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Dick Clark, ‘Bandstand’ Put Philly On Cultural Map [VIDEO]

Dick Clark may have worked in bigger cities over the course of his long entertainment career, but it was his time in Philadelphia that made him a household name.

American Bandstand in the 1960s
American Bandstand in the 1960s (Facebook)

Clark, who died Wednesday at the age of 82, hosted the wildly popular “American Bandstand” show at WFIL-TV in west Philadelphia in the 1950s and `60s. It became a cultural touchstone for legions of teenagers eager to hear the newest pop music and see the latest dance craze.

PREVIOUS: Dick Clark Dies At Age 82

And though he later moved to Los Angeles and served as the longtime host of New York’s annual year-end festivities in Times Square, Clark never forgot his roots in the City of Brotherly Love, said Lew Klein, an early executive producer of the show that became an institution.

 

“He was a very loyal person and he never lost his appreciation for the good luck that Philadelphia gave him with the visibility of `Bandstand,”‘ Klein told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

They first met in 1952 when Klein, then a programming director, interviewed Clark for a job as a disc jockey in Philadelphia. Clark had recently graduated from Syracuse University and was “youthful, understood the music that was popular, (was) very articulate and extremely personable,” Klein said.

WFIL sign
Sign outside the old WFIL studios in Philadelphia (Wiki Takes Philadelphia, Wikimedia Commons)

Meanwhile, a local show called “Bandstand” began airing the same year on WFIL-TV. Klein moved Clark over to host the show in 1956, when original host Bob Horn was fired. The program made its national debut as “American “Bandstand,” according to president Della Clark. She is not related to Dick
Clark.

Outside, a historic marker tells the story of the show’s rise to national prominence, while memorabilia fills a conference room inside. Studio B, which is largely preserved and decorated with additional mementos, serves as a function room. There’s still a satellite dish on the roof, she said.

Della Clark said Wednesday that the building’s new mission seems appropriate considering Dick Clark’s successful business career: He produced shows including “The $25,000 Pyramid,” `’TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes” and the American Music Awards.

His death, she said, “reminded me of the stewardship responsibilities of keeping this flame alive in terms of the birthplace of `American Bandstand.”‘ Musicians with Philadelphia roots also praised Clark and his legacy.

John Oates, of the pop duo Hall & Oates, told the AP in an email that Clark was more than just the host of “American Bandstand.”

“With an understated on-air presence, he made the kids and their music the stars of the show,” said Oates. “His genius was in his ability to use the power of television to help define how American teenagers saw themselves

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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