Syracuse University Magazine

Passings

Dick Clark ’51

Dick Clark, an icon of American entertainment and culture, died on April 18 in Santa Monica, California, at age 82. As the legendary host of American Bandstand in the ’50s and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve for decades, Clark was an ever-familiar presence on television and became affectionately known as “America’s oldest teenager.” He began his broadcasting career with radio station gigs in Central New York, working at WAER-FM as a Syracuse University student and at Utica’s WRUN radio, where his father was the station manager. During his senior year at SU, he joined WOLF-AM in Syracuse. After returning to WRUN and then moving to a Utica television station, Clark’s star took off when he headed to Philadelphia to join WFIL-AM. The young DJ soon became host of American Bandstand, a WFIL-TV program that was eventually broadcast nationwide on ABC. Through the show, Clark helped introduce rock ’n’ roll to mainstream America, welcoming the likes of such soon-to-be music legends as Buddy Holly, Chubby Checker, and Chuck Berry. Along with his on-air talents, Clark built a business empire as a TV producer, creating game shows, awards shows, and made-for-TV movies. Clark, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, maintained his fondness for and ties to Central New York and SU throughout his life. He was a supporter of SU and welcomed visiting students to his California offices. Recordings of some of his radio broadcasts are part of the Dick Clark Collection in the SU Library’s Special Collections Research Center. “I’ve always been very fortunate, no matter what my chronological age, to be somewhere near knowing what’s going on,” Clark said in a 1998 audio interview, held by the library. “That is very helpful, especially in the communications business.”



Hilton Kramer ’50, H’76

Hilton Kramer, a leading art critic of the past century, died on March 27 at age 84 near his home in Damariscotta, Maine. A native of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Kramer majored in English at SU, but shifted critical focus from literature to art after publishing a refutation of an essay on action painting by Harold Rosenberg. The graduate student’s critique of the art-world Brahmin caught the attention of Clement Greenberg ’30, editor of Commentary, and Kramer’s takes on the artists and issues of the day were seen there and in other influential arts and politics journals, including The New Republic, The Nation, and Arts Digest, where he became editor in 1961.  Kramer reached his pinnacle of public influence as an art critic for The New York Times (1965-82). During that period, as the center of aesthetic attention was shifting from modernism to pop art, minimalism, and postmodernism, Kramer became an unabashed defender of modernist “high art,” known for his broadsides against trendy isms, wherever he found them—and he found them everywhere. He left the Times to become co-founder and editor of The New Criterion, a journal that gave full voice to Kramer and like-minded conservative souls in the art world. Asked by Woody Allen if he was embarrassed by chance encounters with artists he had skewered, Kramer replied, “No, I expect them to be embarrassed for doing bad work.” He showed no sign of backing down in his last book, The Triumph of Modernism (2006).