Iconic television star and producer Dick Clark, whose youthful looks and vigor gained him the nickname "America's Oldest Teenager" as he built an "American Bandstand" gig into an entertainment empire, has died of a heart attack, his publicist confirms to TheWrap. He was 82.
In six decades in broadcasting, Clark hosted series ranging from the game show "Pyramid" to "TV"s Bloopers and Practical Jokes" to "New Years' Rockin' Eve." His Dick Clark Productions also produced the Golden Globes awards telecast.
Known for his catchphrase "For now, Dick Clark... so long!" he continued to appear on the New Year's celebration even after handing off hosting duties to Ryan Seacrest following a massive stroke in 2004.
Since starting the celebration in 1972, he missed out on hosting only twice: In 1999/2000, when ABC replaced the special with turn-of-the-century coverage, and after the stroke in 2004/2005.
"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.
Born Nov. 30, 1929, he began his broadcasting career after graduating high school, working at WRUN-AM radio in Rome, N.Y., a station run by his uncle and father. He quickly moved from office duties to delivering the weather and delivering station breaks. He moved to the Philadelphia area in 1952 and joined TV and radio station WFIL, which had just latched onto the new trend of playing pop and rock records on-air.
After filling in for Bob Horn, who hosted a TV show that featured teenagers dancing to the records, Clark assumed hosting duties in 1956. The show went national the next year, exposing Americans to such rock legends as Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. It ran in syndication and later on USA until 1989.
Clark, who kept his roots in radio by counting down top 40 hits for decades, began hosting the first of many versions of "Pyramid" in 1973. In 1984, he began collaborating with his former Philadelphia neighbor, Ed McMahon, on "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes," which featured outtakes and celebrity pranks.
He hosted several other game shows -- sometimes at the same time -- while also popping up as himself in films and TV shows including "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," and "Dharma and Greg."
From 2001-03, he was one of the panelists on "The Other Half," serving as a male counterpart to Barbara Walters on the show intended as a male answer to "The View."