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"Bandstand" Turns Big Five-0

TV icon popped up on the schedule a half-century ago

(Newser) – Fifty years ago today at 3 pm in Philadelphia, what is now known as a summer replacement program debuted on the ABC TV network. That show, "American Bandstand," ran for 30-plus years. Its host, Dick Clark, frequently referred to as the oldest living teenager, introduced Chubby Checker, Frankie Avalon, Connie Francis, Bobby Darin, and Fabian to a national audience.

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Clark said he never much liked music, acknowledged that he couldn't dance, and admitted he was in it for the money. Pop-culture expert Ken Emerson, writing in the LA Times, posits that "Bandstand" was the progenitor of today's reality TV, not just in its use of fans as participants, but in the profitable proposition of not having to pay actors. (Read more Dick Clark stories.)

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