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Dick Clark’s retirement lesson

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

Dick Clark, "America's oldest teenager," died yesterday of a heart attack at 82.

In the mid-1980s, when Clark was 56 -- an age when many people are focused on retirement planning and counting the years until they can stop working -- Clark was expanding his career. According to entertainment trade magazine Variety, by the time Dick Clark Productions went public in 1987, revenues exceeded $100 million a year.

In 2001, when Clark was 72, he sold Dick Clark Productions for $137 million to private investors, but he stayed on the job as chairman and CEO.

In 2007, when Clark was 78 -- three years after he had a massive stroke -- he sold the company again. This time, he also sold his own stake in the business, but he still wasn't ready to just rock on the porch. Despite Clark's physical handicaps, his remaining business, Dick Clark Communications, opened a chain of restaurants called Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grill. He was also instrumental in opening Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater in Branson, Mo.

And, of course, Dick Clark remained highly visible on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, which he debuted in 1972. Although Ryan Seacrest took over the primary hosting duties, Clark only missed appearing on the show for one year, in 2004, immediately following his stroke. Between 2005 and 2011, Clark shared the hosting duties with Seacrest. Some people were critical of his appearance, but Clark was no slacker with his voice actually growing noticeably stronger every year. And by any standard -- even those of Hollywood -- he looked pretty darn good.

Clark just wasn't the retiring type. He told the Los Angeles Times in 2001, "I've always said if I can stay healthy, I want to work until I die. ...  On the other hand, I admire people who can just hang it up and play golf. I'd go out of my mind."

To paraphrase what Clark used to say weekly on "American Bandstand" -- "It’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it." Clark's later life is a role model for anyone considering retirement -- his last decades had a great beat. and he never stopped dancing.

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1 Comment
Toby Speed
April 20, 2012 at 10:27 am

Great post, thanks.