Dick Clark was a television icon. He was the man behind American Bandstand, New Years' Rockin' Eve, Pyramid, and numerous other shows and productions. Our friend, game show announcer Randy West, recalls his memories of Dick Clark in this piece. Our thanks to Randy for providing his insight into a true entertainment legend.
Dick Clark’s talent as a broadcaster and producer was immense, and his contributions as a midwife in the birth of a new form of popular music are legendary. I worked with Dick on a couple of game shows as well as projects in development, and was a seat-filler at a few of his primetime specials. I saw his laser-sharp no-nonsense focus, and his uncanny ability to multi-task.
He'd drop in and out of a run-through of a game show format that was being worked on in his marvelously decorated ground floor office while voice-tracking his weekly radio show in a studio on the second floor. In the TV studio, I was most amazed at his ability to flawlessly bang out dozens of personalized promos - he had a clock in his head and an amazing knowledge of call letters, station slogans and even the names of news anchors at seemingly hundreds of affiliates.
Dick was amazingly natural and relateable as a host, with an innate sense of America's tastes. As a producer he knew where every dollar was going, from talent to tech to the donuts. As a businessman he was creative, resourceful and wildly successful, even back in the 1950s, branching into record publishing, artist management, record pressing plants and dozens of other synergistic music industry investments. And Dick was equally adept at charming audiences, network executives, and even the Senators who were investigating payola in 1960.
At a time when America's adults were concerned about rock and roll's effect on their impressionable kids, Dick's clean cut, well-spoken, humble persona lent an aura of safety that was in direct contrast to the other champions of the music, most notably Alan Freed and Bob Horn, the original host of Bandstand. He did so much to change the face of popular music.
Dick embodied professionalism and ambition. Yet he managed to remain accessible despite his incredible workload and multi-tasking schedule. Dick was never too busy for the fellow broadcasters and the dozens of recording artists who knew him as a loyal friend, and he quietly lent support to many of them in their time of need - Connie Francis and so many others.
He dedicated himself to long hours of rehabilitation following his stroke. His work to regain his speech, movement and strength, as well as his willingness to persevere both on camera and off, were inspirational. His long-time broadcasting partner Charlie O'Donnell was among the many friends he visited with, despite his limited mobility.
Dick's taping schedule of 10 episodes of Pyramid in a day still reigns as the most ambitious. And when he saluted the audience with his "so long" at the end of a show he wasted no time leaving the set to either change clothes for the next episode or to dash to a waiting limo for his next appointment. His dedication to time management was in evidence by the dual-faced wristwatch he wore; it showed both New York and L.A. time.
Dick Clark was a hell of a guy, and a hell of a broadcasting giant. During his 50+ year career he touched the lives of thousands of co-workers and millions of audience members. His passing is a huge loss. Condolences to his family and friends.