Dick Clark was pretty much all business when he took over Bandstand in 1956 but, as time went on, he developed a laid-back personable style that allowed him to make light of situations that could have been catastrophic in the hands of a less-deft host.
Like when a record would get stuck in the control room and mess up the lip-syncing artist. Or like the time a set was designed in the form of a baseball field for the Impalas' Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home), a song it should be noted that had nothing to do with baseball.
Presumably, the kids in the studio had the same interests as the millions of young teens in the national TV audience. There was a time in American Bandstand's Philadelphia reign when kids all across the land were mad for "sick jokes," obnoxious in their day but tame by current standards. Although you never heard them on air, I'm sure they were shared in the bleachers of the WFIL-TV studio.
For those of you who are too young to have heard them directly (or for those of you who enjoy a brief trip to your crude, unsophisticated past), here are some examples:
But mommy, I don't want to go to Europe.
Shut up and keep swimming.
Daddy, can't I go out and play?
Shut up and deal.
Mommy, mommy, come quickly and bring the marshmallows; Daddy's on fire.
Mommy, mommy, why do I keep going in circles?
Shut up or I'll nail your other foot to the floor.
Mommy, can I go out and play with grandma?
No, you've already dug her up twice this week.
They don't call them the fabulous '50s for nothing.
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.