LOS ANGELES — Dick Clark stood as an avatar of rock ‘n’ roll virtually from its birth and, until his death Wednesday at age 82, as a cultural touchstone for boomers and their grandkids alike.
His identity as “the world’s oldest teenager” became strained in recent years, as time and infirmity caught up with his enduring boyishness. But he owned New Year’s Eve after four decades hosting his annual telecast on ABC from Times Square. And as a producer and entertainment entrepreneur, he was a media titan: his Dick Clark Productions supplied movies, game shows, beauty contests and more to TV, and, for a time in the 1980s, he boasted programs on all three networks. Equally comfortable chatting about music with Sam Cooke or bantering with Ed McMahon on “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes,” Clark had shows on all three networks for a time in the 1980s. Clark, who died of a heart attack Wednesday at a Santa Monica hospital, also was part of radio as partner in the United Stations Radio Network, which provided programs to thousands of stations.
“There’s hardly any segment of the population that doesn’t see what I do,” Clark told The Associated Press in a 1985 interview. “It can be embarrassing. People come up to me and say, ‘I love your show,’ and I have no idea which one they’re talking about.”
President Barack Obama noted the nostalgia. “More important than his groundbreaking achievements was the way he made us feel — as young and vibrant and optimistic as he was,” Obama said.
Clark bridged the new music scene and traditional show business. He defended pop artists and artistic freedom, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame said of the 1993 inductee. He helped give black artists their due by playing original R&B recordings instead of cover versions by white performers, and he condemned censorship.
“It still wasn’t acceptable for them to dance with white kids, so the blacks just danced with each other. We were waiting for the explosion, but it never happened,” Clark said in 1998. “The wonderful part about our decision to integrate then was that there were no repercussions, no reverberations, no battles at all — it just happened right there on a television screen in front of millions of people.”
Publsihed on Thursday, April, 19, 2012 as: 'American Bandstand' host dies