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“So along with Little Richard and Chuck Berry and the Platters and the Crows and the Jayhawks… the boys wore coats and ties and the girls combed their hair and they all looked like sweet little kids into a high school dance,” he said.

But there was more than just twisting on his show. During “Bandstand’s” first national season in 1957, Clark integrated the show by adding popular black artists such as Chuck Berry, Chubby Checker, Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson to the guest lineups. He helped give black artists their due by playing original R&B recordings instead of cover versions by white performers, and he brought black teens on as dancers.

“It still wasn’t acceptable for them to dance with white kids, so the blacks just danced with each other. We were waiting for the explosion, but it never happened,” Clark told Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine in 1998. “The wonderful part about our decision to integrate then was that there were no repercussions, no reverberations, no battles at all _ it just happened right there on a television screen in front of millions of people. That was a giant step forward.”

President Barack Obama issued a statement saying he and first lady Michelle were saddened by Clark’s passing and lauded him for “reshaped the television landscape forever” and introducing the soundtrack of our times.

“But more important than his groundbreaking achievements was the way he made us feel _ as young and vibrant and optimistic as he was,” the statement said.

His stroke in December 2004 forced him to miss his annual appearance on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.” He returned the following year and, although his speech at times was difficult to understand, many praised his bravery, including other stroke victims.

Still speaking with difficulty, he continued taking part in his New Year’s shows, though in a diminished role.

“I’m just thankful I’m still able to enjoy this once-a-year treat,” he told The Associated Press by e-mail in December 2008 as another New Year’s Eve approached.

He was honored at the Emmy Awards in 2006, telling the crowd: “I have accomplished my childhood dream, to be in show business. Everybody should be so lucky to have their dreams come true. I’ve been truly blessed.”

Friends on Wednesday recalled a patient, encouraging man. “He was there for every crisis of my life and there were many,” Connie Francis said in statement. “Without Dick Clark there would have been no career because I was ready to abandon it. Dick was the most principled man I ever met in this business and treated everyone the same way, even if you were the little guy.”

“I just always considered Dick a wonderful friend. He was always good and supportive of me, but every other musical performer I know of would say the same thing,” said Pat Boone. “Careers grew because of Dick Clark. He is going to be sorely missed.”

He was born Richard Wagstaff Clark in Mount Vernon, N.Y., in 1929. His father, Richard Augustus Clark, was a sales manager who worked in radio.

Clark idolized his athletic older brother, Bradley, who was killed in World War II. In his 1976 autobiography, “Rock, Roll & Remember,” Clark recalled how radio helped ease his loneliness and turned him into a fan of Steve Allen, Arthur Godfrey and other popular hosts.

From Godfrey, he said, he learned that “a radio announcer does not talk to `those of you out there in radio land’; a radio announcer talks to me as an individual.”

Clark began his career in the mailroom of a Utica, N.Y., radio station in 1945. By age 26, he was a broadcasting veteran, with nine years’ experience on radio and TV stations in Syracuse and Utica, N.Y., and Philadelphia. He held a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University. While in Philadelphia, Clark befriended McMahon, who later credited Clark for introducing him to his future “Tonight Show” boss, Johnny Carson.

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