The Cleanest Cut: Remembering Dick Clark

A clean-cut appearance has always been part of the Ivy League Look. With a soft-shouldered jacket and Princeton haircut, a young man could conveniently mask his salacious intentions. After all, what father could fear for his teenage daughter’s honor while on a date with a boy wearing a cardigan?

In the 1950s, this kind of boy-next-door image was required to bring the provocative new music of rock ‘n’ roll into suburban living rooms. It found its ultimate embodiment in Dick Clark, who brought back-seat rhythms into respectable homes clad in natural-shouldered suits and rep ties.

This is not the Ivy style of smoke-filled nightclubs, of Chet and Miles, nor of campus tweeds and crewnecks. Clark’s was the Ivy of Brylcreemed hair and a Chiclets smile, of sock hops and the soda fountain.

A graduate of Syracuse University, where he was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, Clark got his start in 1945 in the mail room of Utica, NY radio station WRUN. He worked his way up to disc jockey, then moved into television in 1956 as the host of American Bandstand. The show aired daily until 1963, then weekly until 1987.

While his white teeth and suave hair remained impervious to the ravages of time, earning him the nickname “America’s Oldest Teenager” and suggesting a portrait rotting away in an attic somewhere, his dedication to Ivy style did not, and, like many others, Clark abandoned the look when it fell out of fashion. — ZD & CC

8 Comments on "The Cleanest Cut: Remembering Dick Clark"

  1. Just wanted to check in and say hello. I’m glad to see this site has really picked up in terms of posting frequency (while maintaining the high quality of the posts), and I’ll be by more often.

  2. RIP, Dick. Somehow, I remember watching his American Bandstand show on a Saturday afternoon in 1958. We had just moved in with my grandfather, so that is how I can date it so accurately. I think it was on ABC network.

    I was all of 6 years old, listening to the music while sitting in my grandfather’s rocker. Dick sat down with the teenagers on the show. A girl told a joke I could not understand at the time. She asked ” Why did the giraffe bring his date home late? Answer, “Because he was a long necker.” A little too adult for a 6 year old.

    Cowboys came on after Bandstand. Gene Autry or an old timer like that. I could’t understand why Gene was always singing and kissing a girl co-star. Fortunately, a few years later, I envied him.

    Rest in peace, Dick Clark.

  3. Dickey Greenleaf | April 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm |

    To Dick Clark, it’s been a blast, thank’s for all of the wonderful memories. Rest in Heavenly Peace.

  4. Why so few comments? Clearly, the readers of this blog are expressing their bias against Mr. Clark and what he represents.

    (*sound of tongue being removed from cheek*)

  5. Thank you Mr. Dick Clark, for the great musical
    legacy you left us. RIP sir!!!!!!

  6. whiskeydent | July 26, 2020 at 10:31 pm |

    “It has a beat you can dance to.”

  7. Robert Staehling | July 27, 2020 at 1:33 pm |

    All I can think about while reading this is Bill Hicks’ bit about him

  8. elder prep | July 27, 2020 at 3:12 pm |

    As an early teen, I liked looking at the pretty girls dancing.

Comments are closed.