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Dick Clark dies at 82; he introduced America to rock 'n' roll

The music impresario whose 'American Bandstand' put rock music in the mainstream was also known to millions as a New Year's Eve tradition.

April 19, 2012|Geoff Boucher, Los Angeles Times

Regardless, ABC, knowing the value of "Bandstand," told him to either sell off his conflicting business holdings or the show. Clark opted to keep his core job.

Clark's radio life was submerged but returned years later after the business landscape had been altered. In 1981 he partnered with radio executive Nick Verbitsky to form a company called United Stations, and its flagship program would be "Dick Clark's Rock, Roll and Remember," an oldies show that would last more than two decades on the air.

That incarnation of United Stations did not fare as well as Clark's radio show and was in mothballs by the 1990s. He and Verbitsky tried again in 1994 and, after acquisitions, mergers and partnerships, the United Stations Radio Networks now bills itself as the nation's largest independently owned and operated radio network and provides programming in one form or another to 4,000 stations.

After "Bandstand," Clark's most famous stage mark might be in Times Square, where he helped ring in a new broadcast tradition in 1972. Until then, the most notable broadcasting fare for the New Year's holiday was CBS' broadcast from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, where Guy Lombardo and his orchestra would celebrate with ballroom dancing and their signature rendition of "Auld Lang Syne."

"It was terribly boring to me," Clark told Newsday in 2003. "I wanted to make New Year's Eve a little more contemporary and exciting." The result was the ABC show that played to younger rhythms. The show retained Clark's name, but in recent years Ryan Seacrest was the host.

Clark's admiration of Arthur Godfrey prompted several forays into the variety show genre, but it proved to be a tough arena with several short-lived ventures. He did score a success with "The Donny and Marie Show" in the 1970s, which made the Osmond brother-and-sister team national stars.

Clark's business holdings continued to be a variety show of a different sort. The desire to expand his imprint never flagged. Not only did Clark's love of New York theater tug him into the role of a Broadway producer, his fondness for Krispy Kreme doughnuts prompted him to badger the company's leadership until he was granted the franchisee rights in Britain and Ireland. He is the credited author or co-author of no less than a dozen books, among them guides to music, grooming and diet.

In 2004, he added a different sort of spokesman role when he acknowledged publicly that a decade earlier he had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. That appearance was part of Clark's new role as a famous face for a public-awareness campaign sponsored by the American Assn. of Diabetes Educators and Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical giant.

Clark is survived by his wife, Kari Wigton Clark, whom he married in 1977. He is also survived by his children from two previous marriages, sons Richard and Duane and daughter Cindy.

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geoff.boucher@latimes.com

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