On This Day: Legendary Radio & TV Personality Dick Clark Dies in 2012

by Jennifer Shea
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Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ATI

On April 18, 2012, the legendary radio and television host Dick Clark died of a heart attack at age 82. He passed away at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California the day after he underwent an outpatient procedure.

Clark was most famous for “American Bandstand” and “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” But he also founded Dick Clark Productions. It went on to produce movies, game shows, music shows, beauty pageants and other television programs. Clark also launched the American Music Awards after ABC lost the broadcast rights to the Grammy Awards, according to CBS News.

Called “the world’s oldest teenager” due to his youthful face, Clark became the permanent host of “American Bandstand” on July 9, 1956, per Biography.com. He soon got ABC to acquire the program for national distribution. And it quickly rocketed to popularity among the teenage demographic.

During the next decade, “American Bandstand” switched from black and white to color and moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. It provided a launchpad for some of the major music stars of the next three decades, including Janis Joplin, the Jackson 5, the Talking Heads and Prince.

Dick Clark Was Most Involved in Radio in Television

Meanwhile, Dick Clark Productions can count among its creations the Academy of Country Music and Golden Globe Awards. And Clark became an author of self-help books such as “Dick Clark’s Program for Success in Your Business and Personal Life.”

But Clark’s life was not without its share of scandal. In the 1950s, his business interests had expanded to record companies, song publishing houses and artist management groups. In the 1960s, a congressional committee began investigating what came to be known as the “payola” scandal. It concerned airplay in exchange for payment. Clark told Congress he hadn’t realized that performers in which he had business interests were getting outsized play on his programs.

Clark survived the scandal. But ABC asked him to divest himself of his recording interests to clear himself of any potential conflicts of interest. The move cost him an estimated $8 million, according to CBS News.

Clark’s Later Years Were Dotted With Health Problems

In 1994, Clark revealed that he’d been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. So he became a spokesman for the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

In December of 2004, Clark suffered a stroke that left him with slurred speech. He subsequently retreated from the public eye, per Biography.com. But he kept working behind the scenes. And he continued to appear on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” a decision that many stroke survivors hailed as brave.

Clark married three times over the course of his life. He had two sons, Richard Augustus II and Duane, and a daughter, Cindy.

Outsider.com