LOS ANGELES (MCT) — Dick Clark, the youthful-looking television personality who literally introduced rock ’n’ roll to much of the nation on “American Bandstand” and for four decades was the first and last voice many Americans heard each year with his New Year’s Eve countdowns, died Wednesday. He was 82.
Clark died after suffering a heart attack following an outpatient procedure at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, according to a statement by his longtime publicist, Paul Shefrin. Clark’s health had been in question since a 2004 stroke affected his speech and mobility, but that year’s Dec. 31 countdown was the only one he missed since he started the annual rite during the Nixon years.
With the exception of Elvis Presley, Clark was considered by many to be the person most responsible for the bonfire spread of rock ’n’ roll across the country in the late 1950s. “Bandstand” gave fans a way to hear and see rock’s emerging idols in a way that radio and magazines could not. It made Clark a household name and gave him the foundation for a shrewdly pursued broadcasting career that made him wealthy, powerful and present in American television for half a century.
Nicknamed “America’s oldest teenager” for his fresh-scrubbed look, Clark and “American Bandstand” not only gave young fans what they wanted, it gave their parents a measure of assurance that this new music craze was not as scruffy or as scary as they feared.
Buttoned-down and always upbeat, polite and polished, Clark came across more like an articulate graduate student than a carnival barker.