BURBANK, Calif. -- Dick Clark, the ever-youthful disc jockey who spun the hits for America's teenagers for 33 years as host of 'American Bandstand,' is stepping aside as the program switches to cable, it was announced Tuesday.
Clark, 59, took over 'Bandstand' in Philadelphia in 1956 and guided it to a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running television variety program in U.S. history.
Clark launched the careers of dozens of music superstars who made their national TV debuts on 'Bandstand,' including Buddy Holly, Chubby Checker, Chuck Berry, Bobby Darrin, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Barry Manilow, The Beach Boys, Dionne Warwick, Sonny & Cher, The Temptations, The Doors, Linda Ronstadt, The Jackson 5, Prince, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Bon Jovi.
Clark will surrender the turntable to David Hirsch, 26, when 'Bandstand' premieres on USA April 8.
'This is actually an exciting day for me,' Clark said. 'Like David, I was 26 when I started hosting 'Bandstand.' After 33 years, I finally decided it was time to give someone else a chance.'
Besides being host of 'Bandstand,' Clark is a prolific creator-producer-host of TV programming. He won an Emmy as best TV game show host for 'The $25,000 Pyramid,' and produces such shows as 'The American Music Awards.'
'Bandstand' started on WFIL-TV in Philadelphia in 1952. Clark took over in 1956 and spun the records while local kids danced to the current top hits. Every few years the originals would return to the show for yet another go at 'the spotlight dance,' in which four or five selected couples would do the twist, Watusi, jerk, mashed potatoes, swim and all the rest of the dances that went on to become national crazes.
The original podium and backdrop from 'Bandstand,' which has won five Emmys over the years, are on display at the Smithsonian Institution.
The program moved to ABC in 1957 and started broadcasting from Hollywood in 1964. It went into first-run syndication in 1987 and on April 8 it moves to USA, a cable network that reaches more than 46 million homes.
Hirsch is a native of Detroit and was a disc jockey and musician. He won the 'Bandstand' job by audition.