Dick Clark was a uniter, not a divider.
The late TV legend, who passed yesterday at the age of 82, will be remembered for programs like “American Bandstand,” “The $25,000 Pyramid” and “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” But let’s not forget Clark’s prolific resume as an entrepreneur without equal, a man constantly on the prowl for his next big project.
And when Clark was on the small screen, you didn’t have to worry about him insulting the audience or delivering a political sucker punch.
On the creative side, Clark helped bring rock music to the teen masses without scaring their parents half to death. He invited black musicians like Stevie Wonder and James Brown onto “American Bandstand,” helping shatter television’s color barrier. It was entertainment first, and he didn’t have time or patience for much else.
It’s rare for audiences to welcome TV personalities into our homes for more than a year or two, but we kept surfing over to Clark’s various programs for decades. He was always comfortable on screen, and that sense of familiarity made him a congenial presence, even when the show in question focused on something as trivial as TV bloopers.
If Clark lacked edge, we didn’t care.
On the production end of the ledger, Clark’s TV company, which he began in 1957, kept him oh, so busy. In addition to his signature shows, Dick Clark Productions brought The Golden Globe Awards, the American Music Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards to the small screen each year.
Today’s TV talents should be taking notes as they consider the various tributes to Clark we’re seeing both now and in the days to come. He believed in the American economic system and couldn’t spare a second to insult his audience.
He will be missed.