TODAY | April 19, 2012
MATT LAUER, co-host: But we begin with more on the life and the legacy of the man known as the world's oldest teenager. NBC 's Chris Jansing is a few blocks away from us in Times Square . Chris , good morning to you.
CHRIS JANSING reporting: Good morning, Matt. And standing here in Times Square , it's hard to imagine New Year's Eve without Dick Clark . Who among us didn't come down with him, celebrate with him. He influenced everything from the music we listened to to the TV shows we watched. And this morning America is remembering a pop culture icon. From flowers laid on his star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame , to a heartfelt tribute from his hand-picked successor, Ryan Seacrest .
Mr. RYAN SEACREST: Now we can't begin tonight's show without acknowledging the passing of a television pioneer and my dear friend, Dick Clark .
JANSING: To others whose careers he helped make.
Mr. CHUBBY CHECKER (Singer): I think when he put me on TV , that did it. We knew that if we got on television, that's all they had to do, just give me a chance to go on TV with the Twist and the rest would be history.
JANSING: Generations of fans are remembering Dick Clark , an American original.
JANSING: We welcomed him into our homes for more than five decades. Often called America 's oldest teenager, he seemed ageless, hosting " American Bandstand " for more than 30 years. It started as a Philadelphia teen music and dance show in 1956 . That quickly turned into a national sensation, launching the careers of hundreds of artists from The Supremes , to The Beach Boys , even a young Michael Jackson .
Mr. JOE LEVY (Editor, Billboard Magazine): This guy stood toe to toe with Elvis Presley and Madonna and gave both of them crucial national exposure. That's just crazy.
JANSING: Dick Clark was born Richard Wagstaff Clark in 1929 in Mount Vernon , New York . His first job after Syracuse University was in radio, and music was his passion. He talked about it with Matt on TODAY in 1997 .
Mr. DICK CLARK: Music underscores everything that happens to you. The good stuff and the bad stuff.
JANSING: A prolific entrepreneur, Clark created the American Music Awards , produced the Golden Globes , game shows, and in 1972 , launched this New Year's Eve tradition.
JANSING: Then in 2004 , his life took a dramatic turn.
CHUCK HENRY reporting: Clark is recovering tonight from a stroke.
JANSING: He was hospitalized for seven weeks after that stroke, but a year later made a brave return to "Rockin' New Year's Eve."
Mr. CLARK: It was a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect, but I'm getting there.
JANSING: After that, Clark didn't miss a New Year 's in New York , co-hosting with Ryan Seacrest .
Mr. SEACREST: He taught me how to do television. I studied him as a kid, and I had the fortunate opportunity to work with him for several years on New Year's Eve . And so I'm sad and I'm grateful for what he's given all of us and certainly what he's given me.
JANSING: This year Seacrest was there as Clark counted down to the new year.
Mr. SEACREST: Dick , you've done this for the last 40 years.
Mr. CLARK: All right. And now, the big moment we've been waiting for. Five, four, three, two, one. Happy new year!
JANSING: Welcoming in 2012 , Clark said goodbye to his loyal audience one last time.
Mr. SEACREST: You're such a great friend to me and to the nation watching. Thank you for everything .
Mr. CLARK: Thank you very much . Happy new year.
Mr. SEACREST: Happy new year. Dick Clark .
Mr. CLARK: Oh, wow.
Mr. SEACREST: Come on. Come on.
JANSING: Dick Clark liked to say his greatest asset was that he had his finger on the pulse of everyday people, but this morning he's being remembered by everyone from the president and speaker of the House to music legends. And I want to read you just a few of the many tweets that are out there. From Janet Jackson , " Dick Clark changed the face of musical television." From Diana Ross , "I will always appreciate what he did for me and for popular music ." And from Gloria Estefan , "Not too many people actually deserve the term 'legend.' Dick Clark embodied it and never lost his humility or humanity. We will miss him." And I think Smokey Robinson spoke for millions when he said simply, "I