There are some celebrities who for whatever reason seem immortal. Richard Wagstaff Clark, who we just learned has died of a massive heart attack at the age of 82, was certainly one of them. The American Bandstand host and legendary TV producer, whose health had been on the decline since a 2004 stroke that left him partially paralyzed and his speech impaired, suffered the attack following an outpatient procedure that he underwent last night at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.
“The key ingredient is giving the audience what they expected to get,” Clark explained of his success in TV. “If I’m there to escape, let me escape. If I’m there to be taught, teach me. But, don’t suck me in, thinking I’m going to escape and then teach me. You’ve caught me off guard. You’d say, ‘I’ve been had,’ and you’d leave.”
While he racked up an impressive list of accolades over the course of his long career in show business — Emmys, Grammys, a Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — and played a large part in bringing rock ‘n’ roll into the mainstream, Clark will probably be best remembered for maintaining an impossibly youthful appearance, even in his later years. As the man known as “the world’s oldest teenager” once famously quipped, “if you want to stay young looking, pick your parents very carefully.”
Click through to watch a clip from a 1999 interview for the Archive of American Television in which Clark discusses his legacy.