Legendary TV Host Dick Clark Dies at 82

Dick Clark, the legendary U.S. TV host, who helped bring rock ‘n’ roll into the mainstream on “American Bandstand,” and later produced and hosted a vast range of programming from game shows to the year-end countdown from Times Square on “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” has died. He was 82.

Hosts Ryan Seacrest and Dick Clark welcome in 2007 during Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2007 at the ABC Times Square Studios on January 1, 2007 in New York City. Photo: Eric Smith-Gunn/Flickr

Dick Clark, one of America’s best-known TV personalities and the longtime host of ABC’s annual “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” broadcast from Times Square in Manhattan, suffered a heart attack and died on Wednesday at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, publicist Paul Shefrin said, according to Reuters.

Dick Clark reportedly suffered the heart attack following the procedure and died after unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate him.

Clark had a history of health problems, reports The Huff Post. He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1994. In 2004 he suffered a stroke that forced him to retire as host of “New Years’ Rockin’ Eve”  for the first time since he launched the annual broadcast in 1972.

But he returned to the program the following year, and had continued since then to announce the annual countdown to midnight, despite his considerably slurred speech, and co-hosted with the much younger Ryan Seacrest of “American Idol” fame.

Born in New York state, Dick Clark began his career in show business in high school in 1945 when he started working in the mailroom of a local radio station.

He was hired at Philadelphia’s WFIL, filling in for regular host Bob Horn on “Bandstand,” then a local Philadelphia program.

In 1956, Clark became the full-time host and the show was picked up by ABC and renamed “American Bandstand.” On the first episode of the national installment of the show, Clark interviewed Elvis Presley.

Long called “the world’s oldest teenager” because of his boyish appearance, Clark bridged the rebellious new music scene and traditional show business, tells The Telegraph, and equally comfortable whether chatting about music with Sam Cooke or bantering with Ed McMahon about TV bloopers.

In addition to “American Bandstand” and “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” Clark also served as a Top 40 radio countdown host. He hosted five versions of the game show “Pyramid” since 1973, and served as chairman and chief executive officer of Dick Clark Productions, which he had sold part of in his final years.

“There’s hardly any segment of the population that doesn’t see what I do,” Clark told The Associated Press in a 1985 interview. “It can be embarrassing. People come up to me and say, ‘I love your show,’ and I have no idea which one they’re talking about.”

NBC introduced the prime-time drama “American Dreams” in 2002, which recreated “American Bandstand” as the backdrop for a series revolving around a teenage girl who dances on the show. Dick Clark was one of the producers of the show.

In 2004, Clark announced that he was shopping an updated version of “American Bandstand” to a number of networks for a debut in summer 2005. That project evolved into the Fox contest show “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Dick Clark was honored at the Emmy Awards in 2006, telling the crowd: “I have accomplished my childhood dream, to be in show business. Everybody should be so lucky to have their dreams come true. I’ve been truly blessed.”

A number of celebrities expresses their their sorrow at the passing of Dick Clark, according to People.

Ryan Seacrest, Clark’s co-host at ABC’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, paid tribute on Twitter. “I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dick Clark,” Seacrest Tweeted Wednesday afternoon after hearing of his mentor’s death.

“Just heard the news [about] Dick Clark,” Tweeted Mario Lopez. “It was truly an honor to have worked with him, learn from him and to be able to call him a friend. He was a great man and an even better friend.”

Denise Richards, David Boreanaz, CNN’s Don Lemon, Giada De Laurentiis and many others expressed their grief.

Kenny Rogers said in a statement: “I’m one of the lucky people who can say that I knew Dick Clark personally. Dick produced almost every awards show I was on during the 80’s, and he constantly encouraged me toward success. He will be missed by everyone – especially by those who knew him well.”

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