A half-dozen hairstyles, 110,000 songs and a zillion boyish smiles ago, Dick Clark became the host of American Bandstand. But when he trots out to his center-stage podium October 30, it won’t be just to spin another Top 10 record. The occasion will be ABC-TV’s three-hour American Bandstand’s 30th Anniversary Special.
The agelessly exuberant Clark, 51, who took over from Bob Horn as Band-stand’s host in 1956 and transformed it from a local Philadelphia show to a national institution, will introduce more than 200 pop music stars, in the studio, in special filmed segments or in priceless TV clips from rock’s Stone Age.
One segment features several of the show’s resident dance couples, who sometimes achieved more enduring fame than the performers whose music they jitterbugged, watusied, frugged or discoed to; five of them are reunited for a giant “spotlight dance.” There’s also a tribute to the late Bill Haley. A 22-piece all-star band, including everyone from Duane Eddy and Boots Randolph to Stanley Clarke and Mick Fleetwood, jams along in the studio while Haley does Rock Around the Clock in a 1955 film.
“The taping was like a family reunion, and very sentimental,” says Clark, who moved Bandstand to Los Angeles in 1964 and now lives in Malibu with third wife Kari. “The show has never been critically acclaimed and the Emmy people have yet to get around to us, but Bandstand has become part of Americana. I’ve got three kids [16 to 24 years old] I love very much. But the show has been so closely interwoven into the rest of my life, it has always felt like a fourth child.”
In captions for the accompanying photos, most taken during the taping of the anniversary gala at a Burbank studio (circled ones from the show’s scrapbook), Clark talks about some stars he helped discover.