OTR Interviews

Larry King: 'There will never be another Dick Clark'

TV icon pays tribute to life and legacy of TV/music pioneer


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 18, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Right now, the television legend, the one and only Dick Clark.


DICK CLARK, HOST, "AMERICAN BANDSTAND": Welcome to "American Bandstand" once again. This is Dick Clark.

-- thing called the Twist. Ladies and gentlemen, here's Chubby Checkers.


CLARK: Thank you, Charlie.

How long have you been making professional records?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think about -- about two years.

CLARK: Do what are your dreams? What's left?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To rule the world.

CLARK: Virtually everybody who was anybody appeared on the show, with the exceptions of Elvis Presley, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

This is the coldest New Year's we've ever had.

On a good thing called "American Bandstand"!

Three, two, one -- Happy 2006!


VAN SUSTEREN: Today, Dick Clark died from a massive heart attack. He was 82. But he will always be remembered as the tireless and ever youthful TV host and producer.

Talk show host Larry King knew Dick Clark very well. Larry King joins from Los Angeles. Larry, it's always great to see you.

LARRY KING, TALK SHOW HOST: Great seeing you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Larry, why was Dick Clark so successful, do you think?

KING: Well, I think he was Everyman. He was -- he was gentle. He was smart. In fact, he was brilliant in many regards. He understood the business. He loved what he did, and that came through.

He was a pioneer. He took risks. He hosted a show that set records for daytime television, "American Bandstand." He was a revolutionary. On that show in the '50s -- this may shock some -- he actually had blacks and whites dance together. This had never happened on television before.

Then he went to conceive quiz shows, produce massive entertainments. He produced the Golden Globes and many other shows of that like. Then he went on to do -- host and own his own radio network.

He was just an incredible force in American broadcasting that we've never seen his likes, really. There'll never be another Dick Clark. There are some -- Ryan Seacrest is certainly on the way to that. But right now, Dick Clark stands alone and to what he did. And what he did was touch everybody.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's always a little bit of a touch -- you know, I mean, the way you describe him, he had so much range, so many different things that he did. And it's something I've always admired about you. You could interview presidents, you do weather, you could do international crisis, you could do psychics, you could do anything.

I mean, he in many ways had incredible range like that. I mean, there was just -- it seemed like he could do everything in show biz, as he was a pioneer.

KING: He was a great generalist. Dick Clark -- you're right, he could do anything. He had a tremendous business sense. He knew -- he knew what the public wanted, and he had a way of touching that, like "American Bandstand." You look back on that, that was a genius show to bring those musical acts on and have those kids dancing to it. It was kind of hypnotic.

He was so creative. But at the same time, there was an air about him. He was -- he was -- I never saw him angry. I never saw him get upset. He had a way about him that endeared himself. I said the camera liked him. And he entered the room well. You know, he was -- he you were happy to see him. When Dick Clark -- if you opened the door and welcomed Dick Clark in, you smiled.

That's a wonderful, wonderful thing to have. He had -- he had presence. He had -- there's nothing he didn't have. And then he turned New Year's Eve into magic. He made that happen. He was almost equal to the event, without ever being above it. It was uncanny.

And I think what he learned a long time ago, those in the business -- Arthur Godfrey told me the same thing a long time ago, that the only secret in this business is there's no secret. Be yourself.

Dick Clark was himself. What you saw was what you got. That was him. Dick Clark was not different off the air than on.

VAN SUSTEREN: But it's sort of interesting. And not to bring you into this again, but you know, it's, like, Johnny Carson never offended. Dick Clark never offended. And you never offended in interviews. And you know, and all three of you had enormous success in the business, where, you know, today, you know, it's -- it's -- you know, people -- it's -- there's a lot of offending going on. But I mean, it's, like -- it's almost like, you know, you guys talk more to the audience.

KING: Yes, well, today, too many in broadcasting, where the guests are props for the host. The host tries to overcome -- you know, Johnny Carson's magic was he always wanted the guest to be funnier than him because he worked off the guest. He came back tomorrow. The secret is, the host comes back tomorrow night. He doesn't have to command you. He doesn't have to scream at you. He doesn't have to grab your throat and say, Watch me. There's too much of that.

And I always felt that I respected my audience, I respected my guests. I try to ask good questions, listen to the answers. Hopefully, the answers provided information. And I was a conduit. I didn't try to command it.

Now, Dick Clark, to his great credit, he never tried to overwhelm his musical guests. He didn't say the word "I" a lot. If you turn on a broadcast and the host is on more than the guest, something's wrong with the broadcast. Dick Clark was never on more than the musical guests that were on his show.

And that was a thing worthy of him. Carson was great on the "Tonight" show because he didn't -- he was there, he was funny, but he didn't command it. There's a lot to be said for that.

VAN SUSTEREN: How important was Dick Clark to the artists who appeared on "American Bandstand"? Did he change their lives? Was he enough of a force within the music industry that if you were lucky enough to be -- to perform on "American Bandstand," chances are that your career was getting an enormous boost?

KING: Good point. I would say he made careers. He certainly helped enormously people like Paul Anka, Bobby Darren, Connie Francis, so many others, so many musical groups that he had on. He would introduce new acts. Chubby Checkers and the Twist, which you played earlier. He had a lot to do with Chubby Checkers's enormous success.

Remember, that show was watched by -- teenagers buy records. They bought records then. They control the markets. And he was their magic. He was the -- Let's tune in "American Bandstand." And adults who watched it were hypnotized, too, because he had a way -- the way he would lean against that podium, the way he would introduce the artists, the camera work, following the dancers, revolutionized the business, and of course, prompted the acts into being larger than life and being enormous successes.

He -- he -- you know, you shouldn't use the word irreplaceable a lot because life goes on. But I can say it with regard to Dick Clark. He's one of a kind. He was irreplaceable. You won't see his likes again.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's sort of interesting. He was so important to careers, and yet the way you describe it is that he -- you know, he profiled his guests and everything -- his guests were the stars, in essence. I mean, he didn't try to overwhelm them. Yet I can't imagine that show being successful with any other host. You couldn't just sort of stick another host in it because he was so essential to the success of that show.

KING: Correct, because he understand that the artist counted. He had a way of bringing that artist forward, interviewing the artist well, making them perform in their best light. And he came back the next day.

You know, Paul Newman said that to me once. You know, you know the secret in this business is, you come back tomorrow. The host comes back. He was always in control. It was Dick Clark's "American Bandstand." So he knew he was smart enough to let the guests project because he was always there. His presence was always felt without having to commandeer it. He was a -- you could say he was a genius.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think he thought about -- obviously, we can't get into ... but I'm a little bit curious what he thought about "American Idol"? Was "American Idol" sort of, you know, "American Bandstand" current?

KING: Yes. Except one difference was, "American Bandstand" put on a lot of artists who were already well known, in addition to introducing new artists. "American Idol" is introducing new artists all the time.

I know that people associated with "American Idol" said today, there wouldn't be an "American Idol" without an "American Bandstand." That may be true. And I certainly think the only modern-day person in that vein of Dick Clark is Ryan Seacrest. As a businessman, as a host, as a generalist, he is the closest thing we have in that vein to Dick Clark. And that's the best compliment I could pay him.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was he a difficult or an easy interview when you interviewed him?

KING: Easy. He was forthcoming. He responded to the question. He listened to the question. He gave you the -- he knew what you wanted. He never gave you one word. He was -- you know what he was? He was Dick Clark, you know what I'm saying? He was Dick Clark.

In fact, he was one word. He wasn't Dick, he wasn't Clark. He wasn't Mr. Clark. He was DickClark. He wasn't a limousine guy. He was a regular guy. He was a regular guy who made it. And he loved his business.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Larry, I know you loved the business. And you know, I miss you immensely on it, although with you not being on the air, it gives the rest of us a chance to get some viewers. So -- but I appreciate you joining us tonight. It's always nice to see you, Larry.

KING: I miss you, too, Greta. It was always great being with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: It was always fun. Thank you, Larry.