TV Icon Dick Clark Dead At 82
First Published: April 18, 2012 4:42 PM EDT Credit: Getty Premium
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Legendary television pioneer Dick Clark has died.
The star passed away of a massive heart attack on Wednesday morning, a rep for the TV legend confirmed to Access Hollywood on Wednesday.
Clark, who was known for hosting “American Bandstand” on television and “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” and the man behind Dick Clark Productions, was 82.
According to the rep, Clark “had entered St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica last night for an outpatient procedure. Attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful. He is survived by his wife Kari and his three children, RAC, Duane and Cindy.”
For over 60 years, Clark kept American entertained both in front of and behind the camera.
Easily one of the busiest men in show business, “America’s oldest living teenager” always planned for the day when he was no longer a young man.
“I knew the minute they stuck me in front of the camera or behind a microphone that that wouldn’t last,” he told Access during a 1997 interview. “I knew someday they’d say, ‘You’re too old.’ So the day I started being a ‘performer,’ I became a producer, so they day they didn’t want me in front of the camera, I could go behind.”
Clark quietly amassed a mega-million dollar empire, producing and hosting television programs from “American Bandstand,” to the Golden Globes to “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”
He wrote books, invested in record labels and even tried his hand at the restaurant business. But it was his days as the host of “American Bandstand,” for which he is best remembered.
Clark got his start in radio as a teenager, later landing a gig at a Philadelphia TV show called, “Bandstand.”
“It was the biggest break of my life,” he told Access. “I lucked out and I was pretty sure it was going to last a long time.”
An understatement – the local show soon became a national hit.
“All of a sudden everybody was saying, ‘Hi Dick!’ No matter where I went, they knew who I was,” he said.
It was the highlight of Clark’s career.
“I think I’ll always remember the very first time ‘American Bandstand’ went on the network for the first time. It had been a big success locally, but on August 5, 1957, it went on ABC,” he said. “[It was] an experiment for seven weeks – within four, it became the No. 1 daytime TV show. [It] could never be repeated. Yeah – I remember that one.”
Whether it was rating their records or introducing their live performances, Clark’s dance show sent many singers into the stratosphere, including Michael Jackson and Madonna.
“Everybody said, ‘Did you know she was a star?’ Yes,” Dick told Access. “I looked at audience reaction. She looked strange, no bustier or anything like that, but she was dressed strangely and the kids loved it.”
Clark was proud, not only of launching big acts, but of integrating his studio audience.
“The singular most important thing it did sociologically was put black kids and white kids in the same studio and let them dance and have fun and not kill each other,” he said.
With “Bandstand” under his belt, Clark set his sights on a production empire, to which he attributed his everlasting youth.
“The truth is, it’s dumb luck, and finding something you love to do. It puts the carrot in front of your nose,” he said.
Clark won three Emmys for hosting “Pyramid,” made us laugh with his “Bloopers & Practical Jokes” and even created the American Music Awards for ABC, after the network said good-bye to the Grammys.
“They needed another show and they called me and said, ‘What can you do?’ and I said, ‘Well, no one has ever asked people who buy records what they like, and that will be different,’” Dick recounted.
In his personal life, Clark was married three times and had three children. He credited his third and final wife, his assistant Kari, with organizing his life.
“We work together 24 hours a day. It is the sort of relationship you find once in a blue moon,” he said.
Kari was by his side as Clark battled Type 2 diabetes, a secret he kept for 10 years. Then, in December 2004, he suffered a stroke that left him unable to ring in the New Year as he had for 32 years on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”
But despite being left impaired from his stroke, Clark was back a year later to ring in 2006.
In the end, Clark never fully retired – just as he promised.
“At this stage of my life, everyone says ‘When are you going to quit?’ I’m not an overly religious man. I believe in God. He’ll tell me, ‘You gotta quit,’ by taking me away. That’ll be the day I’m either too sick or I drop dead in my tracks. I don’t want to stop. I’m having too much fun,” Clark told Access in 1997.
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