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TV legend Dick Clark dies of heart attack at 82

Washington, Thu, 19 Apr 2012 ANI

Washington, Apr 19 (ANI): Dick Clark, the creator of "American Bandstand" and "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve," died Wednesday morning. He was 82.

Clark suffered a massive heart attack after entering St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica on Tuesday night for an outpatient procedure, his family revealed in a statement.

Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Clark had suffered a stroke in 2004, which forced him to significantly curtail his hosting of 'New Years' Rockin' Eve,' a show he created in 1972.

Long dubbed as "the world's oldest teenager" because of his boyish appearance, Clark bridged the rebellious new music scene and traditional show business, and was equally at ease whether chatting about music with Sam Cooke or bantering with Ed McMahon about TV bloopers.

He long championed black singers by playing the original R and B versions of popular songs, rather than the popular pop cover.

Ryan Seacrest, who took over main hosting duties on the New Year's countdown show from Clark after years of working beside the legend, said in a statement on Wednesday that he was "deeply saddened."

"I idolized him from the start, and I was graced early on in my career with his generous advice and counsel," Seacrest said.

"He was a remarkable host and businessman and left a rich legacy to television audiences around the world. We will all miss him."

Clark thrived as the founder of Dick Clark Productions, supplying movies, game and music shows, beauty contests and more to TV.

Among his credits are 'The 25,000 dollars Pyramid,' 'TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes' and the American Music Awards.

But it was 'American Bandstand' for which Clark was best known.

The show was one of network TV's longest-running series, airing as part of ABC's daytime line up from 1957 to 1987.

Over the years, it introduced stars ranging from Buddy Holly to Michael Jackson to Madonna.

Clark joined "Bandstand" in 1956 after Bob Horn, who'd been the host since its 1952 debut, was fired. Under Clark's guidance, it went from a local Philadelphia show to a national phenomenon.

"I played records, the kids danced, and America watched," was how Clark once described the series' simplicity.

In his 1958 hit "Sweet Little Sixteen," Chuck Berry sang that "they'll be rocking on Bandstand, Philadelphia, P-A."

Clark endured accusations that he was in with the squares, with critic Lester Bangs defining Bandstand as "a leggily acceptable euphemism of the teenage experience."

In a 1985 interview, Clark acknowledged the complaints.

"But I knew at the time that if we didn't make the presentation to the older generation palatable, it could kill it," Clark had said.

"So along with Little Richard and Chuck Berry and the Platters and the Crows and the Jayhawks ... the boys wore coats and ties and the girls combed their hair and they all looked like sweet little kids into a high school dance," he said.

Clark's clean-cut image also survived a major music industry scandal. In 1960, during a congressional investigation of "payola" or bribery in the record and radio industry, Clark was called on to testify.

He was cleared of any suspicions, but was required by ABC to divest himself of record-company interests to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

The demand cost him 8 million dollars, Clark once estimated. His holdings included partial ownership of Swan Records, which later released the first U.S. version of the Beatles' smash "She Loves You."

Clark was born Richard Wagstaff Clark in Mount Vernon, N.Y., in 1929. His father, Richard Augustus Clark, was a sales manager who worked in radio.

Clark idolized his athletic older brother, Bradley, who was killed in World War II. In his 1976 autobiography, 'Rock, Roll and Remember,' Clark recalled how radio helped ease his loneliness and turned him into a fan of Steve Allen, Arthur Godfrey and other popular hosts.

From Godfrey, he said, he learned that "a radio announcer does not talk to 'those of you out there in radio land'; a radio announcer talks to me as an individual."

Clark began his career in the mailroom of a Utica, N.Y., radio station in 1945. By age 26, he was a broadcasting veteran, with nine years' experience on radio and TV stations in Syracuse and Utica, N.Y., and Philadelphia. He held a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University. While in Philadelphia, Clark befriended McMahon, who later credited Clark for introducing him to his future "Tonight Show" boss, Johnny Carson.

"There's hardly any segment of the population that doesn't see what I do," Clark had said in a 1985 interview.

"It can be embarrassing. People come up to me and say, 'I love your show,' and I have no idea which one they're talking about," he said.

He was honored at the Emmy Awards in 2006, and at that point he told the crowd that he had achieved his childhood dream of being in show business.

"I have accomplished my childhood dream, to be in show business. Everybody should be so lucky to have their dreams come true. I've been truly blessed," he had said. (ANI)


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