TV Host Dick Clark Dies at 82

'American Bandstand' Host Moved From Music to Game Shows to Perch on New Year's Eve

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Dick Clark, the "American Bandstand" host who entranced America's teenagers on TV while never seeming to age noticeably himself, has died at the age of 82.

Dick Clark, circa 1961
Dick Clark, circa 1961
Mr. Clark, who hadn't performed full hosting duties on his longtime News Year's Eve special since a stroke in 2004, was killed by a heart attack, according to various press reports that quoted Paul Shefrin, Mr. Clark's spokesman.

Mr. Clark, whose bright eyes and baby face belied his true age, continued to appear on "New Year's Rockin' Eve" in recent years, at least to say a few words, even though the stroke dramatically impacted his ability to speak.

His best-known role, however, was hosting "American Bandstand," a music program that proved popular in an era when teens could not access their favorite songs with a simple download or pass along audio files from emerging artists in viral fashion. Teens on the show -- which started in 1952 in Philadelphia, where Mr. Clark was a radio host -- would dance while TV cameras followed, then pause to rate a record. The oft-lampooned phrase "It's got a good beat and I can dance to it," emerged when Mr. Clark would ask his young fans why they liked a particular tune.

Dick Clark was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., in 1929, and started working in radio during his teenage years, filling in on odd jobs at an upstate New York radio station that was owned by his father and uncle, according to a report from ABC News. He continued to work in radio while attending Syracuse University, where he served as a disc jockey at the student radio station. He graduated in 1951, returning to the family radio station.

Within a year, he moved to WFIL in Philadelphia, where he hosted a program called "Dick Clark's Caravan of Music." Soon thereafter, he was hosting "Bandstand," an afternoon program aimed at teens.

ABC took the show national by 1957, calling it "American Bandstand." And Mr. Clark became known as "America's Oldest Teenager."

Mr. Clark also found success as a producer. Among the programs launched by his Dick Clark Productions company were "The $25,000 Pyramid," "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes" and "The American Music Awards." The company was sold in 2007.

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