At 5-3 with brown eyes and dark brown hair, Molittieri was a hit with TV watchers of the show practically from the moment she burst into their living rooms as a hyper-charged 14-year-old in 1957. Whether doing her personalized version of the bop with dancing partner Lou Salino or the push with Bill Ettinger, Molittieri commanded a viewer's attention.
For two years she was one of the more popular Bandstand regulars, until Dick Clark booted her from the show in June 1959.
Molittieri was one of Bandstand's "Southwest Philly kids," attending Bartram High School and living with her family on Passyunk Avenue. Among her Bandstand friends were several of the show's teen stars - including Justine Carelli, Bill Cook, Frank Brancaccio and Peggy Leonard. Like many of the teen dancers on the show, she had a national fan club.
Her popularity was given a big boost when on August 9, 1957 - just as Bandstand was wrapping up its first week as a national show - she was rushed from the studio for emergency surgery following an appendicitis attack. Fans eagerly tuned in during her recuperation.
But Molittieri's Bandstand days came to an abrupt end on June 24, 1959, when Clark asked her to stick around after the show.
It was a big week for Clark. That night his life story was to be showcased on the season finale of the popular TV show, This Is Your Life. Although the show typically surprised the show's subjects on the evening of the telecast, Clark's appearance had been leaked to ensure a large teen audience. Clark was also hard at work preparing for his first live prime-time TV special on ABC-TV on Sunday, Sept. 29.
But Clark had something else on his mind when he called Molittieri into his office. He wanted to know about the column she had begun writing for Teen magazine. Publisher Charles Laufer was paying Molittieri a small sum for each column she wrote about her Bandstand experience.
Since this flew in the face of Clark's iron-clad rule that amateur dancers on his show not benefit financially from their Bandstand exposure, Molittieri was told she was no longer welcome on the show.
Molittieri continued her column for a time and in the October 1959 issue of Teen she wrote about her ejection, calling the day she went home to school instead of to Bandstand "the loneliest day of my life."
But Molittieri rebounded quickly, moving to California to capitalize on her popularity. She continued her column, babysat Laufer's children and enrolled at Hollywood Professional School, where she counted former Mouseketeer Cubby O'Brien and the Adrissi Brothers as classmates.
She recorded for 'Teen Magazine records, including a 45 featuring The USA, written by Paul Anka, a record that is a collectors' item more than 50 years after its release. She attempted an acting career, but her most famous role was as an extra, appearing early in the film Where the Boys Are. She dated several of Hollywood's most eligible young men, including Don Adrissi, Mike Clifford, Tony Cosmo and Bobby Burgess.
But Molittieri eventually returned to her Philadelphia roots, where she married and had two daughters before dying at age 32 of either a heart attack or a stroke.
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.
Here's a video of The USA: