Ryan Seacrest on Dick Clark: 'I Idolized Him From the Start'

Ryan Seacrest Opens 'Idol' With Dick Clark Tribute

Ryan Seacrest Opens 'Idol' With Dick Clark Tribute

Ryan Seacrest has been hit hard by the death of broadcasting legend Dick Clark, his mentor and co-host on "New Year's Rockin' Eve," calling the TV icon "smart, charming, funny and a true gentleman."

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dick Clark," Seacrest wrote on his website on Wednesday. "He has truly been one of the greatest influences in my life. I idolized him from the start, and I was graced early on in my career with his generous advice and counsel."

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Clark, whose "American Bandstand" helped shape modern pop music for decades, died of a "massive heart attack" at a Los Angeles hospital on Wednesday. He was 82.

"Rockin' Eve" could also be relied on to feature the biggest pop acts of the day and his enthusiasm and signature sign off -- "For now, Dick Clark ... so long" -- remain ingrained in pop culture. Seacrest joined the annual New Year's broadcast as a guest host in 2005, a year after Clark suffered a serious stroke. In 2006, the show was renamed "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest," a clear sign that Clark had found his successor.

"When I joined his show in 2006, it was a dream come true to work with him every New Year's Eve for the last 6 years. He was smart, charming, funny and always a true gentleman. I learned a great deal from him, and I'll always be indebted to him for his faith and support of me. He was a remarkable host and businessman and left a rich legacy to television audiences around the world. We will all miss him."