"World's Oldest Teenager" Dick Clark, Dead at 82

Posted by Michael Mueller on April 18, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Dick Clark, one of the most influential shapers of modern pop music, died of a massive heart attack at a Los Angeles hospital on Wednesday (4/18). He was 82.

Dick ClarkAs host and producer of "American Bandstand," "American Top 40," and "New Year's Rockin' Eve," Clark was a major force in American pop and rock music for over half a century. As the founder of Dick Clark Productions, the man often called "the world's oldest teenager" for his boyish good looks also built an empire supplying movies, game shows, beauty contests, and more to television, including "The $25,000 Pyramid" and "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes."

During his tenure at "American Bandstand," Clark introduced generations of America's youth to stars ranging from Buddy Holly, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry to the Jackson 5, Janis Joplin, Talking Heads, and Madonna. Clark once described the show simply as "I played records, the kids danced, and America watched."

As "whitewashed" as the show could be at times, with the teenage dancers appearing in proper dress to help assuage  parents worried of the music's rebellious nature, Clark was also a supporter of artistic freedom and a staunch defender of censorship. He helped give black artists their due by playing original R&B recordings rather than cover versions by white performers, as was often done at the time.

In December 2004, Clark suffered a stroke, leaving him unable to usher in the New Year as he had done every year since 1974 on his show "Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve." Regis Philbin filled in on short notice for the 2005 show, but in 2006, Clark was back on the job, with Ryan Seacrest handling the lion's share of hosting duties. Even with his slurred speech,  it was not only heartwarming but just plain right that Clark was there to count down to each new year. He will be missed.

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