While Dick Clark, who died today of a heart attack at age 82, is famous for bringing future music superstars to the public eye on “American Bandstand” and his annual “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” specials, behind the scenes he was bringing his dogs to his office with him every day.
A 2001 story by Lori Golden in The Pet Press describes his production office: “Next to Dick’s large office is a tiny one occupied by his wife Kari, who assists him in everything he does. It is here where the dogs usually hang out, amidst the commotion of the busy phones and constant stream of people. ‘I don’t think anybody even notices them,’ says Kari. ‘Everybody sort of steps over them. They’re like part of the furniture.’”
Golden wrote that the office floor was strewn with chew toys, tennis balls and bones, and the supply closet was stuffed with plenty of dog treats.
Clark liked to name his dogs after hit songs: for example, Molly (Little Richard’s “Good Golly, Miss Molly”); Maybelline (the title of a Chuck Berry tune); and Eleanor (the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby”).
“Most of our dogs were brought up here in the office so they have office manners,” Clark told Golden. “We now have a new guy, a Weimaraner, who’s just a year old but quite tall. His name is Henry the 8th. He’s our eighth dog and it’s another rock ‘n’ roll song.”
The dogs were allowed to roam around the building, and they occasionally nosed their way into the conference room during tense business meetings.
“They’ll wander into a room full of 20 or 30 people going over a budget or heavy into a legal conversation,” Clark said. “It’s a nice little change of pace. The interesting part is that in a business atmosphere, especially if you’re in negotiations, things can get stressful. When the dogs enter, it breaks the ice. I’ll say sorry, we’re in a meeting, and they’ll turn around and leave. But everybody sort of laughs and it loosens up the meeting.”
The Clarks liked to throw office birthday parties for their pooches, where the honoree got to eat as many homemade meatballs as their age.
At home, the dogs had their own heated dog house. The Clark residence was also built with a shower large enough to accommodate both people and dogs.
Clark was 71 at the time of this interview, and noted that he had to be careful around his bigger dogs, especially Henry the 8th: “He’ll brush up against the side of you. It’s like clipping in football. You get penalized for that. But by the time you penalize Henry, he’s half a mile away.”
When Clark was growing up in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., his only pets were a hamster and chameleon. His uncle gave him a ceramic Dachshund when he was a young boy, and that became his favorite breed. Bernardo, a Doxie mix, got his name not from a song but because the Clarks found him on a street in San Bernadino, Calif. They took him to a shelter, but after he wasn’t claimed, the couple adopted him.
“One of the things that I’ve learned from animals, and everybody who’s been in their company, is that they just return your love and they don’t ask for a lot,” Clark said. “And that’s probably something we can learn as human beings. Be very open and be as loving as possible, and it comes back.”
PHOTO: Aaron of NEPA