Dick Clark: Culture shaper, shrewd businessman
(CBS News) For half a century, Dick Clark was known as the face of "American Bandstand" and other TV shows. And of course, he led New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square for 40 years. But he was much more than a TV host. Clark helped shape the modern entertainment industry, and created countless musical careers and memories. He died Wednesday at a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., from a massive heart attack. CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason looked back at the career of the 82-year-old legend.
Dick Clark always saw himself as more of a businessman than a TV star.
"I don't make culture," he once said. "I sell it."
What he sold -- was rock 'n' roll.
As host of "American Bandstand" for more than three decades, Clark earned the nickname "America's oldest teenager."
In a 1985 interview with CBS News, Clark remarked, "The minute you grow up, the minute you mentally atrophy and freeze in time, you are old."
Clark was a Philadelphia DJ when he took over "Bandstand," a local TV show in 1956.
Within a year, Clark persuaded ABC to take it national.
"The notion that you would get rock 'n' roll every afternoon on television was mind-boggling," music journalist Fred Goodman says.
The former Rolling Stone writer says Clark's clean-cut image helped make parents feel safe with the new music. "It was the mainstreaming of rock 'n' roll in Dick Clark," Goodman said.
"I don't think there's anything mysterious about the younger generation," Clark told Edward R. Murrow on CBS' "Person to Person" in 1958. "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."
"Bandstand" helped Chubby Checker's "Twist" catch fire.
From the outset, Clark was not afraid to showcase black performers.
From the '50s through the '80s, Clark would introduce America to many of rock's biggest acts.
"Dick Clark was involved in the earliest exposure of the band," Kiss' Paul Stanley said.
He said in 2006 that Clark gave his band one of their first big breaks. "His contribution to American music and to rock 'n' roll and bringing it into the homes of America," Stanley said, "is immeasurable. He's the one who did it. He's Dick Clark."
Behind the smooth delivery was a shrewd businessman. Clark's company, Dick Clark Productions, created thousands of hours of television, including the Golden Globes and the Academy of Country Music Awards, and "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve," which he hosted.
Even after suffering a stroke in 2004, Clark continued to make appearances on the program to bid goodbye to the old year, but it was his "Bandstand" goodbye we may remember most.
"For now," he said simply, saluting viewers, "so long."
Clark was inducted into both the Television Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He may have only been trying to sell culture, but in doing so, he helped to shape it.
To see Anthony Mason's report, click on the video in the player above.
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