Richard Wagstaff Clark was born in Mount Vernon, New York on November 30, 1929. Clark's career in show business began in 1945 when he started working in the mailroom of radio station WRUN in Utica, New York (which was owned by his uncle and managed by his father). Clark was soon promoted to weatherman and news announcer. Clark graduated from Syracuse University in 1951 and began his television career at station WKTV in Utica. Clark's first television hosting job was on Cactus Dick and the Santa Fe Riders, a country music program.
In 1952, Clark moved to Philadelphia and took a job as a disc jockey at radio station WFIL. WFIL had an affiliated television station with the same call sign which began broadcasting a show called Bob Horn's Bandstand in 1952. Clark was a regular substitute host on the show and when Horn left, Clark became the full time host on July 9, 1956. The show was picked up by ABC and was first aired nationally on August 5, 1957 and renamed American Bandstand. The show was a major success, running daily until 1963, then weekly until 1987.
Clark began investing in the music publishing and recording business in the 1950's. In 1959, the United States Senate opened investigations into "payola", the practice of music producing companies paying broadcasting companies to favor their product. Clark, as a major figure in both fields, was investigated and testified before Congress in 1960. Clark was not charged with any illegal activities but he was required by ABC to divest his publishing and recording interests.
Clark has been involved in a number of other television series and specials as producer and performer. In 1972, he produced and hosted Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, the first of a ongoing series of specials broadcast on New Year's Eve. In 1973, Clark produced and hosted the game show the $10,000 Pyramid. The show was a success and continued through 1989, by which time it had been upgraded to the $100,000 Pyramid. In 1984, Clark produced and hosted the series TV Bloopers & Practical Jokes which ran through 1988. Clark also produces the current television series American Dreams about a Philadelphia family in the early 1960's whose daughter is a regular on American Bandstand.
Clark has been married three times. His first marriage was to Barbara Mallery in 1952; the couple had one son, Richard Jr, and divorced in 1961. Clark married Loretta Martin in 1962; the couple had two children, Duane and Cindy, and divorced in 1971. Clark has been married to his current wife, Karen Wigton, since 1977.
Clark received Emmy awards in 1979, 1983, 1985, and 1986 and the Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. He is an inductee at the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1976), the Broadcasting Magazine Hall of Fame (1992), the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame (1993), and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame (1993).
He has a stake in a chain of restaurants called Dick Clark's American Bandstand.