American Bandstand made its national debut on ABC-TV 55 years ago today, on August 5, 1957, with Dick Clark as its host. But Bandstand made its local debut on WFIL-TV in Philadelphia nearly five years earlier with a different host, Bob Horn.
Here's a timeline of some key events of the show's history during its nearly 12-year run in Philadelphia:
August 1950—Disc jockey Bob Horn, 34, moves from WIP radio in Philadelphia to WFIL radio.
1951—Horn adds television to his duties, at WFIL-TV.
May 13, 1952—Dick Clark, 22, joins staff of WFIL radio.
October 13, 1952—Bandstand teen dance program debuts on WFIL-TV with Horn as co-host with Lee Stewart. Horn is named director of recorded music for WFIL radio and WFIL-TV.
March 29, 1953—Rex Polier of the Philadelphia Bulletin calls Bandstand “the city’s beehive of juvenile jive.”
1953—Producer Tony Mammarella substitutes for the vacationing Horn.
January 1954—Lee Stewart is dismissed as co-host leaving Horn as the show’s only host.
March 1954—Poll by TV Guide votes Bandstand as the best music show in the Philadelphia area,
Fall 1955—Dick Clark substitutes for Horn for first time
June 21, 1956—Horn arrested for drunk driving, beginning a downward spiral that would cost him his job. Morals charges, another drunk driving charge following a serious accident, and tax evasion charges would eventually drive him from Philadelphia.
July 9, 1956—Clark is named permanent host of Bandstand.
March 1957—Clark forms his first Bandstand-related business, Click Corp.
August 5, 1957—American Bandstand makes its national debut on ABC-TV, three days after the network dropped Alan Freed’s Big Beat Show. Sixty-seven stations carried the first show and Clark received more than 29,000 letters in the five days following the premiere.
September 1957—Clark adds a weekly prime time network show and a daily local show on WFIL-TV, making him the most-exposed television personality in the United States with 8½ hours air time nationally per week and 13½ hours locally.
January 1958—Clark is on the cover of Teen magazine.
February 15, 1958—The Dick Clark Show debuts in New York City.
February 1958—Life magazine sends a reporter and photographer to Philadelphia to follow Clark for several days.
April 14, 1958—Time magazine reports that Clark will make $500,000 in 1958 and has sent out 300,000 photos of himself to fans since American Bandstand went national. He also makes an appearance on Edward R. Morrow’s Person to Person TV show in April 1958.
1958—Clark bars dancer Pat Molitierri, 16, from Bandstand after her picture appears on the cover of Teen magazine’s June issue.
May 24, 1958—Clark is on the cover of TV Guide.
November 1958—ABC cuts Bandstand from 90 minutes every weekday afternoon to an hour.
December 4, 1958—At Clark’s insistence, singer Lloyd price records a sanitized version if his hit song Stagger Lee so it can be played on Bandstand.
April 10, 1959—Clark is named man of the year by the Philadelphia Guild of Advertising Men.
June 1959—Clark is the surprise guest on the This Is Your Life TV program.
June 28, 1959—Clark dances with the McGuire Sisters in his first 60-minute live ABC special, The Record Years.
August 1959—Clark takes a month off from his Bandstand hosting duties to film his first Hollywood movie, Because They’re Young.
October 10, 1959—Article in Saturday Evening Post says Clark has been referred to as “The Czar of the Switchblade Set” and “the Kingpin of the Teen-age Mafia.”
November 1959—Clark publishes a book – Your Happiest Years.
November 18, 1959—Congressional investigators came to Philadelphia to interview Clark and Mammarella as part of a probe into payola. Clark would later testify before Congress in the spring of 1960. Neither man was ever charged with payola.
September 1960—The Dick Clark Show is canceled.
September 1961—Clark’s second Hollywood movie, The Young Doctors, premieres.
October 1962—Bandstand is cut to 30 minutes.
1963—Clark begins taping a week’s worth of Bandstands on Saturdays.
August 1963—Bandstand moves to Saturdays.
1964—Bandstand leaves Philadelphia for Los Angeles.
Do you have any stories about Bandstand, Dick Clark or growing up in the Philadelphia area during the show's run at WFIL-TV? Please share them in the comments section or e-mail them to me.