Wednesday, April 18

So long, Dick Clark...for now

Dick Clark, best known for hosting long-running television program American Bandstand, died today at age 82.

America's Oldest Teenager was known for his youthful appearance as well as his catchphrase, "For now, Dick long," which was delivered with a military salute.

Before Dick Clark, Alan Freed promoted live shows in 1957 in which blacks and whites danced together in the aisles. The national sponsors insisted that the network kill the show, which it did.

A week later, American Bandstand made its debut on national TV.

The Civil Rights movement made it clear that dance shows like American Bandstand could not be segregated. The key battle on this front was fought in Baltimore, where the local equivalent was the Buddy Deane Show.

Modern audiences are familiar with Deane's story which was the basis for John Water's 1988 movie Hairspray, which was later adapted as a Broadway musical and another movie by the same name.

The kids on the Deane show were white - except for once a month when they were black. This segregation brought protests from the NAACP.

Deane offered to reserve three days a week for blacks but the station took the show off the air because of continuing protests.

For several years the cameras on American Bandstand rarely showed blacks in the audience or dancing. It is debated how much of an active role Clark had in integrating the show's dancers, but is is credited with playing the music of black musicians instead of the covers by white musicians.

It wasn't until the mid-1960s that American Bandstand really integrated.

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