• Big Screen alerts

Dick Clark, "America's oldest teenager," is floating high as a cloud on the heavenly bandstand. The game show host, shrewd TV mogul, blooper-wrangler, American Bandstand overlord, multifunctional celebrity, and master at ushering in the new year, died yesterday after suffering a heart attack. He was 82.

My earliest memories of Dick Clark are irrevocably linked to my late cousin, Ruth Sherman. Ruthie was not only my occasional Saturday morning babysitter, she also fit the Bandstand demographic and never missed an episode of the popular teen dance show.

I was four, and the thought of watching a bunch of spasmodic, well-oiled teenyboppers at a televised sock-hop over the animated offerings of another network didn't mesh. This was long before the remote control became a standard part of the viewing experience, and after a few cautionary slaps to my channel-switching wrist, Ruthie would give me a comic book and lock me in the living room closet for the duration of the hour.

Needless to say, I was forever turned off by the show, and my knowledge and appreciation of Dick Clark is limited to his post- American Bandstand days. He was seldom the reason for my tuning in -- who needs Dick Clark when you have JoAnne Worley and Nipsey Russell going head-to-head on The $10,000 Pyramid? -- but his constant state of forced-cheer and pre-Alex Trebek aura of sincere insincerity kept things moving along at a brisk clip.

Clark hosted five different incarnations of Pyramid (ranging from the $10,000 to $100,000 version), but the true force of his genius didn't impact me until TV's Blooper and Practical Jokes hit the airwaves in the early '80's. Recycling TV's garbage by turning it into a "blooper" show was Clark's masterstroke of genius.

Each week Dick and his equally unctuous co-host, Ed McMahon, would introduce clip after clip of celebrities embarrassing themselves while tape rolled. For those too challenged to figure out the show's basic premise, there was Clark's condescending dubbed-in narration advising viewers to, "Watch the upper-left corner of the screen" just in case they were too dim to notice the horsefly about to buzz up the news anchor's nostril. It was television at its finest.

In the mid-'60's, his production company, Dick Clark Productions, bankrolled a few grindhouse releases, most notably two Richard Rush biker/psychedelia pictures (Psych-Out and The Savage Seven). Clark recognized his shortcomings and soon receded to safer, more profitable TV fare like Lou Rawls: Soul on Ice, The Tempestt Bledsoe Show, and numerous awards programs including two dozen Golden Globes telecasts.

While other deejays were content to countdown stacks of wax, Clark turned counting backwards from ten into a lucrative holiday tradition. He produced and hosted Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, which began in 1972. He missed out on his hosting duties only twice in the show's nearly 40 year history.

In 1999, Clark's annual ball drop was preempted by ABC 2000 Today, a news special hosted by Peter Jennings. Clark made a brief appearance to ring in the new year. Ryan Seacrest took over hosting chores in 2004 after Clark was sidelined by a stroke.

Clark's subsequent appearances made for uncomfortable viewing, particularly in light of the party atmosphere that surrounded him. His ability to speak was greatly impaired and something tells me the remote segments were taped in advance to ensure that there were no bloopers when the show aired live. He wouldn't step down. He couldn't. Even if his appearances were brief and kept to a minimum, it was a way to remain in the spotlight.

Dick Clark leaves behind his third wife, Kari Wigton; three children, Richard, Duane and Cindy; and two grandchildren.

For now, so long, Dick Clark!

  • Big Screen alerts

Comments

conanthequasilibertarian April 19, 2012 @ 10:37 a.m.

Are outtakes from a blooper show ironic, or something else?

0

Scott Marks April 19, 2012 @ 12:41 p.m.

I never thought about it, but by golly you're right.

0

anniej April 19, 2012 @ 10:38 a.m.

Dig a Hole??????????????????????

Your sensitivity is overwhelming - NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

0

Scott Marks April 19, 2012 @ 2:07 p.m.

I could have said Alava shalom, but I don't think Dick was a Yiddishe kop.

0

Colonna April 19, 2012 @ 10:50 a.m.

My mother grew up watching "Bandstand" - she shocked me last night when she said the show began to suck in the 1970s. I asked why: "Color TV and that lame Barry Manilow "Bandstand" theme song".

Dick, you graced the cover of a seminal punk rock album cover as a Nazi. You opened the floodgates for countless, meaningless award shows when you created The American Music Awards in 1973, just because ABC lost the "Grammy" telecasts.

And then, the capper. Michael Moore tried to talk to you about a woman who was killed at a restaurant bearing your name in "Bowling For Columbine" (the 7:08 mark):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL0Jh6MHFEM

Rest in peace, Dick. No embalming needed!

0

Scott Marks April 19, 2012 @ 5:52 p.m.

This is outrageously tasteless, Nan. Isn't it too early?

Wait...

Now it's okay. AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

0

nan shartel April 19, 2012 @ 6:10 p.m.

ur nuts about the Stooges...how tasteless is that

i liked Dickie....and loved watching Bandstand when i was young...he was the first to showcase many unknown entertainers...Madonna 4 one

0

John71471 April 19, 2012 @ 9:48 p.m.

Dick and Ed: Together Again. I actually worked for the guy who told Dick (or said that he did) that he should move American Bandstand from Philadelphia to L.A. I met Dick once during my tenure with that company and, well...if you can't say anything nice...

0

Sign in to comment

Join our
newsletter list

Enter to win $25 at Broken Yolk Cafe

Each newsletter subscription
means another chance to win!

Close