American Bandstand Anniversary

(Gibson) On this day in 1957, American Bandstand first aired on U.S. TV. Dick Clark had replaced Bob Horn the previous year, when the show was still called Bandstand. Clark went on to host the show until 1989. Countless acts appeared on the show over the years, including ABBA, The Doors, Talking Heads, Madonna, Otis Redding, R.E.M. and Pink Floyd. Gibson takes a look back: Before American Bandstand became a national sensation, it was a local favorite of teenagers and housewives in Philadelphia. The show was simply called Bandstand and it aired live on weekday afternoons on WFIL. The program debuted in the fall of 1952, taking over an afternoon slot that was previously filled with broadcasts of British movies.

In its first incarnation, Bandstand was hosted by Bob Horn, who had a radio show (also titled Bandstand) that played the major hits of the day on WFIL radio. Initially, the program showed short musical films which were later seen as the precursor to the music video. But, about a month after the show began, its format switched (at Horn's insistence) to a dance program, where local teenagers could be seen hopping and bopping to popular tunes.

About four years into the run, there was a major shake-up. Horn had been arrested for drunken driving, which put WFIL owner Walter Annenberg in a bad position. Annenberg also owned The Philadelphia Inquirer, which at the same time was running a series on drunken driving. Horn was fired on July 9, 1956 and replaced with producer Tony Mammarella on an interim basis. more on this story

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