Former Television Host Larry King Remembers Clark As 'Revolutionary'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Dick Clark, who brought Times Square into the homes of countless millions every New Year’s Eve, died Wednesday afternoon at the age of 82.

Clark entered a Santa Monica, Calif., hospital on Tuesday night for an outpatient procedure, but suffered a massive heart attack, according to a statement from his publicist. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

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The television icon was also being remembered by some big names in the industry, including Larry King and Ryan Seacrest.

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“I would call him a revolutionary — as a man who wanted to do everything in the business, who got to do what he wanted to do,” King told 1010 WINS’ Kyle McMorrow on Wednesday night.

King described Clark as someone who was “never overbearing” and “never show businessy.”

“He was — the only way to say it — he was Dick Clark,” King said.

Clark  is survived by his wife, Kari, and children RAC, Duane and Cindy, his publicist said.

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Seacrest , who has co-hosted Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in recent years, released the following statement Wednesday, saying he was “deeply saddened by the loss” of his dear friend:

“He has truly been one of the greatest influences in my life. I idolized him from the start, and I was graced early on in my career with his generous advice and counsel. When I joined his show in 2006 , it was a dream come true to work with him every New Year’s Eve for the last 6 years. He was smart, charming, funny and always a true gentleman. I learned a great deal from him, and I’ll always be indebted to him for his faith and support of me. He was a remarkable host and businessman and left a rich legacy to television audiences around the world. We will all miss him.”

When asked who could potentially be the next Dick Clark, King responded saying “Ryan Seacrest is the obvious follow-up to Dick Clark. If there is a next Dick Clark, it’s Ryan Seacrest.”

President Barack Obama also noted the nostalgia.

“More important than his groundbreaking achievements was the way he made us feel — as young and vibrant and optimistic as he was,” Obama said in a statement.

Richard Wagstaff Clark was born on Saturday, Nov. 30, 1929 in Bronxville, N.Y.

According to the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia (see full bio here), his parents Richard Augustus Clark, a radio station general sales manager, and Julia Barnard Clark nicknamed him “Young Dickie.” Less than four years later, the family moved to nearby Mount Vernon, New York. The group also claims that Kathryn Murray, wife of dancer Arthur Murray and a well-known performer in her own right, used to baby sit for Dick and his 5 year older brother, Bradley. She thought Dick Clark was ‘quite sassy and always into things.’

Clark attended A. B. Davis High School, now a middle school, the alma mater of numerous famous graduates including comedian/actor Art Carney, author of Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White and famed Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca.

Clark was involved in the business of Westchester even during his American Bandstand days.  He took over ownership of the former scandal-ridden 3,500-seat Westchester Premier Theatre in Greenburgh in 1978.

The theater opened in 1974 with star acts like Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.  After it was struggling to survive, federal investigators discovered an infusion of a $3 million loan from new partners – members of the Carlo Gambino crime family. Sinatra had been photographed backstage at the theater with Gambino.

After the theater went bankrupt in 1977, Clark took over the enterprise and renamed it The Dick Clark Westchester Theatre.  He stepped out after huge losses, blaming the astronomical fees charged by big-name acts. The recently-opened Stop & Shop supermarket now stands at that location, according to media reports.

Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest David said he anticipates there will be an outpouring of condolences in the wake of Clark’s death.

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“We are very proud of his accomplishments,” Davis told 1010 WINS.

Clark began his career in the mailroom of a Utica, N.Y., radio station in 1945. By age 26, he was a broadcasting veteran, with nine years’ experience on radio and TV stations in Syracuse and Utica, N.Y., and Philadelphia. He held a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University. While in Philadelphia, Clark befriended Ed McMahon, who later credited Clark for introducing him to his future “Tonight Show” boss, Johnny Carson.

He was not a musician, but Clark was a rock & roll idol, who was inducted in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for spreading the gospel of pop music.

Clark had continued performing even after he suffered a stroke in 2004 that affected his ability to speak and walk.

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As the host of “American Bandstand,” he brought music to millions of teenagers in the 1950s without alienating their parents.

“For the very first time in their lives, they’ve been able to look in on their children having fun doing what they like to do. They’ve finally got a common ground of understanding, so they can talk to one another for a change,” Clark said in 1958.

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Clark, dubbed “the world’s oldest teenager” because of his boyish appearance, became an entrepreneur and hosted several game shows and became a commercial pitchman.

Dick Clark Productions created thousand of hours of television, particularly awards shows, including the Golden Globes, the Daytime Emmy Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards.

In its more than 30 years on television, “American Bandstand” featured the greatest pop performers. Artists like James Brown and Stevie Wonder made their debuts on the show thanks to Clark, who ended the practice of using only white performers on television.

“It was revolutionary in that he had whites and blacks dancing together, which…shocked people — didn’t happen in the 50s. So Dick Clark broke ground,” King told 1010 WINS.


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