With the launch of his World of Talent program three weeks earlier, he was the only TV personality to be seen on a national network every day of the week. His new book on teenage behavior was flying off the shelves and his first Caravan of Stars music tour was packing them into auditoriums everywhere it stopped. American Bandstand was the country's top-rated daytime television show and he owned at least part of 28 businesses connected to the growing music and TV industries.
The movie in which he was the top-billed star was undergoing final edits in preparation for a spring release and tonight he'd step out of the comfort of the ABC-TV network to guest star on NBC's Kraft Music Hall with Perry Como. NBC took full advantage of Clark's marketability, promising that the congenial Clark would actually sing on the program.
That was only half true. Clark did, indeed, perform on the program but, true to the Bandstand tradition, he lip-synced to his own recording of Bye, Bye Blackbird.
In many cultures, black birds are seem as omens or messengers of impending change - sometimes good, sometimes bad. In Clark's case, it would lean toward the darker side.
Much of Philadelphia was in mourning that week, following the death of South Philadelphia native Mario Lanza under mysterious circumstances a week earlier. Within a week, Clark's Caravan of Stars would unravel following a riot in Kansas City and within a month, Clark would be ordered to divest himself of his music business interests by ABC president Leonard Goldenson as the threat of a congressional investigation into the music business appeared likely.
But Clark was sitting on top of his world when he appeared on the Como show that Thursday night in 1959:
In 1974, Clark did something of a reprise of the number (this time live) on the Dinah Shore show. You can see that clip here.
Author Larry Lehmer is writing a book about the Philadelphia years of American Bandstand. The book is called Bandstandland. It has lots of details about the show you've never read before. If you have any stories about American Bandstand or Dick Clark that you'd like to share in the book, contact Larry.