entertainment

Dick Clark's 'Magical Place'

JOHN F. MORRISON, Daily News Staff Writer

Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2012, 9:16 AM

For Bunny Gibson, American Bandstand was a magical place.

Dick Clark with Daryl Hall and John Oates in New York in 1983. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark pauses on the set during a rehearsal for the Pennsylvania Lottery's 25th anniversary game show Thursday, March 6, 1997, in Philadelphia. The lottery is celebrating its anniversary with a show hosted by Clark that will air Saturday, March 8, 1997. (AP Photo/Tim Shaffer) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark broadcasts New Year's festivities from Times Square in New York for ABC, Dec. 31, 1996. (AP Photo/Wally Santana) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Family Film Awards producer Dick Clark, left, and Charlton Heston, right, turn to cameras as they present the Lifetime Achievement Award to the legendary performer Bob Hope at his table during ceremonies Thursday, Aug. 22, 1996 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Susan Sterner) ASSOCIATED PRESS
From left, Dick Clark, executive producer for the "Family Film Awards," holds one, along with the star of "Rookie of the Year," Thomas Ian Nicholas, and the Emmy Award-winning star of "The Waltons," Richard Thomas, during the presentation of the final nominations for the first ever "Family Film Awards" in Beverly Hills, Calif., Tuesday, June 25, 1996. Winners of the awards will be announced during live presentation ceremonies on CBS, Thursday, Aug. 22, 1996.(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark in New York in 1983. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Barry Manilow, right, joins Dick Clark on stage during a special Emmy tribute to Clark at the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday, Aug. 27, 2006, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Barry Manilow, right, joins Dick Clark on stage during a special Emmy tribute to Clark at the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday, Aug. 27, 2006, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark, executive producer of the sixth annual Family Television Awards, speaks to attendees before the taping of the show in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2004. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark, executive producer of the American Music Awards, greets singer Alicia Keys after her performance rehearsal for the 32nd Annual American Music Awards, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2004, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The awards show is to be televised live on Sunday. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Producer Dick Clark directs singer Kelly Clarkson, center, and Nick Lachey to photographers after they announced nominees for the annual American Music Awards, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2004, in Beverly Hills, Calif. The awards are to be presented Nov. 14. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Show host Reba McEntire, right, is joined by producer Dick Clark during the 39th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Wednesday, May 26, 2004. (AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dixie Chicks members, left to right: Emily Erwin, Natalie Maines and Martie Deidel, watch as producer Dick Clark asks members of the media to back up , during a photo opportunity at the announcement of the 26th annual American Music Awards nominees Monday, Nov. 23, 1998 in Los Angeles. Twenty awards will be handed out Jan. 11 at the city's Shrine Auditorium during a three-hour ABC-TV special. (AP Photo/ Damian Dovarganes) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark is shown in 1987. (AP Photo) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Diahann Carroll, Dick Clark, Robin Givens at United Negro College Fund reception on Oct. 15, 1986. (AP Photo) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark is shown in 1985. (AP Photo/Nancy Kaye) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Executive producer Dick Clark welcoming former Mouseketeer Annette Funicello to the party in 1978 when ABC-TV presented "ABC's Silver Anniversary Celebration," a gala four-hour telecast. (AP Photo) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Gov. Ray Blanton of Tennessee poses with singers Johnny Cash and wife June Carter Cash after presenting a trophy to Cash for outstanding contributions to musical entertainment, during the American Music Awards, Feb. 1, 1977, in Los Angeles. The Cashes' young son John Carter Cash, holds the award. Television personality Dick Clark looks on at right. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Radio personalities, left to right, Dick Clark, Charles Osgood, Frank Stanton and Paul Harvey pose with their awards being inducted into the Emerson Radio Hall of Fame on June 6, 1990 in New York City. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Producer Dick Clark, left, talks with singer Rod Stewart during rehearsals, Friday, Nov. 12, 2004, for the American Music Awards in Los Angeles. The awards show will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Entertainer Dick Clark, right, meets with supporters after speaking about diabetes Thursday afternoon July 8, 1002 at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Fla. Clark recently disclosed he has type 2 diabetes. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) ASSOCIATED PRESS
From left, singer Troy Gentry, singer Eddie Montgomery, producer Dick Clark, singer Terri Clark and singer Brad Paisley are seen during the nomination announcement for the Academy of Country Music Awards in Los Angeles Wed., March 10, 2004. The awards show will be televised live from Las Vegas May 26. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Producer Dick Clark, left, and singer Rod Stewart talk as they pose for a photo during rehearsals for the 31st Annual American Music Awards, Friday, Nov. 14, 2003, in Los Angeles. The awards will be given on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2003, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark, center, producer of the "American Music Awards," shares a laugh with show hosts the Osbourne Family from left, rocker Ozzy Osbourne; son Jack; Clark; daughter Kelly and wife Sharon before rehearsals for the show Saturday, Jan. 11, 2003, in Los Angeles. The awards, as selected by the American record-buying public, will be presented Monday, Jan. 13, on ABC. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Show producer Dick Clark greets singer Christina Aguilera during rehearsals for the American Music Awards, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2003, in Los Angeles. The show will air on Monday, Jan. 13. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark looks over the American Music Awards script with singer Christina Aguilera, right, during rehearsals, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2003, in Los Angeles. The show airs Monday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Members of the group Alabama present Dick Clark, center, with one of their guitars at the 37th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards Wednesday, May 22, 2002, in Los Angeles. From left to right are Jeff Cook, Randy Owen, Clark, Mark Herndon and Teddy Gentry. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark takes questions during a news conference, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2001, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Clark spoke about the $10 million lawsuit he filed Wednesday against Grammy Awards president C. Michael Greene for allegedly blacklisting performers who appear first on Clark's American Music Awards. (AP Photo/Kim D. Johnson) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, left, Jewel, center, and Dick Clark announce the nominations for the 29th annual American Music Awards Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2001, in Beverly Hills, Calif. The three-hour American Music Awards will be broadcast by ABC-TV on Jan. 9 from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Entertainers Emilio and Gloria Estefan, left, receive the National Music Foundation's 1993 Humanitarian Award for their efforts to help victims of Hurricane Andrew from music impresario Dick Clark, second right, and recording star John Secada, at the foundation's gala in Universal City, January 24, 1993. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark is shown with his wife, Kari Wigton, as they arrive at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Los Angeles, Calif., Tuesday night, Jan. 12, 1993. Clark is to be inducted as a non-performing record-industry professional. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Host Dick Clark laughs with Miss USA Kelli McCarty of Liberal, Kansas, during the Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas, Nev., Friday, May 18, 1991. McCarty finished in the top six. (AP Photo/Bob Galbraith)
Radio personalities, left to right, Dick Clark, Charles Osgood, Frank Stanton and Paul Harvey pose with their awards after being inducted into the Emerson Radio Hall of Fame on June 6, 1990 in New York City. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)
Miss Michigan Carole Gist, of Detroit, adjusts her crown while seated on the throne after being named Miss USA 1990 in Wichita, Kansas, Friday night, March 2, 1990. Standing at left is Dick Clark. (AP Photo/Cliff Schiappa) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark, left, and Lou Rawls join together at Clark's Malibu home Wednesday, October 10, 1986 at a reception to announce details of the United Negro College Fund's 1986 Telethon, the "Lou Rawls Parade of Stars." The telethon, set to air in December, is held yearly to help educate some 45,000 students enrolled in 43 private colleges and universities supported by the Fund. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)
Dick Clark is shown on March 8, 1982. (AP Photo) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark is shown with his dog Mort in March 8, 1982. (AP Photo/Lennox Mclendon) ASSOCIATED PRESS
As his wife Barbara Mallery looks on Dick Clark does a bit of kitchen policing at their new suburban home near Philadelphia, PA., July 26, 1960. (AP Photo)
Dick Clark, left, executive producer of the 32nd Annual American Music Awards, chats with performers Alicia Keys, center, and Usher following a rehearsal of their performance together, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2004, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The awards show will be televised live on Sunday. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Actress Charlize Theron, left, and Dick Clark, executive producer of the 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards, announce that actor Al Pacino, not in photo, has been selected to receive the 2001 Cecil B. DeMille Award, during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2000, in Beverly Hills, Calif. The DeMille Award will be presented to Pacino during the 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards broadcast Jan. 21 on NBC-TV during ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Pacino was selected by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's board of directors. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark, left, executive producer of the American Music Awards, gesturs towards the stage where singer Lenny Kravitz will perform the song "American Woman," during rehearsals at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2000. Kravitz is nominated for Pop/Rock Favorite Male Artist. The show will be televised live Monday night on the ABC network. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Television disc jockey Dick Clark is seen surrounded by teen age fans in 1957, during a broadcast. (AP Photo) ASSOCIATED PRESS
** FILE ** "American Bandstand" icon Dick Clark speaks after receiving a special Emmy tribute at the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in this Aug. 27, 2006, file photo, in Los Angeles. Nearly two years after a stroke, Clark recounted the stunning moment he realized his right side was paralyzed, when he spoke to the Associated Press Monday, Nov. 20, 2006, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) ASSOCIATED PRESS
A mural honoring the "American Bandstand" show's 37 years on television is seen on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2007, in the former west Philadelphia studio where the show began. Chubby Checker, Connie Francis and other performers from the hit show danced on Thursday morning to dedicate the mural, created by the city's Mural Arts Program. (AP Photo/George Widman) ASSOCIATED PRESS
A mural honoring the "American Bandstand" show's 37 years on television is seen on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2007, in the former west Philadelphia studio where the show began. Chubby Checker, Connie Francis and other performers from the hit show danced on Thursday morning to dedicate the mural, created by the city's Mural Arts Program. (AP Photo/George Widman) ASSOCIATED PRESS
R.A. Clark, son of American Bandstand fame Dick Clark, accepts the Jim Reeves International Award for is father during the first-ever ACM Honors, an evening dedicated to recognizing the special honorees and non-televised categories from the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, which was held earlier this year, as they gathered at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008, in Nashville, Tenn. (Bill Waugh / AP Images for ACM) AP Images for ACM
American Bandstand disc jockey and television personality Dick Clark stands in background as teens dance during the show at the West Philadelphia television studio in this undated photo. (AP Photo) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Disc jockey television personality Dick Clark looks over some papers during an American Bandstand show in Philadelphia in this undated photo. (AP Photo) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Entertainer and former host, Dick Clark, left, chats with an unidentified person at the original American Bandstand studio in Philadelphia Tuesday, Aug. 5, 1997, on the 40th anniversary of the television show. Scholars say the show was a prime factor in in making rock 'n' roll so popular with teens in the '50s and '60s. (AP Photo/Dan Loh) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Entertainer and former host, Dick Clark chats with reporters at the original American Bandstand studio in Philadelphia Tuesday, Aug. 5, 1997, on the 40th anniversary of the television show. Scholars say the show was a prime factor in making rock 'n' roll popular with teens in the '50s and '60s. (AP Photo/Dan Loh) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Entertainer and former host Dick Clark, center, greets former dancers at the original American Bandstand studio in Philadelphia while Larry Giuliani, right, looks on, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 1997, on the 40th anniversary of the television show. Scholars say the show was a prime factor in making rock 'n' roll so popular with teens in the '50s and '60s. (AP Photo/Dan Loh) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Entertainer and former host Dick Clark, center with arms up, shows off a new street plaque as he is surrounded by friends and other dignitaries outside the original American Bandstand Studio in Philadelphia Tuesday, Aug. 5, 1997, on the 40th anniversary of "American Bandstand." Scholars say the show was a prime factor in making rock 'n' roll so popular with teens in the '50s and '60s. (AP Photo/Dan Loh) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Ryan Seacrest presents the American Bandstand Tribute at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Susan Lucci, left, is seen with Chubby Checker as he performs during the the American Bandstand Tribute at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark, left, reacts as Ryan Seacrest looks on during the the American Bandstand Tribute at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2010, in Las Vegas. At right is Kari Wigton. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark, left, and Ryan Seacrest are seen during the the American Bandstand Tribute at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark, left, kisses Kari Wigton after the American Bandstand Tribute at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark, left, is seen with Kari Wigton after the American Bandstand Tribute at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tony Orlando, left, and Marie Osmond perform during the the American Bandstand Tribute at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison) ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Spinners performs during the the American Bandstand Tribute at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark, left, looks at Ryan Seacrest during the the American Bandstand Tribute at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2010, in Las Vegas. At right is Kari Clark. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
Bo Diddley's autographed guitar is among celebrity items on display during the press preview for the Dick Clark auction in New York, Wednesday Oct. 25, 2006. Dick Clark, whose 50-year career included host of the television teenage show "American Bandstand," is auctioning more than one thousand celebrity items in his collection for charity, at New York's Lincoln Center on Dec. 5 and 6. Photo at right shows Dick Clark. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark, left, kisses Kari Clark after the American Bandstand Tribute at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
Dick Clark, left, reacts as Ryan Seacrest looks on during the the American Bandstand Tribute at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2010, in Las Vegas. At right is Kari Clark. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
Dick Clark, left, is seen with Kari Clark after the American Bandstand Tribute at the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2010, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
Singers Cyndi Lauper, left, of 1980s and Little Richard of the 1950s find a common note to share during ceremonies honoring American Bandstand and its host, Dick Clark, at Chassens Restaurant, Monday, Sept. 15, 1987, Los Angeles, Calif. Scores of celebrities who were on the show turned out at the party where American Bandstand and Dick Clark received the first Guinness Supreme Achievement Award from the Guinness Book of World Records. The show is in its 35th consecutive year on television. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Johnny Mathis and Dick Clark are photographed at a party in Chasen's Restaurant in the Los Angeles to honor Clark's program " American Bandstand." September 11, 1987. (AP Photo)
Host of American Bandstand Dick Clark, left, and his guest Connie Francis are shown during taping of the show in Los Angeles, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 9, 1980. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) ASSOCIATED PRESS
"American Bandstand" host Dick Clark is shown, Sept. 1978. (AP Photo) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dick Clark instructs the audience prior to the taping of the Family Television Awards on Wednesday, July 31, 2002, in Beverly Hills, Calif. The ceremony will air Aug. 9 on ABC. (AP Photo/Krista Niles) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Little Richard, bottom right, performs "Good Golly Miss Molly" with support from Jane Wiedlin of the Go Go's and jazz bassist Stanley Clarke, top, during the "supergroup" finale of "American Bandstand's 50th...A Celebration," Sunday, April 21, 2002, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, Calif. A variety of musicians including Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Cher taped performances over the weekend for the television special, which is hosted by Dick Clark and scheduled to air on May 3rd. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Little Richard performs "Good Golly Miss Molly" with the Pointer Sisters providing backup vocals during the "supergroup" finale of "American Bandstand's 50th...A Celebration," Sunday, April 21, 2002, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, Calif. A variety of musicians including Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Cher taped performances over the weekend for the television special, which is hosted by Dick Clark and scheduled to air on May 3. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) ASSOCIATED PRESS
"American Bandstand" host Dick Clark, left, has a word with Little Richard before the "supergroup" finale of "American Bandstand's 50th...A Celebration," Sunday, April 21, 2002, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, Calif. A variety of musicians including Michael Jackson, Cher and Stevie Wonder taped performances over the weekend for the television special, which is scheduled to air on May 3rd. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Harry "K.C." Casey of K.C. and the Sunshine Band performs during the taping of "American Bandstand's 50th...A Celebration," Sunday, April 21, 2002, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, Calif. A variety of musicians including Cher, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson taped performances over the weekend for the television special, which is hosted by Dick Clark and scheduled to air on May 3rd. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Michael McKean, left, of the mock rock group Spinal Tap, and actor/musician Jim Belushi play along during the "supergroup" finale of "American Bandstand's 50th...A Celebration," Sunday, April 21, 2002, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, Calif. A variety of musicians including Cher, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder taped performances over the weekend for the television special, which is hosted by Dick Clark and scheduled to air on May 3rd. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) ASSOCIATED PRESS
Photo Gallery: Dick Clark 1929-2012

She was a 13-year-old kid from Darby, unhappy with her home life, her school and her hometown, and looking for something wonderful to happen to her.

You had to be 14 to get on Bandstand, so she borrowed her mother's makeup, stuffed rags down her front, played hooky from school that day in 1959 and went off to be part of the hundreds of other teenagers yearning to be among Dick Clark's dancers at the old studio at 46th and Market streets.

She said her knees were knocking as she approached the green doors to the studio. A girl in front of her was turned away and went sobbing down the street.

But Bunny's disguise worked and she entered a "magical, wonderful place."

"This is my new family," she recalled thinking. "This is where I belong. That experience changed the course of my life."

As it did the lives of hundreds of other teenage girls and boys who made the trek to West Philadelphia when American Bandstand was there from the late '50s until it moved to Hollywood in 1964.

Bunny, who has had parts in TV serieses, was still tearful last night after hearing the news that Dick Clark had died of a heart attack in Los Angeles at the age of 82.

He was the man who helped put Philadelphia on the popular music map, featuring wholesome, well-dressed, clean-cut teens dancing to rock 'n' roll, which in many quarters of the land, was still viewed as the "Devil's music." While famed as an entertainer, Clark also was a shrewd businessman, producing a number of hit shows, music publishing and recording through his Dick Clark Productions, and operating radio stations and a restaurant chain, among other endeavors.

And Philly gave him his start.

He gained national recognition when the dance show became ABC's American Bandstand in August 1957. He was a fixture on New Year's Eve telecasts through last year, despite impaired speech from a stroke in 2004.

He also hosted five versions of the popular game show "Pyramid," and numerous other TV shows over the years.

Because of his youthful good looks, Clark was called "The World's Oldest Teenager."

"He was very dedicated," said Michael Fiorentino, known as "Mickey Blue," another of the Bandstand dancers. "I never saw anyone with more seriousness. He knew where he was going. There he was with a bunch of snot-nosed kids, how did he know he would become the star he was?

"He was my mentor in a lot of ways. Because of his example I stayed as a Teamster for 45 years. I was the Dick Clark of the Teamsters."

Another dancer, Steven Colanero, said, "We were all too young to appreciate how lucky we were. There are great memories."

Once during a cab strike, Steve was riding the Frankford El when he came upon a scruffy, poorly dressed man who looked like a bum.

"It's me, Dick Clark," the man said. "Stay with me."

Clark had had to ride the El, too, and didn't want to be recognized.

Richard Wagstaff Clark was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Nov. 30, 1929. After graduating from A.B. Davis High School in Mount Vernon, he began doing odd jobs for WRUN-AM in Rome, N.Y. The station was owned by an uncle and managed by his father, Richard Augustus Clark. Dick became the weatherman and news announcer.

While attending Syracuse University, he was a disc jockey on radio station WOLF in Syracuse, and hosted a country music show called "Cactus Dick and the Santa Fe Riders."

He moved to the Philadelphia area in 1952 and lived in Drexel Hill, where he was a neighbor of Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson's longtime sidekick. He took a job as a disc jockey at radio station WFIL.

One of the station's features was a show that used teenagers to rate the current music. Among the guest evaluators was Mary Ann Donio, then 16. Clark saw her chewing gum and told her she couldn't talk on radio while chewing gum.

"He made me put it on my nose," said Mary Ann, now Mary Ann Federico. "We were judging a song by Fats Waller. I had to leave the gum on my nose."

A WFIL affiliated TV station broadcast a dance show hosted by Bob Horn in 1952. Clark was a regular substitute on the show and when Horn, who was arrested for drunken driving, departed, Clark took over on July 9, 1956. He was 26.

When the show was picked up by ABC and aired nationally on Aug. 5, 1957, Clark was interviewing Elvis Presley.

Clark produced American Bandstand for syndicated television and later the USA Network, a cable-and-satellite-television channel, until 1989, when it went off the air.

In 1972, Clark produced and became the host of "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve." It became a New Year's Eve staple. Clark often stood in Times Square bundled against the cold, waiting for the ball to drop.

He had to skip the end of 2004 because of his stroke, but came back the following year as co-host to Regis Philbin. His speech improved each year, but he maintained a peripheral role.

Clark hosted a number of radio shows, the longest running was "Rock, Roll & Remember," named after his 1976 autobiography. It ran from 1982 to the time of his stroke in 2004.

He and his former neighbor, Ed McMahon, co-hosted the NBC series, "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes" in 1984. It ran until 1998.

Clark did a number of acting stints, including a part in a Perry Mason show, "The Case of the Final Fadeout," in which he was revealed to be the killer.

He was married three times. His first marriage was to Barbara Mallery in 1952. They had one son, Richard, and divorced in 1961. He married Loretta Martin in 1962. They had two children, Duane and Cindy, and divorced in 1971. His third marriage in 1977 to Kari Wigton lasted until his death.

Contact John F. Morrison at 215-854-5573 or morrisj@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @johnfmorrison

JOHN F. MORRISON, Daily News Staff Writer

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