Dick Clark, producer, New Year's Eve host and former host of pioneering music show American Bandstand, died today at the age of 82 following a "massive heart attack," according to ABC News.
A former DJ at Philadelphia's WFIL, Clark first gained prominence in 1956 as host of American Bandstand, the music performance show featuring teenagers dancing to Top 40 hits. The show became one of television's biggest successes and featured the first televised appearances of Madonna, The Jackson 5 and many others. Clark hosted the show for 33 years before ending the show in 1989.
In 1972, Clark produced and hosted the first Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, which has since become an annual tradition. Ryan Seacrest co-hosted the show with Clark every year since 2005. "America's oldest teenager" suffered a stroke in 2004, impairing his speech, but the icon returned to New Year's hosting duties in 2005.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dick Clark. He has truly been one of the greatest influences in my life," Seacrest said in a statement. "I idolized him from the start, and I was graced early on in my career with his generous advice and counsel. When I joined his show in 2006, it was a dream come true to work with him every New Year's Eve for the last six years. He was smart, charming, funny and always a true gentleman. I learned a great deal from him, and I'll always be indebted to him for his faith and support of me. He was a remarkable host and businessman and left a rich legacy to television audiences around the world. We will all miss him.”
"We lost an icon today," added friend Carson Daly, who considered Clark a mentor. "I will always cherish the personal time we had together. I am forever indebted to Dick Clark and his legacy. My heart goes out to his family.”
Clark, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee whose work has netted multiple Emmys, spent his life in show business. As a teenager, Clark worked in the mailroom of upstate New York radio station WRUN, working his way up to announcer before DJing at his college radio station at Syracuse University. Within five years of hosting American Bandstand, the show went national and launched Clark as a music icon.
As ABC reports, "American Bandstand's formula was simple. Clean-cut boys and girls danced to the hottest hits and the newest singles. In between, Clark chatted with the teens, who helped 'rate-a-record,' turning songs into sensations. Everyone showed up on American Bandstand: from Elvis Presley to Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry to Chubby Checker."
As a television producer, Clark produced such hits as $25,000 Pyramid, TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes and American Music Awards. According to ABC, The Museum of Broadcast Communications has estimated that Dick Clark Productions has produced more than 7,500 hours of television programming, including 250 specials.
He is survived by his three children and third wife Kari Wigton.
Dick Clark Interview with Michael Jackson, American Bandstand