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Dick Clark, 1929-2012

Aired April 18, 2012 - 16:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: the death of TV legend Dick Clark, the longtime host of "American Bandstand" and one of the founding icons of rock 'n' roll.

Also, a CNN exclusive. Wolf interviews the secretaries of state and defense. Hillary Clinton sends a tough new message directly at North Korea's young leader and we will hear some very blunt talk on Syria, Iran and Afghanistan.

Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. I'm Candy Crowley and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We are following the breaking news this hour, the death of the longtime television personality Dick Clark. For decades, he was the host of the iconic music show he created, "American Bandstand," and later he became to be a fixture on New Year's Eve broadcasts.

We want go straight to CNN entertainment correspondent Kareen Wynter in Hollywood.

Kareen, what are you hearing there?

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, not a lot of details we're getting in at this hour.

We're trying to find out what exactly happened here with Dick Clark. There are reports that Clark suffered a heart attack. We are still trying to confirm that, but it is no secret that he had medical issues over the years that really impacted him and impacted his health and impacted his career. Back in 2004, he suffered a massive stroke.

Dick Clark is someone, he is an entertainer that we all grew up with and even watching him now, and while he's taken a step back from the spotlight again because of his medical issues, he is still a part or he was still a part of the very popular annual New Year's show "New Year's Rockin' Eve."

I remember watching him in January and it was quite an abbreviated appearance and it is now taken over by Ryan Seacrest. But he never lost his touch. He wasn't the same in communicating as a result of the stroke, but it's the Dick Clark that you will remember growing up.

His nickname, interestingly enough, Candy, was America's oldest living teenager. Some interesting things about Dick Clark. He was a six-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning television producer, so many projects behind his name. So many different people he's worked with over the decades.

It wasn't just "New Year's Rockin' Eve" that he was attached to, but also the Golden Globe Awards and also "The $25,000 Pyramid." Remember that popular game show. I believe it was back in the 1980s that we watched and he also hosted "American Bandstand." Quite beloved and very, very talented. You see him there with Ryan Seacrest whom he had worked closely with over the years and again such a tremendous loss not just for America and the entertainment community.

People who have just grown up with Dick Clark and really appreciated his true talents over the years -- Dick Clark dead at 82, Candy. We're standing by to find out if it was indeed a heart attack that he suffered.


CROWLEY: Thanks, Kareen. I will let you get back to your reporting on this because we want to go now to CNN's Sandra Endo.

She has more on Dick Clark, 82 years old, and his remarkable career.


SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was known as the world's oldest teenager. Dick Clark began his career on the weekly dance party that would later be known as "American Bandstand" in Philadelphia in 1956. The show became a national and later an international sensation, after it was picked up by ABC one year later.

In spite of racial attitudes at the time, Clark was a pioneer in promoting African-American artists like Percy Sledge, the Silhouettes, the Supremes and Gladys Knight and the Pips. An appearance on "American Bandstand" launched many a musical career and from Jerry Lee Lewis to Janet Jackson, they all wanted Dick Clark to give their record a spin.

DICK CLARK, ENTERTAINER: If you look at the history of "American Bandstand" it covers everything from popular music back to the big band days. When we started in 1952, it was Perry Como and Eddie Fisher and the Four Aces and so forth, through the rock 'n' roll period, country music, rhythm and blues, rap music, heavy metal. It is everything.

ENDO: But music wasn't his only beat. Clark proved to be a prolific businessman and television icon hosting the game show "The $25,000 Pyramid," "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes" and of course the annual "New Year's Rockin' Eve" broadcast.

He turned his Dick Clark Productions into a multimillion-dollar media empire.

CLARK: There will be some other surprises along the way.

ENDO: Clark also had a hand in global fund-raiser Live Aid and in the grassroots Farm Aid. He was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

CLARK: It has a nice beat. See, you said the magic words.

ENDO: From the early days of rock to the present, Dick Clark had a way of bringing us the tunes that had a good beat and memories of Saturday afternoon sock hops.

I'm Sandra Endo reporting.


CROWLEY: Let's bring back in Kareen Wynter out in California for us.

Kareen, I know you're looking to see what actually was the cause of death, but, in fact, those of us who watched Dick Clark over the past several years, since, I think about 2004, had noticed obviously that he had a pretty severe stroke.

WYNTER: Absolutely.

That's what I was alluding to earlier, watching him in January. It seemed as if his appearances on these annual shows, "New Year's Rockin' Eve," which again Ryan Seacrest took over, you saw photo of him a short time ago, it seemed as if these were very, very heavily produced and he tried to speak and he tried to reach out to fans to wish them, of course, a happy new year.

And it's a picture we have grown up with, we have connected with, and people would ring in the new year, year after year with Dick Clark, and you can tell it was something he wanted to do, but it was always very difficult understanding him as a result of that stroke.

He was never quite truly the same, but he wanted to still be in the spotlight. This is a man who loved the business and who loved what he did and who wanted to still deliver to fans, but there was definitely a noticeable change after 2004, after the stroke that he was never able to fully recover, Candy.

CROWLEY: Yes, an incredible trooper. It did seem as though he really was America's oldest living teenager until that stroke and then you saw him begin to age. It just never seemed to change from the time he started on TV and then we began to see him sort of in the turn of the century and then the stroke.


WYNTER: You talk about an entertainer who was so relatable and in that wonderful piece that was just produced, there were so many different genres of music, whether it was rap or whether it was pop. He was the guy. He knew the industry and he connected with so many different artists out there. He wasn't just the face of entertainment and I think that's why people loved him and I think that's why people of all ages even tuned in to the annual New Year's Eve show, even though they knew Dick Clark wasn't the guy steering that ship anymore. It's because he was someone who we were comfortable seeing on air over the years and who people could relate to and just quite frankly, loved. For that big reason, I believe, he will be sorely missed.

CROWLEY: And certainly someone that we have come to expect on New Year's Eve.

We want to bring in CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Anderson, I know you also we're beginning to expect to see on New Year's Eve, but I know you have some thoughts about Dick Clark.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, just a couple of things.

One of the things I found remarkable about him is that as a child we all knew him as a TV host and as a TV personality, but as I kind of grew up in the TV business and started looking more into business, just him as a businessman, there are very few people I think who came of age in the time that he did in television who also owned and produced television content.

You know, his production company, and I think his model of being a TV host and businessman is something that somebody like Ryan Seacrest has really followed and kind of taken even to a whole new level, but I think Dick Clark really broke the mold in that sense of producing content, owning content and not just being a hired gun, somebody who would host a game show. He also had ownership stake in the game show, obviously, made a tremendous amount of money over the years.

And certainly key to that was just owning real estate in the world of television, and his, you know, being on New Year's Eve every year became a tradition for so many people and a tradition that has continued, even though, as you pointed out, Candy, just in the last couple of years he had suffered a stroke and really was not at the level that he had once been at.

And I think it's very telling that he kind of brought in Ryan Seacrest into the New Year's Eve franchise because Ryan really has taken up the mantle or at least the model of Dick Clark as an on-air person as well as someone who owns content and produces content.

CROWLEY: He was kind of one of the original TV moguls I think in some ways.

Anderson, can you stand by just one second? Because I understand Kareen Wynter has some new information. I will be right back with you.

Kareen, if you're with me, what have you got?

WYNTER: Hi, Candy.

Yes, it's short. I will just read this to you. This is just now coming in from the family saying that: "Entertainment icon Dick Clark passed away this morning at the age of 82 following a massive heart attack. It was announced by his family. Clark, 82, had entered St. John's Hospital." This is in Santa Monica last night. It was for an outpatient procedure, Candy, and it also says here attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful. He's survived by his wife, Kari, and his three children, Richard, Duane, and Cindy.

We are now able to confirm Dick Clark passing away following a massive heart attack -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Kareen.

A life well lived as you were pointing out, Anderson. I wonder, Anderson, did you ever meet him? Did you have occasion to get to know him?

COOPER: I think I met him once or twice, but I did not know him well in any way.

I think we had sort of briefly met in some public events. I can't even honestly remember when they were, but the interesting thing about Dick Clark is I think everybody sort of feels like they knew him in one realm or another.


COOPER: And there was something also about the fact that he never seemed to change. I mean, it's -- there's a number of people who kind of have looked the same through the years, but Dick Clark looked the same decade after decade after decade. It was often the butt of jokes that he took part in as well, but you look at those images of him from the '60s and '70s, '80s, everybody could identify Dick Clark.

He's probably one of the most recognizable people that all of us of all ages have grown up with and know from one realm or another, whether it is hosting a game show, hosting a music program or hosting New Year's Eve. There's something so iconic about New Year's Eve as this celebration that we all take part in and having Dick Clark be a part of that evening even as you said, in later years, when his health had been failing and he wasn't, you know, in full charge of that program anymore and he turned over the reins largely to Ryan Seacrest and others.

He still had his hand in it and people still want to check in with Dick Clark on New Year's Eve because it's part of that American tradition.

CROWLEY: Yes. He became a tradition in so many ways. It strikes me, Anderson, that you're on to sort of why -- I think the people who last in entertainment and who last in television seem to be the ones that we think are the most like us. He has spanned almost three-and-a-half generations of television watchers, my parents, me, my kids.

COOPER: Right.

CROWLEY: And then the generation coming up, and I think he really just did seem like somebody you might just run into in the coffee shop or next door. That was his particular talent.

COOPER: Interestingly enough, too, is for all his recognition and all his recognizable-ness, I don't think most really people know very much about Dick Clark, and I think that was part of his appeal, in a way, that almost, he could be any man, anybody and you could kind of project on to him whatever you wanted and whatever you thought he might be.

He never interjected himself to really tell you one way or the other who he really was and it wasn't about knowing every detail of Dick Clark's personal life or his life. Even to hear his family life, I don't think most people would like he had three children or where he lived or what kind of a life he lived.

I think he came of age at a time when that was possible, to be as recognized as he was and yet kind of unknown in many ways still.

CROWLEY: Have a life, yes.

COOPER: Yes. And he was not a controversial figure in any way and he warrant taking stands on anything that would be controversial. It wasn't his job and certainly it wasn't how he saw his role. He was there to entertain and also on the business side.

CROWLEY: Sure. He wasn't one of those people you said, well, yes, he sang and we heard him on occasion sing certainly "Auld Lang Syne."

But his talent literally was hosting.


CROWLEY: He was an entertainer who made you feel like I have got these great -- look at these folks dancing. Or I have got this great new song I want you to hear.


COOPER: He also made it seem very easy. It is very easy to say -- people, you can make the joke all of the time about people who are well known on television, what do they actually do? They're not a reporter. They're not a singer, they're just a host and what exactly is that?

It's a hard thing to define. It's a hard skill set to really put your finger on, but it is a skill set. And it is something that is difficult and he could make it seem effortless. He would make it seem like he was just a guy with the microphone talking to you and interviewing people and moving things along. And it always seemed to move smoothly with Dick Clark.

That takes a lot of rehearsal and it is a skill set and there were few people like him that were able to not only do that as a presence on TV like he could, but also to know that behind the scenes he had his hands involved in everything and, in fact, in some cases owned the program that he was on. Most people would probably just see him as just the guy with the microphone directing things.

He owned it, was making an awful lot of money from it, and did that decade after decade after decade.

CROWLEY: Right, and never seemed to change. The Dick Clark I recognize is the one my father recognized and the one my son recognized, which was so remarkable

But you're absolutely right. He did the toughest job in television for more than 40 years, which is to let people, you know, turn on the TV and let them into your living room and say -- and it was never really about Dick Clark. It was about these contestants on the "Pyramid".

COOPER: Absolutely.

CROWLEY: Or it about this New Year's Eve celebration and he did --

COOPER: Which is why so many people liked him -- I mean, who was Dick Clark? You know, he was the guy -- he seemed like a friendly guy and seemed like a nice guy, you recognized him and you have a history with him and you don't know much about him. But it's not really about him. He's just one of those guys that you just kind of know and you like and you welcome him into your home.

CROWLEY: Where do you think he stands with TV's early age, golden age, et cetera, et cetera. I mean, he just basically remains an icon, does he not?

COOPER: He does. You know, the term broadcaster comes behind. And there are fewer and fewer people who are broadcaster. You think Regis Philbin, somebody who has had this remarkable career in television, still has a remarkable career ahead of them, still is going strong, but who has a good skill set and is a very likable presence.

And, you know, there were -- I think in the so-called golden age of television, there were a number of people who were accomplished broadcasters and it's a smaller and smaller number. People are much more now known as your reality TV star or your journalist or reporter. There are few people that kind of span the spectrum of skills that somebody like Dick Clark had.

He could be comfortable in a music setting. He could be comfortable in a game show setting. He could be comfortable even in a kind of newsy setting when he was on the air about it, and an entertainment setting.

And there's very few people like that who kind of span that skill set.

CROWLEY: Anderson, stand by a second.

We want to bring in Jack Cafferty -- because, Jack, I am told that you had met Dick Clark and might have some thoughts.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm probably the only guy at CNN who's close to his age, but I did a local newscast here in New York called "Live at Five" for years, and Dick was not a frequent guest, but he was on several times, I got to know him a little bit.

He was the quintessential I think television performer in the sense he was non-threatening. He was very cool, extremely smooth. I never saw him, in all of the years watching "American Bandstand," which we all did as kids, you never saw him flustered. You never saw him nervous. You never saw him ducking a curveball.

But I think more importantly and one of the points that really needs to be made about him is that show, "American Bandstand," changed the landscape of music and to a lesser degree even race relations.

You've got to remember, back in the mid-50s, this was a very racially divided country, and the racism was a lot more obvious and more pronounced than it is now. Black artists like Little Richard and Chuck Berry and Fats Domino and some of the early rock and roll and rhythm and blues performers couldn't get their music played on white radio stations. They called it race music and they wouldn't play it unless, of course, you slipped them a couple of bucks under the table.

So it was very hard for a lot of these performers to get exposure to the white audience and the white audience is where the money was, the white kids were the ones that could afford to go out and buy the records.

And when people like Chuck Berry appeared on "American Bandstand," it was because -- you remember the old tag line, it was a good beat and easy to dance to. It was all about the music. It wasn't about what color or what gender or what social position, it was just about the music. And these were breakthrough performances in terms of exposure to the white audience for people that otherwise might have struggled to a great degree in obscurity in the music business.

So a lot of the white rock 'n' roll artists, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis took their music from black artists and black performers. You listen to some of the early records that were recorded by Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, too, in particular, it was all music that was written by Chuck Berry or performed by Little Richard, done by Big Mama Thornton, black blues artist who recorded "Hound Dog".

But it was all -- the white people took this music and made money with it and got it played on the radio station. Dick Clark gave exposure, white exposure to these black artists and in that way, he affected I think a very profound change to the music landscape and the opportunities are available to black recording artists.

CROWLEY: Jack, I have one more question for you and Anderson, but I want to reset for my audience. Dick Clark, "American Bandstand", host of the "Pyramid," the game show, "New Year's Rockin' Eve," has died today of what we are told was a massive stroke after some sort of outpatient procedure yesterday. He was 82 years old.

Jack, this is a man who has been in television since late '50s. What do you think the key thing that accounts for his staying power?

CAFFERTY: Well, he was good at what he did. Anderson talked a little about that. He had a set of skills like Johnny Carson had. I mean, he was just -- he was beyond cool. He was very smooth, and he looked young and TV is all about -- what was Rather's book was called? "The Camera Never Blinks."

He was television worthy for a whole lot longer than most of us ever are, and, you know, he was never threatening. He was likable. You couldn't watch a Dick Clark program and say, gee, that guy is -- you know, got an attitude, or I don't like him or he's snotty and sarcastic.

He was vanilla ice cream and a loaf of white bread. But he was good at it. He was the best at it that I ever saw, except maybe for a guy like Johnny Carson.

And so, you know, he was -- plus he was smart. He was a smart businessman. He knew how to market himself. He knew how to market his programs, how to merchandise the content that he owned.

So, he was the whole package and revolutionary. He was the first ones to come along that had all of that going for him. So, he got a lot of attention and he knew how to stay in the spotlight and make it a career that lasted a very long time.

He was a nice guy. I remember when he would come on "Live at Five." He was a nice guy. He never came on with attitude. He never had an entourage.

You know, he was just Dick Clark. He was the same guy I saw on "American Bandstand" in Philadelphia in 1954.

CROWLEY: And, Anderson, pretty much the same question to you with this twist. Is the template now broken? Or -- you mentioned Ryan Seacrest a couple of times, is he in that same mold? Is there no one -- because of the times he lived in and the person he was that's never going to be another Dick Clark?

COOPER: You know, I don't think that's true. I mean, I think he has actually -- I think he raised the bar in television and kind of gave a lot of people who followed him an example of what was possible. I think he opened a lot of doors and made it possible to own content, to -- you know, to be more than just a hired gun working on a game show or working on a music program.

He really -- it's a difficult thing to do in the television business to break through and own content and have a stake in what you're doing, but he really kind of made that possible, and I think a lot of people have followed in his mold. I mean, I think Ryan Seacrest is the best example of that and has really taken it to an extraordinary level, and I think Ryan has, you know, the work ethic that Dick Clark had.

I mean, Dick Clark was a very tireless worker and Ryan Seacrest I think, you know, is probably one of the hardest working guys in the television business, and has his fingers in a lot of different aspects of the business, and I think that's possible now in a way almost that it wasn't possible before. I mean, you can now work for, you know, have programs on different networks. You can branch out in a way that I think was more difficult maybe even when Dick Clark was doing it because I think you had -- back then, it was more you had a relationship with one network and it was very hard to try to have multiple relationships, which I think is something that is possible now.

So, I don't think it's that there is not going to be anybody else like him. I think there will be and there continue to be, and I think as the Internet certainly grows, that is going to grow as well. People will be able to have kind of empires like Dick Clark had.

But as a kind of multi-talented broadcaster, you know, we see only a few people like him who are in the business. It's not an easy thing to do. He made it look easy and that's the extraordinary thing. He made it look effortless.

And it was anything, but effortless. And I think that's a testament to his skill. I mean, it's one thing to be able to do all of the things he did. It's another thing to be able to do them and make it look like you're just talking, because he was doing a whole lot more than just talking.

CROWLEY: That, he was.

Anderson Cooper and Jack Cafferty, two of my best buds, here helping me through the breaking story this hour.

Dick Clark died of a massive heart attack at the age of 82 -- entertainer, businessman extraordinaire. Again, Dick Clark dead at the age of 82.

We'll be right back.


CROWLEY: We are following the breaking news this hour: the death of television icon Dick Clark at age 82.

That is Times Square where so many people saw Dick Clark. It seems like every New Year's Eve of my growing up he was the host of "Rockin' New Year's Eve," and even did it into this century, even after a stroke in 2004 -- just the guy you expected to see when you turned on the television at midnight on New Year's Eve to watch the ball drop.

I want to bring in -- we have another picture here and that's Hollywood. Of course, another place where, frankly, Dick Clark earned this well-deserved reputation of a man who was spanned almost -- more than three generations of TV watchers. He was the host of "Pyramid." He did a number of things in Hollywood. So two cities that were just key to the life and the times of Dick Clark.

I want to bring in our "Showbiz Tonight" host A.J. Hammer. He joins us.

You know, A.J., we were talking you and I during the break about how everyone is going to look at this and have sort of a different reaction to it because we all in some ways across a lot of generations grew up with Dick Clark.

A.J. HAMMER, ANCHOR, HLN'S "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Rarely, Candy, am I sitting here working, we're in production for "Showbiz Tonight" right now, and see news cross as I'm working and I get emotional, and I had to take a moment and stop when this news crossed.

Dick Clark, as Anderson was talking about before the break, was just such a pioneer and for all intents and purposes for me has everything to do with why I do what I do for a living. He really was the first person to carve that path of radio personality, radio disc jockey, all about the music-turned-television personality. That was the path that I chose.

And Dick, without my knowing it, as I was getting started at 15 years old, was the person that I was emulating and aspiring to be like.

And for me, when I had the opportunity back in the 1990s, I was working for VH-1 and Dick released a book and he came on my show, Candy, and I was at that time accustomed to talking to every big superstar in the music world who would come and sit down with me and we'd have a lively chat about their music and the world, except when Dick Clark came in, and I knew he was coming in, I was nervous.

I never would get nervous before an interview asked and my idol was coming in and he sat down and something after his presence after a couple of seconds put me right at ease and we wrapped up the interview. He pulled me into my office and closed the door and said some very complimentary things to me which just is something that I've carried with me through to this day and that has kept me going through to this day which is I guess when this news broke I had this intense personal reaction.

And I think I'm not alone. I think anybody who does what I do is feeling that way, but of course, it's also the people that he connected with and the ease with which he connected them, whether it was on "American Bandstand" or on his weekly countdown radio show that I listen to religiously every week, or on "bloopers and practical jokes."

Dick had this way of communicating whether it was in an interview situation with a massive star and think about the "Pyramid Show," Candy. On "Pyramid" you had stars right alongside everyday people. Everybody was treated the same and he just did it so smoothly, and as Anderson said, so effortlessly. And it was something that I think any broadcaster aspired to including myself.

So just a tough, tough thing, but I guess I smile knowing that he really impacted so many lives and entertained so many people for such a long time.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: A.J. Thank you for taking time. I know you've got to run, but I appreciate your thoughts.

I want to bring in Congressman David Dreier of California.

David, I know someone who represented your potion of southern California as long as you have surely must have known Dick Clark.

REP. DAVID DREIER, CALIFORNIA (via telephone): Well, Candy, this is a very great shock to me, and just as I was listening to A.J. and it's great to hear what an inspiration Dick was for so many people.

But for me, he became a very close personal friend. I just had dinner with him about ten days ago with Dick and his wife Carrie. And, you know, one important myth that needs to be shattered is it's true that in 2004 suffered a very serious stroke, but that man has been fighting so hard to recover, and in fact, at dinner the other night he reminded me that he is the world's oldest teenager.

And he said that to me just a couple of weeks ago and so this guy, I mean, "American Bandstand" was an appropriate name for a show that was known all over the world because he was a patriotic American. He was somebody who - I talked him about government policy and as A.J. talked about the advice and counsel he got from Dick Clark. Dick used to give me a lot of advice on television. He used to always tell me to straighten my necktie because he said I had a crooked necktie, but he had this great sense of humor.

We were -- we were at dinner the other night laughing so hard, and so I want to say that Dick Clark, even though he suffered a stroke, Candy, he was very, very healthy up until the last week or so. And I've also got to say that Dick Clark is somebody who very much wanted to encourage young people. And he also was able to really blaze the trail in dealing with race relations in this country, and he and I had a number of discussions about that.

Now, he really -- he was the one that brought African-Americans on to the forefront, on to the scene. He introduced them into the music world through his programs, and I think that that was just great. And I -- he gave me a lot of great advice, and I'm going to miss his advice and counsel. He was a great guy.

CROWLEY: You know, it's a -- I can hear how much you will miss him in his voice. You know, this amazing to me. And I want you to just hang on a second because I want to read you something and then get back you.

It's amazing how many people we have had on, yourself, along with A.J. and now, this statement from Ryan Seacrest in which he said "I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dick Clark. He has truly been one of the greatest influences in my life." And it seems to be the theme that is coming through this day is how many people's lives he seemed to have influenced in major ways including yours.

DREIER: You know, I would tell you. I was sitting with him when Ryan Seacrest called him right after they were together for New Year's eve. And you know, there were a lot of people, a lot of things were written and Dick debated whether or not he should continue to go on for the New Year's eve programs.

But, let me tell you what happened. Couple of years or the last couple of years, he has told me. He said, you know, I think that I'm not going do it again this year. And what happened is he was mixed. He was mixed, Candy, because some people said, God. Why should Dick Clark having suffered his stroke continue to appear on television? But then he would get deluged by people who were stroke victims and other people who had infirmities and they were such admirers of his fighting spirit because he really didn't have that.

And so he anguished over whether or not to continue doing it. And at the end of the day, of course, he loved it. But at the same time, he knew that his continued diligence was providing inspiration to a lot of people who were going through difficult, facing infirmities themselves.

CROWLEY: Yes. There was something that I thought was very brave about it and very happy about it. He always seemed happy when they would come to him. Sometimes his wife would appear in these later new year's eve times when he did cameo thing, but he was also happy doing it.

DREIER: I will share with you and clean it up. One of the lines that was used because his wonderful wife, Carrie, would kiss him at midnight, right. And one time, she kissed him and he whispered to her and everyone said oh, well, was -- did Dick whisper oh, Carrie, I love you. I can't live without you? You're the most important thing in my life?

And he said no, he whispered get out of the shot. I work alone. I mean. So, I'm just saying that his sense of humor was - I mean, it has continued and I got lots and lots and lots of other great jokes that I can share up until two weeks ago when we had dinner of Dick Clark and that's why he was amazing.

He was so -- he was always committed to paying his taxes. He always told me that he wanted to make sure he paid his taxes and every penny of his taxes. He was a proud taxpayer because he believed in the United States of America. And the other thing I think that goes without saying is people have seen it. I mean, he was an amazingly sharp businessman.

While he suffered a stroke, his mind was so intact. I mean, I can tell you there are things I missed that he immediately pointed out to me on more than a few occasions. So I just want to say the reason -- in fact, I just said last week. I said, you know, Dick has had this stroke. I said Dick will live to be 100 years old. I said he went through therapy. He was constantly working to get better and get better, so I just want to say that this guy was an amazing fighter. And I'm going to miss him a lot.

CROWLEY: I can hear that in your voice, David.

Congressman David Dreier. Thank you so much for your reflections this afternoon.

We will have more coming up after this.


CROWLEY: You're looking, of course, at a picture of Dick Clark who died today of a massive heart attack at the age of 82.

We want to bring inner have Verdine White for earth, wind and fire. He is joining me on the phone.

Mr. White. Thank you so much for being here.

I understand you played "American Bandstand." I didn't know the band was that old.

VERDINE WHITE, BASSIST, EARTH, WIND AND FIRE: Yes. We are 41 years and counting. And we did all of Dick's on new year's eve specials. We did the specials with us, Natalie Cole, Johnny Mathis and he was a wonderful guy to work for and he was a great pioneer. He gave you everything you needed so you can be the best you could be for his television show.

CROWLEY: You know, a couple of our guests so far today had talked a lot about the racial boundaries that Dick Clark helped to break down in music. Could you speak to that?

WHITE: Yes, most definitely. Of course, we have "soul train," the late Don Cornelius started but, they both sort of ran parallel to each other and Dick was actually one of the first one to give African- Americans to be on television. And we used to watch him at home when we were kids and we couldn't wait to watch it. So, you know, you had an opportunity to see yourself through the music that Dick played.

CROWLEY: And when you first get that call that Dick Clark wants to feature your band, what is that like?

WHITE: Well, of course, you know. You're nervous as all get out. And of course, when you need him he would always so relax and he would always give you a big hug. Whatever you needed, he was there for you. And that was the one thing artists need, particularly of somebody of his particular caliber.

CROWLEY: And, is he and was he in person as gracious and as easy going as you saw on TV as what we saw, what you got?

WHITE: Yes. What you saw with Dick was what you got. And also, he was ageless. He looked the same for 50 years.

CROWLEY: Tell me the last time you had contact with him. What was that like?

WHITE: Well, the last time we saw Dick, we did a show in Philadelphia and about maybe ten years ago. And we went backstage and said hello to him and he was very close to my brother Maurice, and he always asked how Maurice was doing and on his jukebox at home, he always had "September" our classic hit in his personal jukebox at home. CROWLEY: Wow. And we talked some about his legacy as a businessman, but tell me what his legacy is to rock and roll.

WHITE: Oh, undoubtedly, his legacy to rock 'n' roll is unparalleled in terms of introducing all of America to great rock 'n' roll and great music.

CROWLEY: And when you look around the music scene today, are there those that are doing as much for a genre of music as Dick Clark did for rock 'n' roll.

WHITE: Well, yes. I'm the first person that comes to mind I think that is new big close is Ryan Seacrest, with all of the work he's doing with idol in his radio shows, bringing artist together and that's the kind of blueprint that Dick laid out for young entrepreneurs on television and radio.

CROWLEY: And we, indeed, did get a written statement from Ryan Seacrest who called him my dear friend. He has truly been one of the greatest influences in my life.

So many artists, entertainers and hosts seem to be saying the same thing that Dick Clark was a huge influence.

WHITE: Yes. And he will be greatly missed, Candy, and we'll never see the likes of him ever again.

CROWLEY: You know, so often we hear in the entertainment industry as we do, and frankly, in other media that a person is out for themselves, that you worry about the competition, and he doesn't seem to have had that gene.

WHITE: No. Dick had -- Dick was one of us, you know. Dick was like another member of the band, you know? Dick was just as happy for you to succeed as you were for yourself to succeed and that's very rare in our business.

CROWLEY: Verdine White, the bassist for Earth, Wind & Fire with his reflections today on the occasion of the death of Dick Clark. Thank you for joining us.

We are going to take a quick break. But when we come back, a CNN exclusive; Wolf interviews the secretaries of state and defense.


CROWLEY: We will get back on breaking news on Dick Clark in a moment.

Wolf Blitzer is on his way back from NATO headquarters in Brussels where he sat down today with secretary of state Hillary Clinton and defense secretary Leon Panetta for an exclusive joint interview. They discussed a wide range of topics including the U.S. drawdown in of Afghanistan, the nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea and the presidential election at home. Listen to this.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANCHOR: On Syria, is President Bashar Al Assad, according to your opinion, Madam Secretary, a war criminal?

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to get into the labeling, Wolf, because what I'm doing now is trying to see whether or not he is going to get the implement Kofi Annan's plan and I don't think it's useful to do anything other than focus on the six points of the plan.

Right now, it doesn't appear, one again that he is going to follow through on what he has pledged to the international community he will do. We are still working to see about getting monitors in to be able to have an independent source of information coming after the Security Council. I will be going to Paris tomorrow afternoon to meet with like-minded nations in an ad hoc meeting to take stock of where we are.

But, it was significant that the Security Council endorsed Kofi Annan's six-point plan and the Syrian government said they would abide by it. And yet, we still see showing going on in Homs, in Idlib.

BLITZER: Are these crimes against humanity?

CLINTON: I think what we want to do, is begin an accountability project to gather evidence. We really don't want to be labeling what we see which are, clearly disproportionate use of force, human rights abuses, absolutely merciless shelling with heavy weaponry into unarmed civilian areas, even shelling across borders now into Turkey and Lebanon as happened last week.

We're interested in stopping the behavior, but at the same time we do want to see evidence collected so that there could be in the future accountability for these actions.

BLITZER: It sounds like the answer is yes. You do believe these are crimes --

CLINTON: Don't put words in my mouth. We're not making those kinds of charges or claims. Our goal right now is if the Assad regime were to say, OK, we agree. We're going to do everything that Kofi Annan asks us to do, that will be our focus, not some future maybe unlikely outcome in terms of criminal accountability. What I'm interested in is let's stop the violence and let's start the political transition.

BLITZER: Senator McCain says the U.S. should take the military lead in arming the rebels and maybe going over a no-fly zone. Here's the question, we're at NATO headquarters and Mr. Secretary, is NATO impotent in Syria right now?

LEON PANETTA, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I don't think so. I think that NATO, frankly, has shown that it can take long --

BLITZER: In Libya, it did, but in Syria -- PANETTA: They did a great job and it shows that when the international community comes together and decides to take action that we can take action that achieves the result.

BLITZER: The argument is that --

PANETTA: In this situation the international community, Wolf, has not made that decision.

BLITZER: If it does, would NATO take action?

PANETTA: If the international community makes the decision that we'll have to take further steps we'll be prepared to do that.

BLITZER: A no-fly zone and arming the rebels, all of that?

PANETTA: I mean, obviously, that will be discussed as part of whatever plan is required in order to achieve the mission.

BLITZER: Any chance China and Russia will go forward to allow such a red losing to go forward with the U.N. Security Council?

CLINTON: Well, right now that's a long shot. There doesn't seem to be any willingness on their part to go further than where we are right now, but this is a fast-changing situation. And, you know, countries have a lot of relationship. We know there are relationships certainly with Syria. There are also relationships with turkey. There are relationships with the gulf. There are relationships with European countries. All of whom are very worried about what will happen if Syria either or both, descends into civil war or causes a larger regional conflict.

So, I don't think we're even -- I don't think we're half way through this story yet, Wolf. We are going to see a lot happen over the next few weeks and it truly is up to the Assad regime. They're the ones who hold it in their power to end the violence and begin the political --

BLITZER: How much time do they have?

CLINTON: Well, I mean, they're running out of time because they've made so many promises which they've never kept. So their credibility, even with the countries that support them --

BLITZER: Like Russia and China are beginning to fray.

CLINTON: Like Russia and China is beginning to fray.

BLITZER: North Korea. Mitt Romney says the Obama's administration's in his words, incompetence, embolden the North Korean regime and undermine the security of the United States and its allies. Do you want to respond to the presumptive presidential nominee?

PANETTA: No. Not necessarily.

(LAUGHTER) BLITZER: He makes a serious charge.

PANETTA: I think it's pretty clear that this administration took a firm stand with regards to provocative behavior that North Korean engaged in. We made clear that they should not do it. We condemned that action even though it was not successful and it was a failure.

The fact is it was provocative and we have made it very clear to them that they should not take any additional, provocative actions. I think that was a clear, strong message that not only our country, but the world sent to North Korea and that's the way, frankly, that the United States ought to behave.

BLITZER: They do an underground nuclear test, for example, what would you do?

PANETTA: It would be again, another provocation and it would worsen our relationship.

BLITZER: What would you do?

PANETTA: I'm not going to get into how we would respond to that, but clearly, we are prepared. And the defense department plan for any contingence.

BLITZER: Still 30,000 U.S. troops along the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. A million North Korean troops-- almost a million South Korean troops bee troops, nuclear arms. This is a very dangerous part of the world.

PANETTA: No question. You know, we're within an inch of war almost every day in that part of the world. And you just have to be very careful about what we say and what we do.

BLITZER: Does that keep you up at night more than any other issue?

PANETTA: Unfortunately, these days there's hell of a lot that keeps me awake, but that's one of the ones at the top of the list.

BLITZER: What are the others?

PANETTA: Well. Obviously, Iran, Syria, the turmoil in the Middle East, the whole issue of cyber war, the whole issue of weapons of mass destruction, rising powers, all of those things are threats that the United States faces in today's world.

BLITZER: You have a lot of issues over there. What do you think of this new young leader of North Korea Kim Jung Un, not even 30- years-old?

CLINTON: Well. We, really, are waiting and watch him to see whether he can be the kind of leader that North Korean people need. I mean, if he just follows in the footsteps of his father, we don't expect much other than the kind of provocative behavior and the deep failure of the political and economic elite to take care of their own people.

But he, you know, he is someone who has lived outside of North Korea apparently, from what we know. We believe that he may have some hope that the conditions in North Korea can change.

But again, we are going to watch and wait. He gave a speech the other day that was analyzed as being some of the old same old stuff and, you know, some possible, new approach, but it's too early.

BLITZER: You know. When I was in Pyongyang, in December 2010, I was amazed that I could watch CNN in my hotel room. They watch CNN very closely. If you had a chance to speak to Kim Jung Un, what would you say to him?

CLINTON: I would say that as a young man with your future ahead of you, be the kind of leader that can now move North Korea, into the modern world, into the 21st century. Educate your people. Open up your system. Allow the talents of the North Korean people to be realized. Move away from a failed economic system that has kept so many of your people in starvation. Be the kind of leader who will be remembered for the Millennia as the person who moved North Korea on a path of reform, and you have the opportunity to do that.

BLITZER: Are you ready to meet with him?

CLINTON: Well, under you know, circumstances that don't exist today, the United States, as you know, was willing to try to reach out to him which we did. We had several high-level meetings. We agreed to provide some food aid in return for their ending some of their uranium enrichment and missile development. And then, they do what has been already termed by Leon and the rest of the world as a provocative action.

So, it's hard for us to tell right now, is this the way it will be with this new leader or does he feel like he has to earn his own credibility in order to have a new path for North Korea, too soon to tell.

BLITZER: The story of these military personnel in Cartagena is a shocking story. I know that deep inside - I can only imagine when you heard about the prostitutes and secret service agents and U.S. military personnel, I can only imagine, Mr. Secretary what went through your mind, but tell us what went through your mind.

PANETTA: Well, I don't usually use those words in public, but it was -- it was very disturbing. And the reason it was disturbing is that whether it takes place in Colombia or any other country or in the United States, we expect that our people behave according to the highest standards of conduct. That obviously, didn't happen here. And as a result we're investigating the matter, and as a result of that investigation, we'll hold these people accountable.

BLITZER: Diplomatic fallout from this incident? It's unfortunate, obviously.

CLINTON: I don't think so much diplomatic fallout as the unfortunate fact that it certainly ate up a lot of the coverage of the summit which was a meaningful get together. It only happens once every three years, an opportunity to show case Colombia.

Think about how much Colombia has changed and the United States, with our plan Colombia support has really been at the forefront of helping Colombia emerge as a real dynamo in the region.

As Leon said, there will be investigations both in the military and the secret service. You know, I've had secret service protection for more than 20 years, and, you know, I've only seen the very best, the professionalism, the dedication of the men and women who have been around me and my family.



CROWLEY: Dick Clark, an entertainer and host has died at the age of 82. He is being remembered as a pioneer in the world of broadcasting and is the forever young-looking host of two TV classics, "American Bandstand" and "New Year's Rocking eve."