Dick Clark ‘World’s oldest teenager’ dies of massive heart attack at 82
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Dick Clark, the famed television producer and host who helped bring rock ‘n’ roll into the mainstream on “American Bandstand” and rang in the New Year for the people at Times Square, died of a massive heart attack on Wednesday at his youthful age of 82. Spokesman Paul Shefrin said the entertainer had a heart attack on Wednesday morning at Saint John’s hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., where he had gone the day before for an outpatient procedure. Clark suffered a stroke in 2004, but continued to perform even though his ability to speak and walk was affected.
Clark, long dubbed “the world’s oldest teenager” because of his boyish appearance, began his career at the age of 17, working for his uncle’s radio station in New York as a disc jockey (DJ). Clark bridged the rebellious new music scene and traditional show business. He also took a brave step, in a time where the American nation was heavily segregated, and championed black singers by playing the original Rhythm and Blues versions of popular songs, rather than the pop cover. “American Bandstand” was the first televised show to showcase both black and white teenagers dancing together to popular music. The show was one of network TV’s longest-running series as part of ABC’s daytime lineup form 1957-1987. The show introduced stars ranging from Buddy Holly, to Gloria Gaynor, and Madonna. Clark joined “Bandstand” in 1956 after Bob Horn, who’d been the host since its 1952 debut, was fired. Under Clark’s guidance, “American Bandstand” went from local Philadelphia show to a national and historic phenomenon. “I played records, the kids danced, and America watched,” was how Clark once described the series’ simplicity.
Ryan Seacrest, who has been dubbed as the closest representation to Clark and who took over main hosting duties on the New Year’s Eve countdown show from Clark after the TV legend grew frail, said in a statement on Wednesday that he was “deeply saddened.” Seacrest said, “I idolized him from the start, and I was graced early on in my career with his generous advice and counsel. He was a remarkable host and businessman and left a rich legacy to television audiences around the world. We will all miss him.” President Barack Obama also issued a statement saying, “Michelle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of Dick Clark. With “American Bandstand,” he introduced decades’ worth of viewers to the music of our times. He reshaped the television landscape forever as a creative and innovative producer. And, of course, for 40 years, we welcomed him into our homes to ring in the New Year. But more important than his groundbreaking achievements was the way he made us feel – as young and vibrant and optimistic as he was. As we say a final “so long” to Dick Clark, America’s oldest teenager, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends – which number far more than he knew.”
Clark thrived as the founder of Dick Clark Productions, supplying movies, game and music shows, beauty contests and more. Among his credits are “The $25,000 Pyramid,” “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes,” and the American Music Awards. Clark leaves behind a legacy and will always be forever young.