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TV legend Dick Clark dead at 82

April 18, 2012 at 4:23 PM   |   Comments

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LOS ANGELES, April 18 (UPI) -- American TV legend Dick Clark died Wednesday at a Los Angeles hospital after a "massive" heart attack at the age of 82, his representative told TMZ.

The businessman, actor, producer, television personality and pop culture icon -- and perennial "New Year's Rockin' Eve" host -- suffered the heart attack at St. John's hospital after undergoing an outpatient procedure Tuesday night, the celebrity news Web site said.

Assistant Amy Streibel said last year Clark had complications resulting from Parkinson's disease, diabetes and a series of strokes, the first of which he suffered in December 2004.

Richard Wagstaff Clark was born into middle-class circumstances and worked tirelessly and with unrelenting focus to become one of the world's most successful entrepreneurs. By watching trends and spending profits wisely, Clark built a production empire that included the staging of rock concerts, television programs and specials, night club spectaculars, movies and record albums and hours of syndicated radio programs.

When Clark was a teen he suffered with acne, but by his 20s his looks smoothed out morphing Dick into the image of the all-American clean-cut young man.

Later in life Dick became saddled with the nickname, "The World's Oldest (Living) Teenager," but when starting out Clark's clean good looks and youthful boy-next-door image cost him jobs.

"They put me into radio because they said I was too young to be a newscaster. I went down there and they took one look at me and said, 'can't do that,' and made me a disc jockey. I lost cigarette ads, beer ads, everything. I was in my 20s but I had a teenager's face."

Later in life Clark was often asked how he managed to always look so young and he always chalked it up to genetics.

"Pick your parents carefully," Clark said.

Clark was born Nov. 30, 1929, in Mount Vernon, N.Y. After his older brother Bradley was killed piloting a mission for the Army Air Corps during World War II, their father, Richard, threw his support behind his other son, helping him fulfill his dream of entering broadcasting, Clark told United Press International before his passing.

Clark spent hours listening to the radio to help himself grieve Bradley's death, precipitating a life-long love affair with the medium.

The elder Clark, who managed radio station WRUN helped Dick get a job in the mailroom while he went to Syracuse University.

By the time Clark graduated with a degree in business administration, he'd already parlayed that into years of radio experience as an announcer, newscaster and program host. Clark had also moved into local television, hosting a program on WFIL, Philadelphia, called "Bandstand" taking over from Bob Horn in 1956. That program soon became "American Bandstand," and in 1957 the show went national, became the most successful piece of national daytime programming and made Dick Clark a star.

In 1959, Congress began investigating so-called pay-for-play or payola incidents. After nearly a year of character-assassination, Clark was not charged.

Clark rebuilt his image and business and went on to create a media empire as a television producer, radio and television host and businessman.

"I was and still am the luckiest man you'll ever meet. I was doing a job I love -- didn't get much money but I was real happy. It eventually all changed. I got to be real well known; made a fair amount of money doin' what I love. … Doesn't get any better than that," Clark said.

In 1972 Clark began his "New Year's Rockin' Eve" program from Times Square.

In December 2004 Clark had a debilitating stroke from which he never recovered.

Clark was married three times. He leaves behind former wives Karen Wigton Clark, Barbara Mallery Clark and Loretta Martin Clark, daughter Cindy and sons Richard Augustus II and Duane Clark, named after guitarist Duane Eddy.

Topics: Dick Clark
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