Dick Clark: Chaperone to generations of music-loving teens
It seems inconceivable that Dick Clark -- eternally youthful, frightfully busy Dick Clark -- has died. It's as if, through some cosmic foul-up, Death did not get the memo excusing him from such a mortal distraction.
More than the bare recitation of his on-screen and behind-the-screen credits would suggest -- he was a television personality, the host of a dance party, of game shows (most notably of the “Pyramid” franchise, over some 15 years) and of a series called “TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes” -- he was a force not only in the history of the medium, but of the culture at large.
Indeed, what made him compelling was the way the dual strands of his nature and his businesses combined in the person you saw on screen, entertainer and executive, agent of fun and serious businessman. He was an adult involved in childish things.
Often called “America's Oldest Teenager,” he retained his thick-maned, white-smiled, boyish looks into an age that visibly crumpled his peers into senior citizenry. And yet, even in the days when pop music was his daily bread -- even in the earliest days, when he looked not much different from the kids that crowded around him on the “Bandstand” set -- he never came across as a kid.
There was always a poise about him, a pressed quality that a cyclone could not ruffle. You felt that he wouldn't break a sweat on a summer's day in the Sahara. But he rarely seemed stiff.
As a sideline, he occasionally appeared in dramatic roles in episodic television series, including “Lassie,” “Adam-12” and “Perry Mason,” in which he played a killer. He played one again in a film he co-wrote, “Killers Three,” from 1968. I don't want to read too much into that, but I find it not uninteresting.
You can't rate a life as you could a record, but one would say, after all, that this one had a good beat.