Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99

Frankie Avalon

Like him or not, Dick Clark helped define my times

My friend, Bob Greene, and I were reminiscing on the phone recently about the passing of Dick Clark, who died at age 82 on April 18.

That two people from starkly different backgrounds like us would be talking about this TV icon says much about Mr. Clark's staying power, at least for those of the postwar generation who gave Mr. Clark his push to entertainment and economic success.

Bob and I are in our early to middle 60s, about two years apart in age. I'm white; he's African American. He grew up in rural Harford County at a time when schools were still segregated by race, as was most of the popular music played on local radio stations.

I'm from suburban Philadelphia,...