RIP Dick Clark (1929-2012)


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Since so much will be written about Dick Clark’s tenure on American Bandstand and the Pyramid game shows elsewhere, we'll try to provide you with some Dick Clark stories you may not necessarily read in the various official obituaries. Feel free to share any Bandstand or New Year’s Rockin’ Eve or Pyramid memories as we bid a sad farewell to an old friend.

He Wanted to Share His Youthful Look with Other Men

Dick Clark was frequently referred to as America’s Oldest Teenager not just because he spun the latest hits on American Bandstand, but also because of his Dorian Gray-ish unlined face. He dispelled those nasty cosmetic surgery rumors by not only launching a line of “male cosmetics” in 1985, but also by publishing his Easygoing Guide to Good Grooming the following year. Dick Clark Cosmetics offered moisturizers and gentle skin cleansers as well as bronzers and various shades of under eye cover-up.

Alas, Clark overestimated the average American male's comfort level when it came to smearing pancake on the face, and his cosmetics line went kaput rather quickly. However, in 1993 he tried a different tack – selling male skin care products (under the Geviderm label) via infomercials on late-night TV. Turns out many men didn’t really mind slathering on cold cream as long as they received the product anonymously through the mail.

He Had Two Very Special Fans

Flo and Kay Lyman are the only identical female twin autistic savants in the world. The fifty-something women can remember everything that has ever happened to them, from the title and artist of a song (and when they first heard it), to the weather on a particular date, to what they ate on any given day. And just like Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man character religiously watched and took notes on every episode of The People’s Court, so did the Lyman sisters with The $25,000 Pyramid and all its permutations. They kept carefully coded charts on the game, marking down every clue used, every mistake buzzed, and every color of suit worn by their idol, Dick Clark. Their brother-in-law once observed: “They need food, they need air, and they need Dick Clark.”

They wrote to Clark and he answered their letters and sent them cards every year on their birthday. He arranged to have the sisters visit him at his home and took their calls whenever they phoned. Flo and Kay were devastated when Clark had a stroke in 2004; they formed a small shrine in their bedroom, praying regularly for his recovery. Clark had not fully recovered from his stroke when tragedy again struck the twins; their younger sister, who’d been their guardian for much of their adult lives, died suddenly of a heart attack. Their immediate impulse was to phone Dick Clark, who, despite his own health issues, comforted them and also mailed them a lengthy sympathy card encouraging them to soldier on and remember that their sister was in heaven watching over them.

Lindsey Buckingham Puked on His Rug

Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album had been a monster hit in 1977 and was still selling steadily in 1978 when they attended the American Music Awards. Their first award of the evening was for favorite album, and all five band members made it to the podium unscathed to accept their statue. Later in the evening, however, whatever guitarist Lindsey Buckingham had consumed prior to and during the show had seriously kicked in by the time Fleetwood Mac was announced as favorite artist. He stumbled and fell to all fours while ascending the stairs to the stage. While his bandmates waited for him at stage left he staggered stage right.

Producer Dick Clark summoned the band to his office backstage afterward for a confrontation, but before the dressing-down got started Buckingham livened up the proceedings by vomiting all over Clark’s plush hunter green pile carpeting. Clark dismissed the band by picking up his phone and summoning an assistant to walk them out.

He Knew Ed McMahon Longer than Johnny Carson Did

Ed McMahon was struggling to launch a career in broadcasting when he landed a $75 per week announcing job at WCAU-TV in Philadelphia in 1949. He moved into the Drexelwood apartments in Philly and did odd jobs at the complex to help pay his rent. His next door neighbor was a young disc jockey named Dick Clark who hosted a weekly dance party in the apartment building’s club house. The two became good friends and stayed in contact after each moved to Los Angeles to pursue different career paths. Many years later the pair would work together co-hosting TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes and as pitchmen for American Family Publishers (not Publisher’s Clearing House!).

He Was Many Things, But Not a Prognosticator

As my friends and family can attest, I’m not one to throw things out. As a result, I still have a 1975 issue of Teen magazine that looks back at the fashions and fads of the past 15 years. One article also interviews prominent celebs of the time to ask their predictions as to who and what would be popular 15 years hence. Dick Clark’s confident reply as to what major music stars would still be rockin’ our world in 1990? Elvis Presley and the Osmonds. Oh, and he also commented that we probably hadn’t heard the last of Englebert Humperdinck, either.

See Also: The Scandal That Taught Dick Clark to “Protect Your Ass at All Times”