At Large: Dick Clark will always be with us

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Dick Clark made a very strong impact during his 50-plus years in show business. Some people you might know have their own feelings about and memories of Dick Clark. Here are some of them.

Scott Wahl is vice president at Coastal Broadcasting:
“My experiences with Dick Clark only involve being a tremendous fan of his work. As a youngster growing up in the 1970s, our only exposure to seeing the singers and bands were the occasional interviews and performances you would find on television. American Bandstand was a must-see and teenagers loved seeing Dick interview his guests and treat them like gold.
“I have always thought being a game show host is a very difficult job. You have to play the same exact game over and over again and somehow make it fresh and exciting. Dick Clark did just that with the $25,000 Pyramid show. He made every guest and celebrity feel special and acted like a true gentleman while building excitement and interest.
“His role as our New Year's Eve host is unparalleled; just like Johnny Carson, he was, is, and always will be, the best that ever was.
“Bottom line: When Dick Clark was on television, you didn't change the channel. He was that good.”

Eddie Kelly was a regular on American Bandstand in Philadelphia from 1959-1961: 
“I was very fortunate to spend time with Dick participating in many events, especially Oprah in 1985 and the 33-1/3 Dick Clark Anniversary Show (he flew me out personally to be part of the three-day event). A very special moment for me was when I happened to be in LA when they were filming the 50th Anniversary Show and I was in the audience. His wife, Kari, knew I was there but not Dick. At the end of the taping Dick came out and walked stage left to right and shook hands with people. He finally got to the part of the stage where I was standing and he had a very surprised look in his eyes and they filled with tears. That is my very special moment with Dick Clark.”  

Debbie Goudie Eberle, an OCHS grad in 1977, is a realtor in Jenkintown, Pa.:
“My mother (JoAnn Forbes Goudie) played hookie from Germantown High School to go dance on Bandstand and she got caught being seen on TV. She received detentions for it. She often told us about dancing on American Bandstand in Philadelphia. She and her girlfriend, Pat, would ride the train to get to the show. My mother died from ALS and we now participate in the OC Walk to D'Feet ALS in memory of her.”

Jackson T. Chase is the afternoon host on Kool 98.3:
“In February 1975 I had a chance to meet Dick Clark when they were filming the 25th anniversary segment of American Bandstand in Philly. It occurred by accident. My boss, Gary Lane, was program director of WMID. He had called me at home saying that his well known caddy was on the fritz. I drove him to Philly where they were filming in the old TV 12 or channel 6 studio. I know it was in West Philly. Chubby Checker was part of the entertainment package. Gary introduced me to Mr. Clark who shook my hand. He was personable but was in total control of the production. I remember there were several takes. The filming took the better part of four hours.”

Keith Hartzell is a member of the Ocean City Council:
“It’s pretty simple - you waited all week to see the new hot group on Bandstand. There were so many one shot wonders, in a way it was the grandparent to American idol. Would that one shot wonder make it and get more new hits? Everyone had their favorite dancer, it was really a part of my teenage years. Most important, he never seemed to age and you thought he would always be here. Hard to believe he is mortal, just like the rest of us.”

Tony Blum is an award-winning broadcaster:
“I remember living in North Jersey and going on a camping trip with friends to Bass River State Forest and then taking the short ride to Atlantic City. We went to the Steel Pier and in the Golden Ballroom saw the Caravan of Stars with Dick Clark featuring Chuck Berry, The Crystals and Gene Pitney. No seats, just stand and watch a great lineup of performers for such a low price. And the one thing that stands out to me from American Bandstand looking back was the part of the show they called ‘Rate A Record’ where they picked two kids and had them give their opinion of a new record that was coming out, one they had never heard before. Most of the time the response was the same – ‘it had a great beat and it was easy to dance to.’ Words that will forever remain with us.”

Bobby Rydell is a popular singer from South Philadelphia with a home in Wildwood:
“Before ‘Kissing Time’ came out, Bernie Lowe, the owner of the record company, would tape dubs of my first three recordings to Dick and he would listen to them. When he brought the dub of ‘Kissing Time’ to Dick, he played it and said ‘this is a hit.’ Then, the record came out, he played it on Bandstand and the response was immediate. He had a great ear, he knew what the public wanted and he was always ready to help.”

Roger Hendler is a retired New Jersey broadcaster now living in Georgia: 
“I remember the Saturday night New York show with Bandstand dancers bused from Philadelphia. The IFIC buttons due to the commercial by sponsor Doublemint gum ‘It's flavor-ific.’ I remember the dancers waiting in line outside the studio at 46th and Market, his show on WFIL 560 and his residing at Drexel Brook.”

Bill Cain is a longtime area radio host who once worked at the original WIBG in Philadelphia:
“I remember playing one of his syndicated shows on the radio. He said something like, ‘I can't really say I have a favorite song in fear of offending a writer, composer, artist, label and so on. But A-1 on my personal jukebox in the office and home is ‘This I Swear’ by The Skyliners. While most of the other songs in my jukeboxes have been changed out and switched about over the years, A-1 has not. And it is the most played by guests, too.’”

Jack Breslin is a former area radio host now in the casino industry in the Northwest:
“I had the pleasure of meeting Dick Clark at Caesars in Atlantic City around 1985. My friend Jim Martin was the entertainment director and brought me backstage after an oldies show that Clark created. I still recall how great the show was with Little Anthony and the Imperials and The Association.
“He came out of a dressing room and was extremely gracious and friendly. I mentioned that I read his book and we shared a fondness for a particular New York radio station. After spending more time than he needed to spend, he said goodbye. I was thrilled.
“My other connection occurred when I worked in the casino industry in Atlantic City. Dick Clark was involved with promoting Connie Francis in an upcoming concert and was willing to record a radio commercial for the show. But he needed copy and I was asked to write the spot. I sent it off, expecting changes. But he recorded it exactly as I wrote it. Again, I was thrilled.”

Whether it was his syndicated nostalgia show that will continue to run every Saturday morning on WIBG-FM; the American Music Awards that he created; memories of American Bandstand every weekday from Philadelphia; his theater in Branson Mo.; or just remembering that special New Year’s Eve when he counted it down for you – Dick Clark will always remain an important part of our lives.


Words of Remembrance: “Dick, Barry Manilow and I were all having lunch together and he needed to call his office for something. When he called, they put him on hold, which made him laugh, and then suddenly he turned to me and said, ‘Bruce, quick, listen to this.’ He handed me the phone and the hold music was ‘Bandstand Boogie,’ the theme song Barry and I wrote for his show. It was such a sweet and adorable thing to do. That smile on his face as he watched me listen to the tune, that’s how I will remember him.”
(Bruce Sussman, songwriter)

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