It was not just a five day a week TV show that I attended, which emanated from ABC TV’s WFIL channel 6 studios in Philadelphia, there were some real personal moments in my life that many people never heard me speak of.
I remember first going to a party with Dick Clark and the Bandstand committee at the famous Palumbo’s restaurant, a show-business landmark in south Philadelphia in 1956, in traveling with Dick to an appearance at the Woodbury Country Club in New Jersey, driving to Allentown to the Frolicks Ballroom and weekends at the Starlight Ballroom on the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ where he had a record hop during the summer months each year.
I feel a little extra proud that Dick Clark came to my home in Drexel Hill, PA in 1957 for my 16th birthday party with 65 screaming kids. Dick Clark was the only adult besides my parents and grandparents who had thrown the party for me.
Dick Clark in 1958 came to Upper Darby High School for an assembly program that I requested him to participate in. Our class decided to pay him a talent fee of $500 for the appearance however, on the stage during that program he returned the check to me and the class treasurer and said it was a personal favor to Ronnie.
There are moments that I will never forget: all the stars who made appearances on the TV show daily in Philadelphia, however I really remember going to New York City to the Little Theater at 44th and Broadway where Dick Clark was doing a weekly show on Saturday night and I had a little part doing the Beechnut Chewing Gum commercial in the seats of the theater.
I remember meeting Elvis Presley with Dick at the Philadelphia Arena which was located next to our studio at 46th and Market, then I also remember going to Atlantic City where it was the first American appearance of the Beatles.
It was a concert for George Hammond’s Steel Pier but the size of crowd was so overwhelming that the concert was moved to the Convention Center on the boardwalk and I was on the stage with the Beatles and Dick Clark. What million-dollar memories for a 16-year-old kid.
One year for my birthday, Dick Clark and Pop Singer gave me a cake on television live and Dick asked me “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and I answered “a DJ just like you” and he said to me “Ronnie you are a mad impetuous fool! Why would you want this occupation?” and then he broke for a station break for the ABC affiliates to identify themselves.
Many times while traveling with Dick Clark to his various personal appearances at different locations I would expound on subjects that we were discussing and he said “Ronnie, you may be right but you are too honest to a fault.”
Another thing Dick Clark did for me exclusively was I asked him to write a letter of introduction to Drexel University’s Dr. Francis Davis, who was meteorologist at channel 6 at that time. I knew he had never done this for any other kid on the show but I am very proud that he accepted my request without a hesitation.
Last and foremost, I always told Dick that I wanted to have a radio and a TV show of my own and when I was given my first TV show on WPCA-TV in 1962 after graduating from his ABC Bandstand program, he accepted to be my first guest on my own program Spotlight on America on Channel 17.
Thank you, Dick, for being a big part of my life. I will never forget the moments with you.