OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Dick Clark honored with 2-hour NYE tribute tonight

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2012-12-31T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Dick Clark honored with 2-hour NYE tribute tonightPhilip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Dick Clark's death in April at age 82 closed a chapter spanning 35 years for his New Year's Eve familiar New York City count down tradition.

Tonight, ABC is paying tribute to Clark with a 2-your special at 7 p.m. filled with many great celebratory clips from the Big Apple from the past three decades.

No word about if his beloved third wife Kari (and her trademark "beehive" hairdo) participated with remarks and memories, since Clark always had cameras flash to her when he'd plant his annual New Year kiss. The couple married just months prior to Clark taking over the New Year's Eve broadcasts.

Prior to Clark, the best known personality for almost a half-century of live New Year's Eve broadcasts from 1929-1976, on radio, and later TV, it was bandleader Guy Lombardo on the air from New York City's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel ballroom.

Lombardo signed off for his final broadcast on Jan. 1, 1976. He died at age 75 in November 1977 and Clark took over the annual broadcasts.

Clark suffered a stroke in November 2004 and had to miss that year's broadcast, while friend Regis Philbin filled in. It was his only missed broadcast. Starting in 2005, Ryan Seacrest, who just turned 38 on Christmas Eve, began joining Clark to help with co-hosting duties and now continues Clark's tradition.

Tonight's TV special tribute includes plenty of great clips featuring the big names who performed throughout the decades as Clark's New Year's Eve hheadliners.

Much was always made about who Clark would line up to appear on his annual "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" broadcast on ABC.

When I interviewed Clark in Hollywood in 2004, he told me of the many musical guests and performers who appeared on his legendary show "American Bandstand," as well as the array showcased on the annual New Year's Eve broadcasts, there's one in particular who never made it to share Clark's microphone.

Ricky Nelson, who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1985, was only 45 when his life ended.

Nelson, (who went by Rick beginning in 1961) always said he never planned to be a singer. He said he only pursued it to impress a teenage girlfriend who was smitten with Elvis Presley, since he was already part of the famous TV family of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson.

His brother David, who died at age 74 in January 2011, was featured alongside Ricky playing themselves on the popular ABC sitcom "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet." After his first single in 1957 "I'm Walkin' " scored as a huge hit, his father featured him singing at the end of every episode.

And because of the tight control he liked to keep on his family, despite his son's white-hot demand and popularity as his career launched, Ozzie refused to allow Ricky to accept any invitations to appear on Clark's show or Ed Sullivan's Sunday night broadcasts, believing ratings for the family's show would remain higher if they had exclusive performances. (Even David and Ricky's real life wives June and Kris were made to appear on the show.)

Nelson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Many people, including Clark, believed Nelson's music and career would have reached a far greater and grander span had he been allowed the added exposure while his career was unfolding.

His final hit was "Garden Party," a song inspired by the singer's 1971 ill-fated appearance at Madison Square Garden, when he said he was booed by the audience for his casual appearance and attempts to sing new songs in addition to his classic hit, which the ticket holders had anticipated.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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