by Erika Cox
Dick Clark was born Richard Wagstaff Clark on November 30, 1929 in the Bronx, New York his family moved to Mount Vernon, NY were he was raised. He was an average student in school until he discovered radio. After he graduated from high school, Clark started working at a radio station owned by his uncle and managed by his father. At first he was only an office boy running errands and helping out but it didn’t take long before he began filling in doing commercial breaks and the weather.
Clark went on to college and majored in
advertising with a minor in broadcasting at Syracuse University.
During his senior year in college, Clark got a job with WOLF, a
country radio station and afterward, he finished college and went back
to his first radio station, WRUN, working under the name of Richard
Clay. He eventually got his first television job with the station and
changed his name to Dick Clark.
A local DJ, Bob Horn, aired a music video on a new television show, which he named Bandstand, then Horn started inviting teenagers to the show to dance while the records played.
Of course, the show became very successful and a hit with the teenagers. The new sounds of rock and roll along with the chance to dance live on a TV show, it couldn’t get much better for most teenagers.
At this time,
Clark had been hosting a similar program for another local radio
station when he was asked to fill in while Horn went on vacation. He
did, and in July 1956 his fill in became permanent when Horn was
arrested and charged with drunk driving.
He was not some threatening adult who tried to control what the teenagers did, he encouraged them and allowed the kids to pretty much dictate the show’s direction. It was a show for teenagers and it focused on teenage stuff, music, dances, and gossip.
After several years of success, the Bandstand went nationwide, and the name changed to American Bandstand. The show came on right after school was out, so it was perfect timing for kids to come home and tune into the show.
Rock and roll artists would perform on the show but the main focus at
that time was the teenagers. Clark was on a roll, he had a nationally
televised show that a success and in 1958, Clark got his own show the
Dick Clark show, which featured music artists.
In 1973, he produced the American Music Award Show, and hosted other TV shows in the 70’s, including the New Years Rockin’ Eve show in New York that he still host today. Clark was a businessman first of all, and although, he treated American Bandstand as a business, he treated the teenagers and the entertainers fair and was friendly to all of them.
Clark continues to host weekly radio programs despite his health
problems and the American Bandstand is now a restaurant in several
locations across the country. Clark made a large contribution to the
success of rock and roll and had some responsibility in making it
acceptable to mainstream America. Clark was inducted into the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Rewind the Fifties and all related Pages copyright 1997 - 2006