Clark performing the 2009 New Years Countdown.
|Born||Richard Wagstaff Clark
November 30, 1929
Mount Vernon, New York, U.S.
Game show host
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Mallery (1952–1961, divorced)
Loretta Martin (1962–1971, divorced)
Kari Wigton (since 1977)
Richard Wagstaff "Dick" Clark (born November 30, 1929) is an American businessman; game-show host; and radio and television personality. He served as chairman and chief executive officer of Dick Clark Productions, which he has sold part of in recent years.
Clark has long been known for his departing catchphrase, "For now, Dick Clark...so long," delivered with a military salute, and for his youthful appearance, earning the moniker "America's Oldest Teenager", until he had a stroke in late 2004.
With some speech ability still impaired, Clark returned to his New Year's Rockin' Eve show on December 31, 2005/January 1, 2006. Subsequently, he has appeared at the Emmy Awards on August 27, 2006, and every New Year's Rockin' Eve show since then.
On November 30, 2009, disc jockeys throughout the nation paid tribute to Clark on his 80th birthday.
Clark was born in Mount Vernon, New York, where he was raised, the son of Julia Fuller (née Barnard) Clark and Richard Augustus Clark. His only sibling, older brother Bradley, was killed in World War II.
His career in show business began in 1945 when he started working in the mailroom of WRUN, a radio station owned by his uncle and managed by his father in Utica, New York. Clark was soon promoted to weatherman and news announcer.
His first television-hosting job was on the Cactus Dick and the Santa Fe Riders, a country-music program. He would later replace Robert Earle (who would later host the GE College Bowl) as a newscaster.
In 1952 Clark moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and took a job as a disc jockey at radio station WFIL. WFIL had an affiliated television station (now WPVI) with the same call sign which began broadcasting a show called Bob Horn's Bandstand in 1952. Clark was a regular substitute host on the show and when Horn left, Clark became the full-time host on July 9, 1956. The show was picked up by the ABC television network and was first aired nationally on August 5, 1957, and renamed American Bandstand, where Clark interviewed Elvis Presley.
Clark also began investing in the music publishing and recording business in the 1950s. In 1959, the United States Senate opened investigations into "payola", the practice of music-producing companies paying broadcasting companies to favor their product. Clark was a shareholder in the Jamie-Guyden Distributing Corporation, which nationally distributed Jamie and other non-owned labels. Clark sold his shares back to the corporation when ABC suggested that his participation might be considered as creating a conflict of interest. In 1960, when charges were levied against Clark by the Congressional Payola Investigations, he quietly divested himself of interests and signed an affidavit denying involvement. Clark was not charged with any illegal activities.
Unaffected by the investigation, American Bandstand was a major success, running daily Monday through Friday until 1963, then weekly on Saturdays until 1987. In 1964, the show moved from Philadelphia to Hollywood, California. A spin-off of the program, Where the Action Is, aired from 1965 to 1967, also on ABC. Charlie O'Donnell, a close friend of Clark's and an up-and-coming fellow Philadelphia disc jockey, was chosen to be the announcer, which he served for ten years. O'Donnell was one of the announcers on the 1980s versions of Clark's Pyramid game show; he continues to work with Clark on various specials and award shows.
Clark produced American Bandstand for syndicated television and later the USA Network, a cable-and-satellite-television channel, until 1989. Clark also hosted the program in 1987 and 1988; David Hirsch hosted in 1989, its final year.
In 1972 Clark produced and hosted Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, the first of an ongoing series of specials still broadcast on New Year's Eve. The program has typically consisted of live remotes of Clark in Times Square in New York City, New York, counting down until the New Year ball comes down. After the ball drops, the focus of the program switches to musical segments taped prior to the show in Hollywood. The special is live in the Eastern Time Zone, and it is delayed for the other time zones so that they can ring in the New Year with Clark when midnight strikes in their area.
ABC broadcast the event on every New Year's Eve since 1972 except in 1999 due to the airing of ABC 2000 Today, news coverage of the milestone year hosted by Peter Jennings. However, during that broadcast Clark, along with ABC's Jack Ford, announced his signature countdown to the new year as a correspondent, according to the transcript of the broadcast released by ABC News. Ford had been assigned to Times Square during the broadcast and thus Clark's role was limited. However, Clark won a Peabody Award for his coverage.
In the more than three decades it has been on the air, the show has become a mainstay in U.S. New Year's Eve celebrations. Before then, Guy Lombardo (a.k.a. "Mr. New Year's Eve"), along with his big band orchestra, the Royal Canadians, had long been the main draw for New Year's Eve broadcasts for radio and, later, for television (on CBS). Watching the ball in Times Square drop on Clark's show is considered an annual cultural tradition for the New Year's Eve and New Year's Day holiday.
At the end of 2004 Clark was unable to appear on the program while recovering from his stroke; Regis Philbin substituted as host. The following year Clark returned to the show although Ryan Seacrest served as primary host. Ever since 2005, Dick Clark has co-hosted his New Year's Rockin Eve with Seacrest.
Before Pyramid, Clark had two brief runs as a quiz-show host, presiding over The Object Is and then Missing Links. In a near twist of irony, on Missing Links, he replaced his former Philadelphia neighbor and subsequent TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes co-host, Ed McMahon, when the game show switched networks from NBC to ABC; NBC replaced Missing Links with Jeopardy!.
Clark later became host of The $10,000 Pyramid, which premiered on CBS March 26, 1973 (the same day as The Young and the Restless). The show — a word association game created and produced by daytime television producer Bob Stewart — moved to ABC from 1974 to 1980, during which time the top prize was upgraded to $20,000. After a brief 1981 syndicated run as The $50,000 Pyramid, the show returned to CBS in 1982 as The $25,000 Pyramid, and continued through 1988, save for a three month break. From 1985 to 1988, Clark hosted both the CBS $25,000 version and a daily $100,000 Pyramid in syndication.
His daytime versions of Pyramid won nine Emmy Awards for best game show, a mark that is eclipsed only by the eleven won by the syndicated version of Jeopardy!. It also won Clark three Emmy Awards for best game show host.
Clark would return to Pyramid as a guest in later incarnations. During the premiere of the John Davidson version in 1991, Clark sent a pre-recorded message wishing Davidson well in hosting the show. In 2002, Clark played as a celebrity guest for three days on the Donny Osmond version.
Clark also had a long stint as a top-40 radio countdown show host. He began in 1963, hosting a radio program called The Dick Clark Radio Show. It was produced by Mars Broadcasting of Stamford, Connecticut. Despite his enormous popularity on American Bandstand, the show was only picked up by a few dozen stations and lasted less than a year. The show proved to be ahead of its time, becoming one of the earliest attempts at radio syndication.
He hosted one episode of American Top 40 in 1972, substituting for Casey Kasem. Several years later, Clark would become one of AT40's most enduring rivals. In 1981, he created The Dick Clark National Music Survey for the Mutual Broadcasting System, which counted down the Top 30 contemporary hits of the week, in direct competition with American Top 40. After he left Mutual in 1986, he turned over National Music Survey duties to Charlie Tuna, and took over hosting duties of another show, Countdown America, whose previous host John Leader had left to create yet another similar program, Countdown USA. By the 1990s, Clark hosted U.S. Music Survey, which he hosted up until his 2004 stroke.
On February 14, 1982, he launched a weekly weekend radio program distributed by his own syndicator, The United Stations Radio Networks. It was a four hour oldies show entitled Dick Clark's Rock, Roll, and Remember (named after his 1976 autobiography). At first, the program was co-hosted by Los Angeles radio veteran Mark Elliot, with he and Clark alternating segments. By 1985, Clark hosted the entire show which was written and produced by Pam Miller. After his 2004 stroke, United Stations began re-issuing old episodes of Rock, Roll, and Remember to affiliates, and these reruns continue.
On December 17, 2008, Clark announced that he would merge the production of Rock, Roll, and Remember with Rewind with Gary Bryan, a syndicated program hosted by Los Angeles radio personality Gary Bryan. The new show is entitled Dick Clark Presents Rewind with Gary Bryan. Bryan serves as host, while Clark contributes profile segments. The move effectively ended the run of Rock, Roll, and Remember. However, Clark still continues to syndicate the hundreds of shows produced between 1982 and 2004 to terrestrial and satellite radio stations.
At the peak of his American Bandstand fame, Clark also hosted a thirty-minute Saturday night program called The Dick Clark Show (aka The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show). It aired from February 15, 1958, until September 10, 1960, on the ABC television network. It was broadcast live from the "Little Theater" in New York City and was sponsored by Beech-Nut Gum. It featured the rock stars of the day lip synching their hits, just as on American Bandstand. However, unlike the afternoon Bandstand program which focused on the dance floor with the teen age audience demonstrating the latest dance steps, the audience of The Dick Clark Show (consisting mostly of squealing girls) sat in a traditional theater setting. While some of the musical numbers were presented simply, others were major production numbers. The high point of the show was the unveiling with great fanfare at the end of each program, by Clark, of the top ten records of the coming week. This ritual became so embedded in popular culture that to this day it is satirized nightly by David Letterman.
In the 1986 comedy-drama Peggy Sue Got Married, Kathleen Turner's character after being transported back to the spring of 1960 is supposedly watching American Bandstand on television. The clip used in the movie, however, is actually of the Dick Clark Saturday night show, because the teen age audience is not dancing but sitting in a theater. In addition, members of the audience were wearing the "IFIC" buttons based upon the Beech-Nut Gum advertising slogan of the late 1950s ("It's FlavorIFIC"). Beech-Nut sponsored the Clark Saturday night show but never sponsored American Bandstand.
From September 27 to December 20, 1959, Clark hosted a thirty-minute weekly talent/variety series entitled Dick Clark's World of Talent at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday nights on ABC. A variation of producer Irving Mansfield's earlier CBS series, This Is Show Business (1949–56), it featured three celebrity panelists, including comedian Jack E. Leonard, judging and offering advice to amateur and semi-professional performers. While this show was not a success, during its nearly three month duration, Clark was one of the few personalities in television history on the air nationwide seven days a week.
Clark has been involved in a number of other television series and specials as producer and performer. One of his most well-known guest appearances was in the final episode of the original Perry Mason TV series ("The Case of the Final Fadeout") in which he was revealed to be the killer in a dramatic courtroom scene.
In 1973, he created the American Music Awards show, which he produces annually. Intended as competition for the Grammy Awards, in some years it gained a bigger audience than the Grammys due to being more in touch with popular trends.
In 1984, Clark produced and co-hosted with Ed McMahon the NBC series TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes. The series ran through 1988 and continued in specials hosted by Clark (sometimes joined by another TV personality) into the 21st century, first on NBC, later on ABC. Clark and McMahon were longtime Philadelphia acquaintances, and McMahon has praised Clark for first bringing him together with future TV partner Johnny Carson when all three worked at ABC in the late 1950s. The "Bloopers" franchise stems from the Clark-hosted (and produced) NBC "Bloopers" specials of the early 1980s, inspired by the books, record albums and appearances of Kermit Schafer, a radio and TV producer who first popularized outtakes of broadcasts.
For a period of several years in the 1980s, Clark simultaneously hosted regular programs on the 3 major American television networks: ABC (Bandstand), CBS (Pyramid) and NBC (Bloopers) and in 1993, he hosted Scattergories.
In 1990 and 1991, he hosted the syndicated television game show The Challengers, which only lasted for one season. In 1999, along with Bob Boden, he was one of the executive producers of Fox's TV game show Greed, which ran from November 5, 1999, to July 14, 2000, and was hosted by Chuck Woolery. At the same time, Clark also hosted the Stone-Stanley-created Winning Lines, which ran for six weeks on CBS from January 8, 2000 – February 12, 2000.
From 2001 to 2003, Clark was a co-host of The Other Half with Mario Lopez, Danny Bonaduce, and Dorian Gregory, a syndicated daytime talk show intended to be the male equivalent of The View. Clark also produced the television series American Dreams about a Philadelphia family in the early 1960s whose daughter is a regular on American Bandstand. The series ran from 2002 to 2005.
He made a brief appearance in the 2002 documentary film Bowling for Columbine. He was criticized for hiring poor, unwed mothers to work long hours in his chain of restaurants for little pay. The mother in particular works over 80 hours per week and is unable to make rent and gets evicted which results in her having her son stay at his uncle's house. At his uncle's house the boy finds a gun and brings it to school where he shoots another first grader. In the documentary footage featuring Mr. Clark, Michael Moore tries to approach him to inform him of the welfare policies that allow for these conditions and questions him about the people he employs and the tax breaks he takes advantage of employing welfare users; in response, Clark refuses to answer any of Mr. Moore's questions, shutting the car door and driving off.
Clark also appeared in interview segments of another 2002 film, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which was based on the "unauthorized autobiography" of Chuck Barris. (Barris had worked backstage on Clark's American Bandstand as a standards-and-practices person.)
In the 2002 Dharma and Greg episode "Mission: Implausible", Greg is the victim of a college prank and comes up with an elaborate plan to retaliate. Part of the plan involves his use of a disguise kit, and the first disguise chosen is Dick Clark. During the fantasy sequence showing the unfolding of the plan, the real Clark plays Greg wearing his disguise.
He also made a brief cameo in two episodes of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In one episode he plays himself at a Philadelphia diner and in the other he helps Will Smith's character show bloopers from past episodes of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
In 2003, it was revealed that Clark had Type 2 diabetes, and on December 8, 2004, he was hospitalized in Los Angeles after suffering what was initially termed a minor stroke. Clark's spokeswoman, Amy Streibel, said that he was hospitalized but was expected to be fine.
However, on December 13, 2004, it was announced that Clark would be unable to host his annual New Year's Rockin' Eve broadcast, that had aired for all but one year since 1972 (in 1999, New Year's Rockin' Eve was preempted with the Peter Jennings-hosted ABC 2000 Today though Clark did perform his traditional countdown). For the 2004 show, Regis Philbin was the substitute host, and during the show on December 31, 2004, he gave his best wishes to Clark.
While having not been seen in public anywhere since his stroke, on August 15, 2005, Clark announced in a statement that he would be back in Times Square for the annual tradition, bringing on Hilary Duff and Ryan Seacrest as co-hosts and Seacrest as co-executive producer. Also in the press release, it was announced that Seacrest would eventually take over as the sole host should Clark decide to retire as the host on the program.
On December 31, 2005, Clark made his return to television, returning to the Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve broadcast, having noticeable difficulty speaking, slurring his famous countdown to the new year. During the program, Clark remained behind a desk, and was shown only in limited segments. On-air, he said, "Last year I had a stroke. It left me in bad shape. I had to teach myself how to walk and talk again. It's been a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect but I'm getting there." Before counting down to 2006, he mentioned he "wouldn't have missed this (the telecast) for the world."
Reaction to Clark's appearance was mixed, reported CNN.com. While some TV critics (including Tom Shales of The Washington Post, in an interview with the CBS Radio Network) felt he was not in good enough shape to do the broadcast, stroke survivors and many of Clark's fans praised him for being a role model for people dealing with post-stroke recovery.
Clark also appeared on the 2006 Emmy Award telecast on August 27, 2006. He was introduced by Simon Cowell, after the show paid tribute to his successful career that has spanned decades. He was shown seated behind a lectern, and although his speech was still slurred, he was able to address the audience and introduce Barry Manilow's performance.
For the ABC New Year's Eve 2007–08, 2008–09 and 2009-2010 appearances, Clark still exhibited noticeably slurred and somewhat breathless speech (which appear to be permanent), but improved from previous years, in addition to using his arms again. For the 2008–09 broadcast, he increased his hosting duties to the point where he split duties roughly evenly with Seacrest during the half-hour leading up to the ball drop. For the 2009-2010 countdown show, he spoke with improved verbal expression, as well as improved head and arm dexterity, but incorrectly counted down, counting "...14, 12, 10, 11, 10, 9..." In previous years following the stroke, Clark had only hosted the countdown and one brief segment.
Clark has a stake in a chain of music-themed restaurants licensed under the names "Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grill", "Dick Clark's AB Grill", "Dick Clark's Bandstand — Food, Spirits & Fun" and "Dick Clark's AB Diner". There are currently four airport locations in Indianapolis, Indiana; Newark, New Jersey; Phoenix, Arizona; and Salt Lake City, Utah, one location in the Molly Pitcher travel plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike in Cranbury, New Jersey, and one location at "Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater" in Branson, Missouri.
"Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater" opened in Branson in April 2006. A new theater and restaurant called "Dick Clark's American Bandstand Music Complex" opened in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in June 2007. In October 2007, since nearby residents complained about the outside concerts performed at the new complex, it has been emptied of its contents and the box office closed temporarily. It will be reopened in 2009 with new renovations for indoor concert performances.
In the basement of the "Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater" in Branson is "'57 Heaven," which boasts "...the world's largest collection of 1957 automobiles and memorabilia showcased in Hometown America." The exhibit also recreates a drive-in movie, gas station, barbershop, car dealership, service station, motel and a typical 1950s home. Closed as of 2009, all cars sold.
Clark has been married three times. His first marriage was to Barbara Mallery in 1952; the couple had one son, Richard A. (named after his father), and divorced in 1961. He married Loretta Martin in 1962; the couple had two children, Duane and Cindy, and divorced in 1971. Since July 7, 1977, Clark has been married to Kari Wigton.
Before his stroke, Clark's continuous youthful appearance drew attention to the point of becoming a subject of jokes in other forms of comedy entertainment and popular culture, most notably his famous nickname of "America's Oldest Living Teenager".
Clark has received the following awards:
He is also an inductee at various hall of fame locations:
|Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host
|Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host
|Miss USA host
|Miss Universe host