After "American Bandstand" debuted on television in 1952, it made celebrities of the teens the cameras captured as the show's "regular dancers." And when Dick Clark took over on-air hosting duties in 1956 (from producer Bob Horn), he also became a household name and stayed with the show until the series ended in 1989.
Showcasing all of the Top 40 tunes and singing sensations of the day, the show premiered locally in an afternoon time slot to attract after-school viewership in late September 1952, originally titled as simply "Bandstand" on Philadelphia television station WFIL-TV Channel 6 before later becoming broadcast nationally via ABC. In the show's later years, it became a weekly Saturday morning staple broadcast.
While in Atlantic City earlier this month, I got to spend some time with Arlene Sullivan, one of the teen magazine favorite faces, along with her dance partner, Kenny Rossi.
Sullivan,70, is busy working on a new book about her "Bandstand" days with fellow "Bandstand" regular Bunny Gibson (also one of the most popular regulars on the show) assisted by authors Sharon Sultan Cutler and Cookie Tischler, the latter duo being the scribes behind the tome "Once Upon Our Times (Because Life Isn't A Fairytale): 65 Years Growing Up Baby Boomer." FYI:onceuponourtimes.com
For anyone with "American Bandstand" memories, the gals of this trio would love to hear from readers by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
As for Arlene, she didn't say whether or not her experience as a teen sensation on the show was anything like the competitive "cutting-a-rug" depictions as shared in the 1988 film "Hairspray."
What she did tell me was the most exciting days during the show's taping was when famous names of the day dropped by to promote music, TV and film projects.
"Tony Bennett, Tab Hunter, Jeff Chandler and Patti Page were some of the big-time favorites we were all so excited to meet," Arlene said.
"But of them all, it was when Sal Mineo came in for segment for the show that had everyone the most excited."
Mineo's big breakthrough as an actor was his role in the 1955 film "Rebel Without a Cause," opposite James Dean and Natalie Wood. (Mineo's life ended decades later after he was arriving home after a rehearsal on Feb. 12, 1976 and was stabbed to death in the alley behind his apartment building in West Hollywood, with the knife blade striking his heart, leading to immediate and fatal internal bleeding.)
As details about Arlene's book, including a pub date, become available, I'll keep readers updated.