‘Only God is responsible for making more stars than Dick Clark’

Updated 4:39 PM EDT, Thu April 19, 2012

Story highlights

Dick Clark suffered a heart attack at a hospital in Santa Monica, his publicist says

Clark hosted "American Bandstand" from 1956 to 1989

As host of "American Bandstand," Clark bridged racial and political divides

He was dubbed "America's oldest living teenager" thanks to his youthful appearance

(CNN) —  

He was one of the most recognizable and influential voices in rock n’ roll, and he never sang a note.

So in the wake of Dick Clark’s death, Americans of all stripes – including music icons – shared memories throughout the night and into Thursday.

It wasn’t just that Clark first introduced the world to likes of Buddy Holly and James Brown as host of the influential “American Bandstand.” It was that his fresh-scrubbed, boyish image and enthusiasm bridged a racial and political divide, making it OK for America’s youth to listen to music that often troubled its older generation.

It is what really made him “America’s oldest living teenager,” a moniker he earned thanks to his youthful appearance.

Voice silenced

Clark, 82, suffered a heart attack Wednesday while at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica for an outpatient procedure, his publicist Paul Shefrin said. “Attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful.”

The family has not yet decided whether there will be a public memorial service for the multifaceted Clark, although Shefrin said, “There will be no funeral.”

’America’s oldest teen’ Dick Clark dies

In December 2004, Clark suffered what was then described as “a mild stroke,” just months after announcing he had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

That stroke forced Clark to cut back on his on-camera work, including giving up the hosting duties for the “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” specials. He appeared briefly as a co-host with Ryan Seacrest on December 31, 2005.

Clark anguished each year over whether to continue appearing on the annual show because of limitations on his speech from the stroke, U.S. Rep. David Dreier, a longtime friend, told CNN Wednesday.

Opinion: The smooth, unstoppable Dick Clark

“But then he would get deluged by people who were stroke victims and other people who had infirmities and they were such admirers of his fighting spirit,” said Dreier, R-California.

Broadcast pioneer

Born Richard Wagstaff Clark in Mount Vernon, New York, on November 30, 1929, he began his broadcast career working at a radio station managed by his father.

Clark’s “American Bandstand” began as a local TV show in Philadelphia in 1956. The show was picked up by ABC and broadcast nationally a year later.

By 1958, it was the show to watch, with 40 million viewers tuning in to learn about the latest in music.

“If you didn’t go on ‘American Bandstand,’ you hadn’t made it yet,” singer Aretha Franklin told CNN’s “AC360.”

The savvy entrepreneur was a pioneer in introducing African-American groups and other performers to millions of young TV viewers.

His audiences were among the first integrated on television.

In 1960, the Ku Klux Klan sent death threats to Clark when he brought his short-lived “American Bandstand” spinoff “The Dick Clark Show” to Atlanta. The National Guard was called in to protect the show and its integrated audience – black and white teens.

“Dick understood the connection that music had. It wasn’t about black, it wasn’t about white,” Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men told “Piers Morgan Tonight.”