Dick Clark: Pop Culture Master
Tributes continue to pour in for Dick Clark, who died yesterday of a massive heart attack, at the age of 82. In many ways, it should not have been a shock. The iconic music and television producer had been of declining health since December 2004, when he was stricken by a devastating stroke. But when news of his passing broke yesterday, it just didn’t seem quite possible. The affable television host, with the easy smile and uncanny sense of pop culture — who maintained his boyish good looks and enthusiasm for decades — was gone…
His remarkable career spanned six decades. And I suppose that’s why so many of us felt as though we personally knew him. I didn’t know Dick Clark. I only met him once. But two stories stayed with me all day long. For any kid growing up in the 60′s and 70′s- “American Bandstand” was must-see-TV. In our home, it was the chance to check out the newest dance steps — and in today’s parlance– see what was “trending.” My dad had a strict rule about no loud music in the house. So, when my parents went out and my younger sister and I were babysat by our older siblings, up went the decibel level, and out came the new, imitated dance moves! Many a evening spent dancing on the fireplace hearth– hand held over the head– with a “score” given to “best dancer.” ( This was, of course, decades before “Dancing with the Stars” or “American Idol.”)
My other memory was the at “The American Music Awards.” The awards show was the innovation of Clark. This was the year Toni Braxton was on fire on the music charts. Marc Brown and I were co-hosting for ABC local a pre show special. Clark came up to talk to us before the broadcast. He seemed like a proud papa at the event, but also like an excited kid, regaling us with stories. Ms. Braxton was flaunting an especially revealing outfit, and though she rocked the look- there was concern, it might be a tad too revealing for the broadcast sensors. Clark laughed as he told the story, like a kid, really.. And I suppose, that’s also why we loved him.. his youthful charm was infectious ..
In his words.. ” Age ain’t got nothing to do with how old you are. ” – Dick Clark
” American Bandstand was the original reality show.” — Dick Clark