By Michelle Durham, Dave Madden, Todd Quinones
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Television and radio personality Dick Clark died Wednesday at the age of 82 following a massive heart attack. A number of people from the Philadelphia area knew Clark as a “friend” and are mourning his loss.
Clark first rose to prominence back in the 1950s as host of “American Bandstand.” The afternoon dance show first aired in Philadelphia before going nationwide.
Local singer and former teen idol Bobby Rydell’s first appearance on “American Bandstand” was in the summer of 1959.
Rydell said Dick was the first person to put him on network television. It started his career.
PHOTOS: Dick Clark Through The Years
After learning the news of Clark’s passing, Rydell says he lost a friend.
“He really was,” said Rydell. “Anything I needed, all I had to do is give Dick a call and he would be right there.”
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The cultural icon went on to start Dick Clark Productions which produced thousands of hours of television – everything from game shows like “Pyramid” to talk shows and awards shows. In 1974, Clark started New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. He hosted every show except one.
“His wife named me Checker. She put the Checker on the Chubby. I’ve known this man so and we’ve been very close. I miss him very much,” Chubby Checker said.
Chubby Checker, speaking outside his home in Paoli, recalled the last time he saw Dick Clark in September.
“He changed my life because the way we dance on the dance floor today happened on American Bandstand. It happened with me,” Checker said.
Della Clark now runs a business development company at 46th and Market Streets where the first American Bandstand shows where broadcast from. The halls are lined with iconic images from the golden age where American music was forged with television.
“This is the birthplace,” said Clark. “This the studio where American Bandstand got started. It really was the hopes and dreams of young people who wanted to hit it big in the music world.”
Bill Wright, Sr., also known as “The Rebel Wright” from the Philly’s WIBG also known as Wibbage, knew Clark and said he once asked him to emcee an event in his old hometown.
When he tried to compensate him, Wright said, “He took the check out of my hand and tore it in two pieces and said ‘Bill, thanks for having me.’ I’ll never forget it. He was such a generous and wonderful guy and I’ve known him for years and I will sorely miss him.”
Listen As Dave Madden Remembers Clark’s Life And Career:
WOGL Music Director Tommy McCarthy also knew Clark well. He worked at his nightclub, American Bandstand Grill in King of Prussian, and hosted the 40th and 50th American Bandstand anniversary shows which aired on PBS.
“Dick Clark, Philadelphia icon and music legend will live on in the hearts and minds of Philadelphians for years to come. He was an inspiration to me and many others, not just due to his success in the industry, but also because of how he lived his daily life,” said McCarthy. “He was a good, clean, wholesome guy who loved what he did and made millions of people happy in the process.”
For people who knew him, Dick Clark was a music television pioneer who opened the doors for so many others to follow.
“He made rock and roll fashionable,” said Jerry Blavat.
Former CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric shared this message:
“Dick Clark was such an institution and inspiration. Not ashamed to say I loved American bandstand when I was a kid!”
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