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Larry Lehmer
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As Bandstand’s popularity with viewers grew, it went through the growing pains of success. For Hank Latven, it meant new duties. Latven was a relative newcomer to the WFIL-TV staff in 1953. The ex-Marine had returned to his native city after attending college in Alabama and was lucky enough to... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Bandstand Beat
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It was almost a maxim in American rock music during American Bandstand's Philadelphia years: If you wanted to go anywhere in the business, you had to be on the show. Dick Clark's star-making potential was widely known. His business associates were also aware of his skills as a "cunning capitalist,"... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Bandstand Beat
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History, the kind I learned in school, wasn't usually my favorite subject. Memorizing dates, names and places tended to be dry and tedious exercises, unless there was an interesting story attached. Family histories are different. Their relevance is easier to... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Passing It On
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Buoyed by his experience in shaping At the Hop for Danny and the Juniors, Dick Clark tested his influence with another group before the end of 1957. Earlier in the year, Clark had noticed that the dancers on Bandstand did an unusual, slow-moving line dance to C.C. Rider by Chuck... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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I recently wrote about The Buddy Deane Show, a Baltimore TV teen dance show that preempted American Bandstand in that market. There were dozens of similar teenage dance parties around the country in those days so I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a few of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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Many viewers may not have realized it at the time, but the Drexel Hill apartment complex where Clark lived was occasionally featured on special American Bandstand remote broadcasts. Pool parties in the summer and ice skating parties in the winter were broadcast from the complex. It was also the site... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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One of the myths surrounding American Bandstand is that everyone who appeared on the show became a star. The show had definite star-making potential, to be sure, but it could also be a dream-killer. Consider the fates of a handful of people associated with the record Drive-In Movie. The singers... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
A lot of people these days celebrate “Throwback Thursday.” In case you’re not familiar with the term, it’s commonly used in social media to describe some sort of post about one’s past. It usually involves sharing of a cherished photo... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2015 at Passing It On
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Although Charlie Gracie found stardom to be elusive, he was getting regular work — including a few appearances on Bandstand and doing a Sealtest commercial on a circus program, The Big Top— and he was making twice what his father was earning at Stetson. His earlier appearances on The Paul... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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In August 1998, Philadelphia Weekly published a list of "Philly's 100 Greatest Hits," as compiled by PW staff and contributors. It was a bold undertaking, considering that few American cities have as rich a musical tradition as Philadelphia has. Naturally, American Bandstand played a huge role in that tradition during... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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1958 While American Bandstand had accomplished a lot in its first six months as a national program, it was not at all clear that the program (or Dick Clark) could maintain its phenomenal successes. For one thing, the show’s concept was so simple, it was easily duplicated. Billboard estimated that... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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From its earliest moments as a national show, it was obvious that the teenagers dancing on American Bandstand would be copied by teens across the land who wanted not only to dance like the kids from Philadelphia, but to look like them, too. Fortunately for parents across the country, Dick... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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1959 Once it became obvious that the ripples from the emerging congressional investigation into disc jockey payola threatened to swamp American Bandstand, the network’s daytime programming jewel, ABC-TV network officials came to a critical decision — someone would have to keep an eye on Dick Clark down there in Philadelphia.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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It was not easy to get into American Bandstand. Once the show went national, long lines of eager teenage dancers formed outside the studio doors before showtime -- boys on one side, girls on the other. Although care was taken to admit roughly the same number from either gender, it... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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Tony Verna, who died Sunday at age 81, gained national fame as the creator of the instant sports replay but, if things had worked out a bit differently, he could have put his creative skills at work on Bandstand, where he worked briefly in the show's early days. Verna, a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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Dick Clark was pretty much all business when he took over Bandstand in 1956 but, as time went on, he developed a laid-back personable style that allowed him to make light of situations that could have been catastrophic in the hands of a less-deft host. Like when a record would... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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1956 “Want to buy a lion cub?” Bob Horn paused just slightly to consider the question before responding. “That’s a helluva idea. I wonder what one costs?” Tony Mammarella was half-kidding when he brought up the question, which was prompted from an ad placed in Billboard magazine by a Louisiana... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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One of American Bandstand's most enduring influences was how it sparked nationwide interest in dances (think the Stroll and the Twist). Teenagers from Miami to Seattle, Boston to Los Angeles and all points in between wanted to do those dances they saw their favorite Philadelphia teens doing on TV. And... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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Summer, 1956 By late summer, local viewers started to take notice of the young dancers on Bandstand, writing them fan mail that was often distributed on air. Within a month of Dick Clark’s ascension to the Bandstand podium, the show made local TV history when Billboard reported that WFIL-TV “became... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2015 at Bandstand Beat
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I see that Iowa is planning to issue digital drivers licenses so people can carry them in their smart phones instead of in their wallets. Seems like a dumb idea to me. Those flimsy paper license they typed up at the DMV when I was a teenager probably weren't such... Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2014 at Life In the Slow Lane
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Today, a few more tidbits about Dick Clark and the Philadelphia years of American Bandstand. Hopefully, you'll discover something new and interesting here. Also, if you have any stories to share about your own Bandstand experience or have something you'd like to know about the show, let me know. I... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2014 at Bandstand Beat
Journalism is in trouble. OK, I'll admit, that's not really news. Anyone who has witnessed the de-evolution of cable "news" or has followed the gutting of newspapers around the country has some sense of what's going on. But I suspect it's even worse than imagined. The very core of American... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2014 at Life In the Slow Lane
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Although Dick Clark lacked the requisite skills to be a performer on a network musical show, his appearance on Pat Boone’s Chevy Showroom on January 2, 1958, nevertheless proved memorable. Clark brought along Danny and the Juniors, whose At the Hop was the No.1 song in the country. Coupled with... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2014 at Bandstand Beat
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Today, a few more tidbits about the Philadelphia years of American Bandstand. Hopefully, you'll discover something new and interesting here. Also, if you have any stories to share about your own Bandstand experience or have something you'd like to know about the show, let me know. I look forward to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2014 at Bandstand Beat
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To many people, Cameo and Swan were the same company. Indeed, the labels shared office space in the same Locust Street building in the late 1950s and Swan’s first LP release — Treasure Chest of Hits — included just five songs that were Swan singles while including six Cameo releases... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2014 at Bandstand Beat