According to Carson Daly, “We lost an icon” when Dick Clark passed away of a heart attack at 82. Really? An icon? At 82?
He had a stroke in 2004, sold his ownership of Dick Clark Productions in 2007, and since then, has been generally aging gracefully. But as a kind gentleman told me last week, I “don’t know Dick.”
Well, of course not. Who did? (And why was he so angry about it?)
When news came down about Clark’s death, my co-worker announced it to another, who promptly asked “Who?”
Apparently, she didn’t know Dick either.
But she did know Ryan Seacrest and his New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. Seacrest not only inherited the 37-year-old show from Clark, he has become the Clark of today’s generation.
Dick Clark started out in radio at 17, and after getting his business degree, dove into television with a passion. He talked ABC into airing his little known Bandstand show across the country. He realized his career would have more longevity behind the scenes, so he started producing programs, too.
Ironically, he still hosted American ¬Band¬stand for 37 years, followed by the $25,000 Pyramid and TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes well into his 60s.
This was a man ahead of his time. Bloopers was the forerunner of both Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d and the onslaught of YouTube mistakes caught on camera.
Imagine the impact on dance and rock ‘n roll had he not brought it into American homes five days a week.
Without the respectability of his jacket and tie, parents wouldn’t have trusted America’s oldest teenager and many of their kids’ gyrations would still be limited to the basement. Sure, Ed Sullivan allowed Elvis the Pelvis to perform from the waist up. But Dick Clark let the kids get their groove on – and decide what songs would be hits.
So even if you don’t know Dick, you were affected by him.
In 1973, he created the American Music Awards, setting the bar for numerous other awards shows that Dick Clark Productions would produce.
He was a details guy. Although Clark was known to actually schedule a meeting to start 17 minutes after the hour and run for no more than 12 minutes, he was generous in his knowledge.
And Clark never became irrelevant because he listened. At 76, he co-produced a new little show called So You Think You Can Dance. Yes, definitely an icon.
Seacrest has called him “one of the greatest influences in [his] life.” No doubt. Seacrest started in television, expanded to include radio, and now is the executive producer behind such programming as Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and the Kardashian series. Sound familiar?
Yup. He definitely knew Dick.
And Dick knew us. He made us dance, laugh and get together around a TV. And television wouldn’t be the same today without him.
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