Dick Clark, who ushered in the rock and roll era on television where he was a fixture for five decades, died this afternoon (Apr. 18) after suffering a heart attack. He was 82.
Clark apparently suffered the heart attack while he was in St. John’s Hospital in Los Angeles for outpatient medical treatment, according to gossip site TMZ.com.
The television impresario, who host American Bandstand on television during the early dawn of rock and roll and later became known for his Rockin’ New Year’s Eve Specials and the American Music Awards, had been in unsteady health for some time.
Remembering a Legend in Rock and Roll
“I knew Dick through my father, and always found him a tough negotiator, but the ultimate music man. I had Debbie Gibson hosting his AMAs years later and it was a great reunion. He always had great people around, Larry Klein and Barry Glazer. A huge, huge loss” — David Salidor
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“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dick Clark. He has truly been one of the greatest influences in my life.” — Ryan Seacrest
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“Dick Clark was one of those unique talents. No one in the rock era has boosted more careers than Dick did on American Bandstand. Plus, there would never have been an American Music Awards without Dick.” — Tom Cuddy,former head of WPLJ in New York
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“REST IN PEACE to the DICK CLARK!! U were pioneer n a good man!! Thank u sir” — Snoop Dogg
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“Rest in peace, Dick Clark. Thank you for the countless memories. You will be missed.” — Janet Jackson
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“We truly lost a #legend today w/ the passing of Dick Clark. It’s so indescribably massive what he’s done for the music & TV industry..” — Paula Abdul
He suffered debilitating stroke in 2004 that forced him to retire as host of “New Years’ Rockin’ Eve.” But he made a gallant recovery and made special appearances on the show up until this year. He’s speech, however, was markedly slurred.
It was revealed at the time of his stroke that he also suffered from Type-2 diabetes. He was diagnosed in 1994, but kept the illness a secret.
The photogenic Clark started his career on radio. He began working in the mailroom of a local radio station while he was still in high school in 1945. He was eventually promoted to a news announceer.
His first big break came in 1952, when he landed at WFIL, a radio and affiliated television station in Philadelphia.
He found his calling when was allowed to substitute host a local teen dance show called “Bandstand.” He bacame the full-time host in 1956, just as the rock and roll era was starting to sweep the nation.
His second big break came when ABC picked up the show, renamed it “American Bandstand,” and broadcast it nationally. He had an eye for talent. One of his first guests was a rising young singer named Elvis Presley.
Clark made a fortune when he syndicated the show and it aired until 1989, finally ending its run on the USA Network.
He was a workaholic throughout his career, yet was called “America’s Oldest Teenager” because he had such a baby face. Clark also hosted a Top 40 radio countdown show and the game show “Pyramid.”
He also served as chairman and chief executive of Dick Clark Productions, which produced the American Music Awards and other special productions.
Clark was married three times and is survived by three children. He is survived by his current wife Kari Wigton.