In what The National Enquirer calls a “shocker”, former dancers on the iconic TV show American Bandstand have admitted that even though a high percentage of the show’s male dancers were gay, Dick Clark kept them in the closet.
Bandstand regular Frank Brancaccio, now a 72-year-old out gay man, told the Enquirer that Clark was terrified of a viewer backlash should they discover any of the teens were gay. Another of the Bandstand teens, Eddie Kelly, backed up Brancaccio’s memory:
“It’s true.” Said Kelly. “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.”
The former Bandstanders say Clark had his staff conduct what they called “witch hunts” to discover who was gay so they could be excluded from the show. Clark’s agents would troll coffee houses and local gay hangouts looking for familiar faces. If a Bandstander was discovered, they were banished.
“Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse square was known as a meeting place for homosexuals.” Recalls Eddie Kelly. “If you were seen in the square, you couldn’t go on ‘Bandstand. So most of us really stayed away.”
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.
Dick Clark died of a massive heart attack in April 2012 at age 82, so we’ll never know what he might say about those Bandstand days, or how he may have evolved in his later life. The Enquirer expose says: “Now it can be told.” That seems to beg the question, why couldn’t it have been told when Mr. Clark could have been asked for his comment?
Enquiring minds would really like to know.
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