Mid-South dancers recall time on "American Bandstand"

(WMC-TV) - A day after his death, a Mid-South dancing duo is reflecting on their time with broadcasting legend Dick Clark.

Clark, who died of a massive heart attack Wednesday, is synonymous with "American Bandstand."

"He gave everybody such chances to make it big," said Reggie Jester.  "If you hit 'American Bandstand,' your song was going to go big time."

In 1971, Jester and Deborah Thompson were dancing partners who said they traveled from Memphis to California, ready to hit the "American Bandstand" dance floor.

They said they never expected to win.

"I think we were both shocked," said Thompson.

"Deb and I were just doing what we would normally do at a party," said Jester.

Beating out the competition was exciting, but the couple said meeting Clark was the biggest thrill.

"Everybody went, 'oh, it's Dick Clark, it's Dick Clark,'" said Thompson.

Clark joined the dancers for breakfast each morning before the show taped.  Jester said Clark was just as genuine in person as he was on camera.

"Very personable," said Jester.  "He was interested in the kids, where we were from and what we wanted to do because we were all teens."

Jester said meeting Clark, who was known as "America's oldest teen," really made an impact.

"It lit me on fire," he said.  "I said, 'I've got to be on television.'"

Now a radio sales executive, Jester even went on to partner with Clark's company.

"I actually sold for Dick Clark Productions, so I worked with him in business after that, too," said Jester.  "I had an ongoing relationship with him, and again, anything you did with Dick Clark was wonderful."

Thompson said the news of Clark's death brought back all of her "American Bandstand" memories.

"You just think of all the times that you watched the ball drop on New Year's Eve, and you think you know," said Thompson.  "I actually met him, so it was a moment in my life that I'll never forget."

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