Television legend Dick Clark has died of a heart attack at the age of 82.
Clark was a prolific television host, helming game shows such as “Pyramid,” the famous variety show “American Bandstand” and of course “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” which has been a New Year’s television staple for 40 years.
Born in Mount Vernon, New York, Clark first gained national attention as the host of “American Bandstand,” which made the jump from a local Philadelphia station to ABC in 1957.
“New Years Rockin’ Eve” first appeared on NBC in 1972, moving to ABC in 1974, where it has remained ever since. Clark has led the countdown to the new year every December 31, with the exception of 2004, when he was recovering following a stroke.
Leading that New Year’s countdown was incredibly important to Clark, as he recounted in a 1999 interview:
“The key is, it is very nice to be welcomed into people’s celebrations,” Clark said. “Though we are probably wallpaper in the background for a lot of people, when that five minutes to midnight hits, it is for all the people, counting down with you.”
Clark was also a prolific television producer through his production company Dick Clark Productions. DCP was particularly adept at producing live events and awards shows. Among the events it produced over the years: the Golden Globes, the American Music Awards, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Miss Universe Pageant and the Daytime Emmy Awards.
His influence on the music business is hard to quantify, but it is undeniably massive. Scores of artists got their big break on “American Bandstand.” The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame credited Clark with helping to mainstream R&B music by playing original recordings by African American artists, rather than covers by white performers. Clark was inducted into the Hall in 1993.
“Only God is responsible for making more stars than Dick Clark,” said singer and entertainer Tony Orlando, in an interview with CNN.
Clark effectively handed over the reins of his media empire to Ryan Seacrest following his stroke. Seacrest took over as the host of the long-running radio countdown show “American Top 40,” as well as Clark’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”
“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,” wrote Seacrest in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
In a statement, New York City Mayor and Bloomberg LP founder Mike Bloomberg praised Clark for making Times Square an international destination:
“Times Square is considered the crossroads of the world in no small part because Dick Clark’s New Years Eve celebrations there were beamed across the globe,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Generations of Americans grew up with Dick, and yet he seemed forever young.”