August 13, 2011
WAS AMERICAN BANDSTAND PART OF YOUR YOUTH?
By FRANK BARNING
Many of us who eventually graduated from Division Avenue High School in the early years of our school rushed home in order to not miss American Bandstand. Were you one of those people?
We loved the songs, Dick Clark, the style of the kids on the show and how they danced. One of the hooks was that the Levittown girls fell in love with some of the guys on the show. And speaking for the guys, we flipped (good 1950s word) over the blond bombshell, Justine Carelli.
The star of the show was ringmaster Clark. Then came Justine Carelli. Other favorites were Bandstand regulars Arlene Sullivan, Kenny Rossi, Pat Molittieri, Frani Giordano and Justine's dance partner, Bob Clayton. The girls thought that Clayton was "gorgeous", or as many pronounced it, "Gawgeous".
We watched the show in grainy black and white on our small screen televisions. It was part of the after school hours for many Levittown youngsters. A favorite segment was Rate the Records and we would give the songs played our ratings, too. It may have been the first time we heard Short Shorts, Who's Sorry Now?, Tequila, Get a Job and hundreds of others. I remember many voters saying, "I like the beat," and "It would be good to dance to."
In the early years of the show, it came out of Philadelphia. Clark made several Phily kids into stars including Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobby Rydell. In the 1978 movie "Grease", the kids went to Rydell High. Avalon is known by later generations as the old guy in the white suit in "Grease". He played a character named Teen Angel and sang "Beauty School Drop Out."
If you have any American Bandstand memories, send them to Frank Barning, firstname.lastname@example.org.