No Boomer can say that Dick Clark was not a part of their life. Most of us “met” him on the old black & white American Bandstand back in 1957. Just four hours ago (as of this writing) he passed away at the age of 82 following a heart attack.
Dick just went on forever. I mean, no matter what happened in the news, in the world; the civil rights movement, Vietnam, assassinations, social struggles… when Dick Clark showed up on radio or TV all was right with the world. I was not an avid Bandstand watcher although I would hang on that channel if a good song was playing. For me his presence affected me in two avenues. The first was his ability to be an “interesting” emcee. When I was growing up I was very interested in TV and radio broadcasting… the behind-the-scenes technical stuff. The boom operators, cameramen, and especially the control room with all the TV monitors and the director calling the shots.
When Dick was a game show emcee he would sometimes take a quick moment to explain to the audience something that might be going on behind the scenes. In effect, he was spontaneous and very “real”. There’s was nothing “plastic” about him. When doing the Pyramid shows he was an opposite of Allen Luden, the emcee predecessor to that show. In my mind Allen was “stuffy” and sometimes even scolded mildly to try and get excited celebrity guests back focused on the game. Dick was none of that. He was an entertaining and involved emcee. This carried over perfectly later on when he and Ed McMahon did the Bloopers shows. He would explain the behind-the-scenes of a given blooper scene rather than just let a blooper speak for itself.
The other aspect I enjoyed about Dick Clark was his radio show. He started standing in for Casey Kasem‘s Top 40 in the 70’s then went on to do his own Dick Clark National Music Survey which competed with Kasem. Both of those guys I enjoyed when I was in the military. Being a security cop in the Air force from 1971-1975 I had to man many secluded and lonely posts and those two guys kept me company on many a lonely evening away from home. Gazing up at the stars near the Arctic Circle (Iceland) I would listen on my “transistor” to the canned shows (they actually recorded those shows to vinyl records and then sent them to the radio stations to play) being played on the local armed forces radio station and like most GI’s, I dreamed of home. I particularly enjoyed the histories behind the music. Being from the Mid West I never heard of California’s Casey Kasem before so I tended to prefer listening to Dick Clark’s more familiar voice.
But all that was what us Boomers could see or hear. He was a huge media empire.. Dick Clark Productions produced over 7500 hours of programming, he owned restaurants, concerts, came up with the American Music Awards; a genius producer and businessman.
And another door from the Boomer past closes.
Thanks for the memories, Dick.