On April 18, Reuters News reported that television icon Dick Clark passed away at age 82, the result of a heart attack. Sometimes referred to as the "world's oldest teenager," Clark's influence continues to be felt through Dick Clark Productions (dcp), the company that produces such shows as "So You Think You Can Dance" and the "Golden Globes Awards."
Clark's name had become so legendary in the 1990s that it even was a running joke on "Saturday Night Live" for a time. A recurring sketch featured comedian David Spade as a snarky receptionist who was the first line of defense at Dick Clark Productions. In one memorable bit, Jesus (Phil Hartman) arrives at dcp to see "Richard Clark," but he's deflected by Spade's unflappable receptionist.
Though his name quickly evolved into a brand, the ever-youthful television host was at his most influential and engaging when he was simply being Dick Clark. The entrepreneur spent over 30 years in front of the camera as host of "American Bandstand." Clark helped grow the show into a national phenomenon that continued through the 1980s. He never became too big or self-important to leave the show, though.
In those pre-Internet days, this Saturday morning music/dance program put the spotlight on up-and-coming musical talent. Through the decades, Clark's guests on the show ran the gamut from James Brown to Wang Chung. As an interviewer, Dick Clark was never too cloying or annoying. He simply talked one-on-one with the talent while the cameras were rolling, showing his own love of music.
The television icon had that every-man quality, especially when he was sharing the spotlight with Ed McMahon on "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes" a weekly series that evolved from a series of popular one-shot specials. Clark would often invite popular television personalities to come on and introduce the clips showing their flubs and goofs. The idea was to celebrate the human side of TV stars instead of simply making fun of them.
Unlike the in-your-face humor of "Jackass" and "Punk'd," the pranks executed on celebrities on this show truly were practical. Clark's gags were often complicated and typically involved several "accomplices" to pull them off.
Those of us who didn't have a date for New Year's Eve also could count on Mr. Clark to keep us company at least until midnight. "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" became a tradition in many households, thanks in no small part to the personality of the genial host. Even a stroke couldn't keep him away from his hosting duties permanently.
With the passing of Dick Clark, we've lost a favorite uncle and a big brother who introduced many of us to the joys of long-playing albums and 45's. Clark was one-of-a-kind and will be sorely missed.