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Dick Clark was a TV personality known for the shows American Bandstand, $25,000 Pyramid and TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes, among others.
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Dick Clark’s American Bandstand began in 1957 and continued until 1989. The program's mix of lip-synched performances and its "Rate-a-Record" segment captivated teenagers, propelling Clark to fame. Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, the long-running special broadcast that aired on December 31 each year, began in 1972, and he created numerous other shows over the years.
Sometimes known as "America's oldest teenager," Dick Clark was one of the most influential figures in popular music. With his show American Bandstand, he helped advance the careers of countless artists, including Paul Anka, Barry Manilow and Madonna.
Born Richard Wagstaff Clark on November 30, 1929, he was the son of a sales manager for radio stations. Clark decided he wanted to pursue a career in radio in his early teens. While in high school, he suffered a great personal loss. His older brother Bradley was killed during World War II. As the war was ending, he began his career in show business. The teenager landed a job in the mailroom of radio station WRUN in 1945. Located in Utica, New York, the station was owned by his uncle and managed by his father. The young Clark was soon promoted to weatherman and news announcer.
After graduating from A. B. Davis High School in 1947, Clark went to Syracuse University. There he majored in business administration and landed a part-time job as a disc jockey at the student-radio station at the university. He also worked at radio and television stations in Syracuse and Utica before moving to WFIL radio in Philadelphia in 1952.
WFIL had an affiliated television station (now WPVI) which began broadcasting a show called Bob Horn's Bandstand in 1952. Clark was a regular substitute host on the popular afternoon program, which had teenagers dancing to popular music. When Horn left the show, Clark became the full-time host on July 9, 1956.
Largely through Clark's initiative, Bandstand was picked up by ABC as American Bandstand for nationwide distribution, beginning on August 5, 1957. The program's mix of lip-synched performances, interviews, and its famous "Rate-a-Record" segment captivated teenagers. Overnight, Clark became one of pop music's most important tastemakers. His exposure on American Bandstand, and his prime-time program, The Dick Clark Show, generated countless hits.
Clark required a formal dress code of dresses or skirts for girls and coats and ties for boys that helped establish the show's wholesome appearance. The move was an early indication of Clark's innate ability to read the public's mindset, and mute potential criticism. When African-Americans were introduced among the white teenage dancers in a groundbreaking move of integration on national television, Clark was able to use his influence to stifle divisive talk amongst viewers.
During the 1950s, Dick Clark also began investing in the music publishing and recording business.
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