Dick Clark was my first boss in Hollywood and, still, I almost never met the man.
Deep within the ivy-covered brick walls of his Burbank building, I would nervously peek into his office on my way to the copier. He was often obscured by paper, people streaming in and out, or his two giant dogs who sniffed me like they owned the place. But I never entered until the day I delivered a memo. I got up my courage, rehearsed my little speech, and brazenly marched into his office to lay it on his desk. He wasn’t there.
The halls were a museum, lined with a thousand framed photos, posters, and records from his career. But it was better not to be caught staring. After all, I had a glamorous job to do: printing scripts, copying scripts, delivering scripts…and getting coffee. We had six weeks to put on a live TV awards show — the Golden Globes — so I worked 100 hours a week, earning two bucks an hour. But this was show biz and it was for Dick Clark! Besides, if I worked hard enough, maybe the kid from nowhere might actually meet the man.
I thought my chance had arrived the night of the show when several production assistants were chosen to wear tuxedos, man the red carpet, and fill seats on the ballroom floor where movie stars majestically swirled. I was chosen for the director’s truck where the technical staff constructed the show. But at least I had a good view through the monitors of my peers standing on the red carpet next to Mr. Clark or sitting with the stars in the audience.
After the musical finale, when headsets came off and shoulders dropped their tension, I stepped into the cool, starlit night. Suddenly, down the hotel’s back stairs came Billy Crystal, Tim Robbins, Kathy Bates and Robin Williams. They passed me, chatting like chums, as I mumbled something. Then Ken Shapiro, the producer who hired me, was at my elbow. “Would you like to meet Dick Clark?” he asked.
I stammered my agreement. Soon I was shaking hands and chatting with the legend himself — just the three of us in the back parking lot. Mr. Clark thanked me for the good job I had done then launched into describing the challenges of producing his next show, The American Music Awards, only days away. The stars brightened; the wind became crisper.
Then they were both gone, having stepped into the dark. And I was alone, still the kid from nowhere, but now basking in the glow of more than one star on a wintry Hollywood night.
It was nice to finally meet you, Mr. Clark. Thank you for all you did and all you gave. Rest in peace.