.
In 1973, Clark expanded from ABC to CBS to host daily game show "The $10,000 Pyramid." (This was his third attempt at hosting a game show.) The program went to ABC from 1974 to 1980, got adjusted for inflation ("The $20,000 Pyramid"), ran for a year in syndication ("The $50,000 Pyramid") and returned to CBS in 1982 as "The New $25,000 Pyramid," where it continued until 1988.
The premise involved celebrities teaming with regular folks to play a guessing game with words and categories. And one of the best celebrities at the game in those days was a young comic named Billy Crystal. This clip is Crystal's last appearance on the show in 1984, just as he was about to move to New York City to join the cast of "Saturday Night Live."
Clark kept the proceedings moving smoothly while still adding a human touch. (Note how he tells Crystal he wants to discuss "SNL" but "they" don't like him to do it at the start of the show.)
"TV's Blooper and Practical Jokes" began as a pair of TV specials before Clark began co-hosting a regular series with his old Philadelphia neighbor, Ed McMahon, in 1984. The series, which was a collection of TV outtakes and elaborate practical jokes played on celebrities, ran on NBC until 1986. Clark returned to host the show as a series of specials on ABC from 1991 until his stroke in 2004.
In this clip from the NBC incarnation, Clark and McMahon set up a joke played on fellow game show host, Alex Trebek.
Clark played the Barbara Walters elder statesman role on the talk show "The Other Half," a kind of male version of "The View," from 2001 to 2003.
The short-lived syndicated series also featured Danny Bonaduce, Mario Lopez and Dorian Gregory as the younger guys to Clark’s older, wiser guy. They discussed various “guy” topics of the day, just as "The View" caters to the female vantage point.
The clip below, featuring Chuck Woolery, should give you some indication why the series failed to find an audience.
Clark also served as producer of many award shows, including the American Music Awards and the Golden Globes. And though he was largely behind the scenes on these nights, his presence was always felt -- sometimes more strongly than others, such as at the Globes ceremony in 2001, when he had to come on stage to save a clearly befuddled Elizabeth Taylor from botching her presentation of the night's biggest award.
He slowed his career down dramatically after his 2004 stroke, but the one TV program he never gave up was the "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" special broadcast from New York's Times Square. He appeared almost every year between 1972 and 2011.
In recent years, Ryan Seacrest was brought in to do the heavy lifting, but an increasingly frail Clark was always there in the studio, counting down the moments until the big ball dropped.
Here's Clark's final broadcast, from New Year's Eve 2011, featuring Seacrest, Lady Gaga and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
— Patrick Kevin Day
Photo: Dick Clark with his wife, Kari, on Jan. 1. Credit: Ida Mae Astute / Associated Press.