'I Was a Junk Food Junkie'


Dick Clark doesn't look his 67 years, especially considering that for 30-odd years the host of "American Bandstand" helped raise the country's teenagers.

Who knew when Clark turned his first platter ("Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On" by Jerry Lee Lewis) that 600,000 on-camera bopping kids would teach 8 million viewers how to rock 'n' roll.

"The irony of my life," Clark said, "is that Mrs. Murray, of Arthur and Kathryn Murray, gave me dance lessons for my 13th birthday. In my mid-20s, I inherit a show called 'American Bandstand,' where everybody learned to dance and put dance schools out of business, unintentionally."

Clark works out of his office in Burbank--which he shares with his staff, wife Kari, 54, and dogs Molly, Lucille and Bernardo (a mutt rescued from a pound in San Bernardino). Except for tonight, when he'll be in Times Square welcoming in the New Year (11:35 p.m. PST on ABC).

Question: Can you dance?

Answer: I can, as long as I'm not in the continental United States. Maybe a nice, slow dance at a wedding with my wife.

Q: You look as though you're feeling pretty good these days.

A: I'm blessed--select your parents very carefully. But I'm always 5 pounds heavier than I ought to be. I like food, that's my problem.

Q: You're careful about what you eat?

A: I'm much better about my diet now than I used to be. Years and years ago, I was a junk food junkie. In Las Vegas we'd finish work at 5 in the morning, have steak and eggs and a beer and then go to bed. I don't know how I survived until the next morning.

Q: You were younger--we were all younger--and maybe in better shape?

A: I was the push-up champion in high school. I'd do them all day. They'd have to stop me. So I was in fairly decent shape as a kid, and I've just slowly deteriorated over the years. I'm trying to recapture that now.

Q: How?

A: Do what everybody else does--eat less fat, less red meat, eat a lot of vegetables. And we live on the beach, so I walk but not as much as my wife. She walks the dogs in the morning while I'm in the exercise room. At 6:30, I'm on a rowing machine--and that's about a 15-minute ordeal. And then I get on the stair climber, plus I use 15-pound weights. . . .

Q: Hang on a sec--you really don't dance?

A: I'm very intimidated because I'm afraid that people who grew up watching me conduct a dance show will say, "Well, how can you be so bad? You just didn't learn a thing." Which is true.

Q: Back to your eating habits.

A: Well, unfortunately, the biggest mistake we make is not eating breakfast. We know we should, but it's rather hurried around our house in the morning. So, we grab a cup of coffee--I drink one cup--and brew up a quart of Chinese herb tea that I sip throughout the day.

Q: So when do you eat?

A: Here in the office I have lunch, usually salad or a piece of grilled chicken or turkey or soup. Both my wife and I are cooks, so we cook dinner together. We watch a little TV in the kitchen, prepare dinner and then we sit at a small table at the end of the dining room that overlooks the ocean, we light a candle and eat. Not very exciting or different, just pretty normal.

Q: What do you cook?

A: We used to break all the rules, but now we lean strongly toward fish, fowl, pasta, greens, the stuff everybody knows to eat, but we just try to do it as interesting as possible.

Q: Are you a dessert man?

A: I say to my wife every night after dinner, "Well, what's for dessert?" and she says, "The usual."

Q: Which is?

A: Which is nothing. She could give up desserts forever and I would have dessert as the opener. I'm English and I think they come by a sweet tooth naturally. I love candy. I love chocolate. I used to hide chocolate in the chandeliers so my kids wouldn't get it.

Q: Do you feel as strongly about water?

A: I drink a lot of water, room temperature. I'll drink it out of the tap, out of a bottle, whatever happens to be convenient.

Q: After your "New Year's Rockin' Eve" show at Times Square, how do you celebrate?

A: Kari teases me because our New Year's kiss is always 15 to 17 minutes delayed. We meet at the end of the scaffold, kiss and then we go to P.J. Clark's, an old Irish bar. We have two beers and hamburgers and go home--we have an apartment in New York--and the next day we're back in California.

Q: How do you spend New Year's Day?

A: We walk on the beach and then it's a never-ending viewing of football games, and we clean the closet, the pantry, the refrigerator and the freezer, which we call the Bermuda Triangle--whatever goes in never comes out. You go in and say, "Hey, look at this. It's 4 years old."

Q: Any advice for New Year's Eve?

A: Don't overindulge. And I've learned that through long, hard experience over the years.

Q: Any hangover remedies for tomorrow?

A: I've forgotten all the remedies because, in all honesty, I don't drink that much anymore.

* Guest Workout wishes you a happy and healthy new year.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World