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File this under "news that makes you think that everything you cherished as a child is slowly but surely fading away:" preternaturally youthful-looking American Bandstand/New Year's Rockin' Eve host Dick Clark died of a massive heart attack today at the age of 82. The television icon, who was affectionately known by his fans as "America's oldest teenager," is survived by his wife and three children.
Even if you're too young to have swung with the fresh-faced teenyboppers on Clark's iconic afternoon dancing program American Bandstand, if you were an American teen between the 1950s and, um, now, Clark most likely played an integral role in your upbringing. Bandstand, which began its thirty-seven-year run in 1952 as Dick Clark's Caravan of Music, is largely credited with introducing rock'n'roll music to a national audience, introducing the talents of acts like Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and later Stevie Wonder and Simon and Garfunkel to the mainstream public. The show was also one of the few programs to feature both black and white performers, although it famously refused to integrate its cast of dancing teens until the early sixties.
In addition to Bandstand, Clark is also famous for his role as the host and producer of New Year's Rockin' Eve, which has been broadcast every year since it first premiered on December 31, 1972. Although he had to relinquish his hosting duties after suffering a stroke in 2004, he gamely returned to the screen a year after, and hosted the program for the past six years with Ryan Seacrest. Clark's production company was also responsible for some of the programs that you used to watch when you faked sick and stayed home from school, including So You Think You Can Dance, The [various amounts of money] Pyramid, and TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes.
Here are some other awesome things about Dick Clark that you probably never knew before: his middle name, awesomely, was Wagstaff. His production company is responsible for more than 7,500 hours of television footage, according to calculations from the Museum of Broadcast Communications. He once built a twenty-two-acre house in Malibu that was modeled after Fred and Wilma's abode on The Flintstones. He once did a cameo appearance on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where he poked fun at the rumors that he'd undergone surgery to preserve his youthful appearance. In short, this was an epic life. So for now, Dick Clark, so long. Thanks for making our music and our New Year's Eves a little rockin'-er.