We’ll Miss Dick Clark Tonight!
The photo is from New Year’s Eve 1988, and the story below is from the New York Times from April of this year. It’s a nice and interesting read. Enjoy and Happy New Year!
Dick Clark had a commuter’s relationship with New York — a long-distance commuter’s relationship. He did not arrive on a train from the suburbs; he arrived on a plane from the West Coast.
For the man who kept Times Square in the national consciousness in the 1980s and 1990s, New Year’s Eve was a one-night-a-year broadcast and home was 2,500 miles away.
For nine years as the host of the “Pyramid” game show — “The $10,000 Pyramid” until, in inflationary times, it became “The $20,000 Pyramid” — he spent two days a week in Manhattan. He arrived in time to be at the studio on West 58th Street at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. He taped five shows, returning on Wednesday to tape five more. Then he was off to catch a flight to Los Angeles.
“Here is the incredible thing,” Mike Gargiulo, who was the show’s director, recalled on Thursday, one day after Mr. Clark’s death. “In nine years, we had only one day when he missed his 6 o’clock plane at J.F.K.”
So he was here but not here. Dick Clark’s New York was transitory, almost ephemeral, the New York of appearances on television, of parties for other television types, of business meetings. In a stopover in Manhattan in 2000, he said he had flown more than nine million miles, produced more than 7,000 hours of television programs and signed more than 800,000 autographs.
Then he added two postscripts. The first was, “That estimate was made three years ago.” The second was, “Thank God I have a short name.”
It was a name everyone seemed to know. Jane Rothchild, a producer on “The $20,000 Pyramid,” remembered a night when she and Mr. Clark went out for a drink after the day’s tapings. “We passed a guy who was lying drunk in the gutter,” she said. “Dick lifted him up and leaned him against a parking meter. As he was teetering with drunkenness, he barely opened his eyes, but did so, focused on who had lifted him, and said, ‘Thanks, Dick.’ You knew he’d be thinking the next day, ‘Did Dick Clark really lift me out of the gutter last night?’”
For television viewers, he lifted Times Square out of its seediness, just by sticking with his New Year’s Eve show.
“He really understood that New Year’s Eve in Times Square could be a vehicle for changing the perception of Times Square,” said Gretchen Dykstra, who was the president of the Times Square Business Improvement District from its creation in 1991 through 1998. “He and his producers were very amenable to accepting from us suggested scripts that he could include. We would write short pithy paragraphs that he could plug in throughout the evening about a new day coming to Times Square.”
Times Square is a 20-minute walk from the Elysee Theater, where the “Pyramid” shows were videotaped. Mr. Gargiulo said Mr. Clark was unflappable. Did Tony Randall, a guest panelist, say a word you can’t say on television? In the control room, Mr. Gargiulo was frantically figuring out a do-over. On the set, Mr. Clark stayed cool.
“It was like the ball coming down in Times Square,” Mr. Gargiulo said. “He didn’t get overly excited when people were winning, he didn’t get under-excited when they were losing. He had his own choreography that worked for him.”
In 2006, Mr. Clark auctioned off memorabilia he had collected presiding over “American Bandstand” and “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” and producing made-for-television movies and specials. On the block were such items as his hand-held microphone from “American Bandstand.”
“It saw every famous rock ‘n’ roller that was ever born,” he said.
Guernsey’s, the auction house that handled the sale, arranged to have the auction in the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center, in the Time Warner Center. Arlan Ettinger, the president of Guernsey’s, remembered a moment from the night before the sale, when he and Mr. Clark walked outside.
“He was saying how he had grown up in Mount Vernon, you know, a suburb,” Mr. Ettinger said, “and had these visions that someday he hoped he could have an influence on people. We could see down Broadway, and he said, ‘Just think, here I am in this greatest of all cities, and now they all look at me on New Year’s Eve.’”
“He was very humbled,” Mr. Ettinger said. “He wasn’t saying it in a braggadocio style. He was saying how wonderful to have had an impact on so many lives, how lucky he was. It was very touching.”