Richard Augustus Wagstaff Clark Jr. (November 30, 1929 – April 18, 2012) was an American radio and television personality, television producer and film actor, as well as a cultural icon who remains best known for hosting American Bandstand from 1956 to 1989. He also hosted the game show Pyramid and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, which transmitted Times Square’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.
As host of American Bandstand, Clark introduced rock & roll to many Americans. The show gave many new music artists their first exposure to national audiences, including Iggy Pop, Ike & Tina Turner, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Talking Heads, Simon & Garfunkel and Madonna.
Episodes he hosted were among the first in which blacks and whites performed on the same stage, and they were among the first in which the live studio audience sat without racial segregation. Singer Paul Anka claimed that Bandstand was responsible for creating a “youth culture”. Due to his perennially youthful appearance and his largely teenaged audience of American Bandstand, Clark was often referred to as “America’s oldest teenager” or “the world’s oldest teenager”.
In his off-stage roles, Clark served as Chief Executive Officer of Dick Clark Productions (though he sold off his financial interest in his later years). He also founded the American Bandstand Diner, a restaurant chain modeled after the Hard Rock Cafe. In 1973, he created and produced the annual American Music Awards show, similar to the Grammy Awards.