Dick Clark Made My Father's Dream Come True

A Lehigh Valley man performed a song on 'American Bandstand' in November 1960.

Editor's Note: New Year's Eve brings Dick Clark to mind for many people who watched his Times Square broadcasts. In that spirit, we share this column by Patch Local Editor Dino Ciliberti to help keep Clark's memory alive on the first new year's since his passing in April 2012.

For most of us, Dick Clark was the man who ushered in a new year.

For others, he was the host of numerous game shows. And for the older generations, he was the man who brought music to the mainstream and the masses.

For my father, Frank Ciliberti of Forks Township, Dick Clark will always be a special part of his life.

It's not every day you can tell people that you're father appeared on "American Bandstand."

But that's what my father did long ago before I was born, performing solo on the popular show that Clark made famous first in Philadelphia and later in Los Angeles.

My father was one of first in music history to cover "Rock Around the Clock."

Now had he been the first to sing that song, like Bill Haley and the Comets, our lives may have been different. Who knows, I might not have even been around.

My father, who lived in Media, actually appeared on "American Bandstand" three times, twice as a dancer when kids would head to the studios and dance to the tunes Clark played.

The first time was for the spotlight dance. The second time Clark personally picked him for the record review segment.

But my father, who had recorded "Rock Around the Clock," mentioned to Clark that he didn't want to get in trouble because he had a record of his own.

Clark then invited him to perform his song.

"He said thanks for letting him know about the record," my father said Thursday. "Then he said, 'have your manager get in touch with me so you can appear on the show.'"

On Nov. 20, 1960, under the name Franny Boye, my father sang "Rock Around the Clock." Dion also appeared on the program singing "Teenager in Love." 

My father came on around 5 p.m. and started lipsynching the words.

But because he was wearing a dark suit and couldn't be seen too well on TV, Clark told him to remove his jacket. My father slung it over his shoulder.

"After the show, Mr. Clark came over and interviewed me. He told the audience that he asked me to remove my jacket as I was performing and that I did it just like Frank Sinatra," my father said.

Clark's death from a heart attack Wednesday shocked my father, who had kind words for Clark.

"He was very professional and made you feel very comfortable," my father said. "He made you feel very much at ease, especially being on national television."

Every year, it was a fact that my family would watch Dick Clark count down a new year on Dick Clark's "New Year's Rockin' Eve." Even my son started getting interested in the show because a lot of his favorites were performing.

Watching Clark push forward after a stroke was both heartbreaking and inspiring. He wasn't going to let this obstacle stop him from doing what he loved.

I also would watch Dick Clark with my grandmother during the 1970s when he hosted the "$25,000 Pyramid."

I would marvel that this was the man my father had performed for and met.

Even once going to Clark's American Bandstand restaurant outside the King of Prussia mall seemed like a treat.

Hearing the news that Clark had died was like losing an old friend.

I had just stepped on his star a few weeks ago on the Hollywood Walk of Fame during a vacation to California.

Dick Clark will always have a special meaning to my family. For my father, though, Clark gave him the opportunity of a lifetime.

Clark made dreams come true. My father will be forever grateful.

Jack Panella December 31, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Dino, it's great to read about your father's accomplishments and the opportunities presented by Dick Clark. By all accounts that I have read, Clark was a caring professional.
Kathleen Unger January 01, 2013 at 02:40 PM
When I was a teenager in the 50's, we would rush home from school to watch Bandstand on our small 9" TV set. We enjoyed the gals and guys who danced on the show and wished we could be there too. It was the best of times.


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