Dance | Dick Clark | Television

'American Bandstand' Dancers: Dick Clark Engaged in 'Witch Hunts' to Purge Show of Gays

Frank Brancaccio (pictured, via this interview) and Eddie Kelly (pictured below, from this interview), two gay former American Bandstand dancers tell the National Enquirer that late host Dick Clark had his producers conduct "witch hunts" to "purge gays from the ranks."

BrancaccioClark had his aides comb Philadelphia’s gay hangouts – and if any of the show’s teens were discovered as being openly gay, the horrified host would banish them!

Handsome gay 14- to 17-year old males who helped popularize dance crazes like the Slop, the Continental, the Fly and the Hitchhike could stay on “Bandstand” as long as they looked straight. But any open hint of homosexuality got them kicked out the door – and the teens knew it in no uncertain terms.

[“Bandstand” regular, Eddie] Kelly revealed, “Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse square was known as a meeting place for homosexuals. If you were seen in the square, you couldn’t go on ‘Bandstand.’ So most of us really stayed away.”

But his same-sex secret actually made Brancaccio start going to the show when he was 14 years old!

Kelly“I went to ‘Bandstand’ because I was gay and I was a misfit in my neighborhood. I lived in very tough South Philadelphia,” he says. “I’d see these kids dancing and instinctively I knew I could fit in with them. I went to coffee shops, but I also hung out in Rittenhouse Square and so did many of the dancers. It was no secret. When I used to walk down the streets of Philadelphia and be recognized, I’d be called a ‘Bandstand f*****.’”

The dancers add:

“A high percentage of the popular ‘regulars’ were gay,” declares Brancaccio, now 72 years old and openly homosexual.

And another “Bandstand” regular, Eddie Kelly, confirms, “It’s true. 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.”

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  1. Well, sure....

    Just sayin'.

    Posted by: johnny | Jan 6, 2014 9:46:56 AM

  2. Gay dancers on "American Bandstand!" Say it ain't so!

    Posted by: RonCharles | Jan 6, 2014 10:15:37 AM

  3. And yet he befriended Ryan Seacrest...

    Posted by: anon | Jan 6, 2014 10:17:51 AM

  4. And yet he befriended Ryan Seacrest...

    Posted by: anon | Jan 6, 2014 10:17:52 AM

  5. In Clark's defense, this was 1950's America. Any hint of homosexuality around BANDSTAND would have meant that the show, not only would not go national, but would probably be cancelled entirely. Best case scenario: Clark is busted back down to radio for the rest of his career. Worst Case: he gets blackballed from the industry forever and he's done completely with broadcasting. Personal feelings may or may not have come into it, but Clark, like most of America, likely evolved on gay issues over the next 50 years.

    Posted by: Jere | Jan 6, 2014 10:32:58 AM

  6. Whoever wrote the Title is totally wrong.. and should change it to "American Bandstand Protected Gay Youths in the 1950s"..

    >>>>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.”<<<

    Posted by: stevetalbert | Jan 6, 2014 10:36:19 AM

  7. Eddie Kelly, you dog you. Woof.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jan 6, 2014 10:43:08 AM

  8. He was a massive Homophobe all the time....This was well known in Hollywood....

    Posted by: Ankerich | Jan 6, 2014 11:11:25 AM

  9. Very interesting article.

    Without Gays there could be no TV dance shows or videos--and that's true today.

    What about "Soul Train"? SNAP! SNAP!

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 6, 2014 11:17:04 AM

  10. Not so to above poster. The show was called " Bandstand" in the beginning it was a locsl Philadelphia show. The "American" came in during the 60s when it went national.

    Posted by: John Scuder | Jan 6, 2014 11:18:02 AM

  11. C'mon, Barry Manilow sang the theme song. It doesn't get any gayer than that. LOL.

    Posted by: Sean Maloney | Jan 6, 2014 11:23:11 AM

  12. The same thing was true with "Soul Train" as well, especially in the 80's.

    Posted by: Frank | Jan 6, 2014 11:41:13 AM

  13. Not True. A boyfriend of mine was openly gay and danced on American Bandstand for many years. These are probably just people trying to make a quick buck.

    Posted by: Rory P. Rentmeester | Jan 6, 2014 12:15:51 PM

  14. You are using the National Enquirer as a reference in a story. Enough said.

    Posted by: Jerry | Jan 6, 2014 12:29:51 PM

  15. Rory Rentmeester is probably right -- these two guys will no doubt be able to retire comfortably on spilling their secrets to this blog.

    Posted by: James | Jan 6, 2014 12:33:42 PM

  16. @FRANK Actually the same thing was NOT true with "Soul Train" neither in the 1970s or the 1980s.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Jan 6, 2014 1:11:18 PM

  17. @ JAMAL49:

    I'm surprised you feel that way. One of my worst verbal Gay bashing experiences happened while watching old "Soul Train" episodes.

    It was in a barbershop in North Philly. There was an evil piece o' trade sitting across from me getting his hair cut. There was a TV monitor showing the "Soul Train" dancers. The evil piece of trade looked at the TV then looked at me.

    "Look at them f.ggots shakin' they azzes like b.tches." then he turned to look at me, "...they ought to take all the f.ggots and line 'em up and shoot 'em down"

    I was stunned and so humiliated. That was about 1980. It's one of most painful memories I have.

    But my point is that everyone thought most of the "Soul Train" male dancers were Gay.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 6, 2014 1:34:02 PM

  18. Truly the Adolf Hitler of Rock and Roll.

    Posted by: Kev C | Jan 6, 2014 1:50:17 PM

  19. Another worse case scenario is that some of the dancers could have gone to jail for sodomy laws. As painful as it is to remeber, it's one thing I hope future generations of gays choose never to forget: it used to be illegal to be openly gay in the "Land of the Free."

    Posted by: Queer Supremacist | Jan 6, 2014 1:57:41 PM

  20. @Jamaal49. Let me present to you exhibit A

    I rest my case.

    Posted by: Frank | Jan 6, 2014 2:06:20 PM

  21. Hey, FRANK & JAMAL49:

    I think we have misunderstood each other.

    I think what JAMAL49 was talking about was that there was no effort TO RID "Soul Train" of its Gay male dancers--unlike what we're reading here about "American Bandstand".

    Very important distinction.

    I apologize, JAMAL.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 6, 2014 2:15:12 PM

  22. Haven't felt the same about DC since the bit in "Bowling For Columbine." Just more of the same disappointment.

    Posted by: Dback | Jan 6, 2014 3:00:33 PM

  23. Soul Train had an openly gay dancer named Jermaine Stewart who went on to have a semi-successful solo artist who's biggest hit was "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off".

    He often danced with his best friend Jody Watley.

    Posted by: mitch reid | Jan 6, 2014 8:11:38 PM

  24. Derrick: That does sound like an incredibly painful experience.

    I hope the "evil trade" guy has had the life he deserved.

    Posted by: visitor | Jan 6, 2014 8:18:27 PM

  25. Having gay male dancers would guarantee the boys would stay the appropriate number of inches away from their female partners while dancing, not touch their breasts, or grab their asses; thereby resulting in fewer problems with network censors.

    Posted by: Fox | Jan 6, 2014 10:11:40 PM

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