Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dick Clark, Mom and Me.

I suppose everyone on the planet knows by now that Dick Clark has passed away at age 82. The iconic TV host was a rare act. He was the man who integrated television with his show "American Bandstand", which showcased the latest pop music acts as the studio of teenagers danced. His show highlighted acts such as James Brown and Chubby Checker. This was a very risky thing to do in the 1950's. The country was still struggling with Jim Crow, and whole communities refused to air his syndicated show, which featured "Negro" artists, as well as African-American teens dancing alongside white teenagers. This was considered by some to be "race-mixing", but was of no concern to Dick Clark. With him, it was all about the music.

In his later years he hosted a TV show, and was also a mainstay on ABC's "Rockin’ New Year’s Eve". And when he was stricken by a stroke, he came back to host the show again, with his speech improving every year. That was his finest hour, and ABC really went out of its way to show how much they valued him as a true "American Idol", when they continued to have him emcee the “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” show with Ryan Seacrest. It was a passing of the torch played out in front of an annual audience of millions each year. And through it all, he even managed to stay perpetually young looking, almost like Dorian Gray, but without the malice or evil qualities.

Now; as for the connection with my Mom and Dick Clark; I have very early memories, even of my crib, as well as my playpen. My mother used to iron in front of the television, usually in the late afternoons. The first shows I actually recall on TV are “American Bandstand”, “The Art Linkletter Show”, and “The Gale Storm Show”. But "Bandstand" stood out among all of the others; and for good reason. This was only about 3 years before my mother was stricken with severe medical problems which would plaque her until her death in 1984. But, when I was 3 years old, she was still animated and joyous. And that is where Dick Clark comes in.

“American Bandstand”; with my Mom dancing to the music as she ironed; is one of the last memories I have of my Mom before she became ill. So, the two will forever be entwined in my memory. Coincidentally they were both the same age, although my Mom passed away several years ago, in 1984.

So, whenever I watched Dick Clark on "Rockin' New Year’s Eve", I was instantly transported back to a time; and place; when all was right in my little world. The photo posted at the top is how I remember Dick Clark looking in 1957. He was 28 years old at the time. It is also the face I saw last New Year’s Eve, when he was 82. The man was; simply put; young at heart. I can think of no better tribute than that.

Here is what I saw from my playpen in 1957 as my Mom ironed;

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