UNAMERICAN

Did Dick Clark And National Enquirer Cover Up Gay Witch Hunts?

americanbandstandIs this a conspiracy, a scandal or just an overactive imagination? New allegations from American Bandstand dancers accuse the late Dick Clark of conducting antigay witch hunts. But as soon as the interviews started circulating around the web, they abruptly vanished from their source.

Now, here’s where you may want to take it all with a grain of salt: that source was The National Enquirer. So, this might not be as rigorously fact-checked as, say, an article in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. (Then again, they were right about the John Edwards affair, so who knows.)

Here’s what we know: according to the Enquirer, “Clark had his aides comb Philadelphia’s gay hangouts – and if any of the show’s teens were discovered as being openly gay, the horrified host would banish them!”

But that doesn’t seem to be backed up by the actual interviews. The closest we get is this, from one of the dancers: “Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse square was known as a meeting place for homosexuals. If you were seen in the square, you couldn’t go on Bandstand. So most of us really stayed away.”

No mention of a horrified Clark, or stings by the producers. Maybe that’s why the interview has vanished from the Enquirer’s site? Or maybe they got too close to the truth, and someone’s threatening lawyers.

What’s more interesting to us is this:

“A high percentage of the popular ‘regulars’ were gay,” declares Brancaccio, now 72 years old and openly homosexual.

And another Bandstand regular, Eddie Kelly, confirms, “It’s true. now it’s out and it’s good. When I went to Bandstand in 1959, I found most of the males were gay, but that could never have gotten out to the public.”

An oral history of what it was like to be gay on Bandstand would be a fascinating read. Someone get on that, please.

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18 Comments

  • CCTR

    Very likely the truth, but sadly it should come as no surprise. That show was on in the 50s,60s,70s, and 80s. I wonder were gay or suspected gay musical acts treated the same way by Clark and his staff?

    also from the article…Brancaccio and Kelly also accused Clark of paying lip service to integration, while behind the scenes the show gave white kids special “membership cards” to keep the number of black teens low. There was also an unwritten rule that integrated couples were not allowed.

    “Clark wanted NO integration,” said Brancaccio.

  • fpcinnyc

    This was CERTAINLY not the case when I was on American Bandstand from 1980-1983. Most of us were gay and Dick was pretty well aware of it. As for integration- I know that wasn’t even a question by the 80’s. Everyone danced with everyone else. It’s just that the boys only danced with girls and even back then no one objected to that unspoken rule.

  • Sansacro

    @fpcinnyc: The 1950s and 60’s were quite different times from the 1980s, both in terms of integration and homosexuality.

  • fpcinnyc

    Sansacro- I totally understand that – and by those standards Walt Disney was a huge homophobe. I am just saying that I knew Dick Clark and he was one of the nicest men in the industry unless you didn’t do your job well or you wasted time in production that should not have been wasted.

  • jeffy

    I only ask because of the headline. You do know that Dick Clark is dead, right? Although I’m sure he still looks great.

  • AEH

    Weird. Dick Clark didn’t come across as bigoted.

  • hyhybt

    That a TV show in the 1950’s would want to avoid something that would at the time caused a huge scandal is neither surprising nor particularly damning.

  • Teleny

    Actually if Dick Clark hadn’t taken those steps in the 50s, he’d be off the air, blacklisted from the industry and probably under FBI surveillance. The 50s were McCarthyism, and homosexuality was widely believed to be a mental illness. Just the way it was in more mainstream world.

  • TomMc

    @jeffy: “Although I’m sure he still looks great.”

    HA! (Good one.)

  • Profe Sancho Panza

    “Are Dick Clark And National Enquirer Covering Up Gay Witch Hunts?”

    Unless Clark’s still controlling his publicity from beyond the grave, then no, he’s not covering up anything now.

  • hyhybt

    How did “Dick Clark never ages” become a running gag, anyway? I’ve seen footage of him from that period. On Pyramid in the 80’s, he looked about as much older as he actually was. Likewise comparing that to the last few NYE shows before the stroke. He appears to me to have aged very normally. So how did the joke that he didn’t ever take hold so well that it still comes out now and then even a couple years after his death?

  • jimbryant

    This doesn’t surprise. The music industry is VERY homophobic towards male-male sexuality. Even after we’ve made progress in other aspects of society, particularly at the political and legal levels, the music industry remains a hang-out of homophobia.

  • DShucking

    Dick Clark is still alive?

  • Tyler100

    @jimbryant:

    It doesn’t surprise me that Jim would come here to criticize homophobia despite being the most homophobic commenter on this site. Anything for attention, I suppose.

  • jmmartin

    I was in my teens and infatuated with Tony Perkins and Tab Hunter. I liked Tony’s broad if skinny shoulders when he donned a basketball uniform and romanced Jane Fonda in an absurdly awkward movie, “Tall Story,” and when Tab spent almost an entire movie, “Island of Desire” with nothing on but a bathing suit, I fantasized. Little did I know that the two young men were dating in the most absurd way in order to satisfy publicists’ plans to deal with studio “morals” clauses. The pre-paparazzi paparazzi, who were mainly selling to yellow rags like “Confidential” (a magazine that ruined a good many careers and just possibly made as much money in pay-offs as subscriptions and news stand sales, would catch Tony and Tab “double dating,” a couple of coeds or starlets always perkily posing proximately in each shot. “Man Men” and other shows have given us a glimpse into those sterilized years, beginning with Eisenhower and ending with Kennedy. You might forgive Dick Clark. He dealt with morals clauses, too.

  • hyhybt

    @jmmartin: Tony Perkins, the anti-gay activist?

  • hyhybt

    Thank you, Queerty, for changing the headline.

  • Vera Delmar

    Well duh! It doesn’t take rocket science to figure this one out. Even if these allegations are proved false without gay guys on the American Bandstand show there wouldn’t have be any guys to dance with the girls….

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