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Clay Cole (January 1, 1938 – December 18, 2010) was an American host and disk jockey, best known for his eponymous television dance program, The Clay Cole Show, which aired in New York City on WNTA-TV and WPIX-TV from 1959 to 1968.

Clay Cole
Isley Brothers 1.Jpg
Cole (left) with The Isley Brothers in 1962
Albert Franklin Rucker[1]

(1938-01-01)January 1, 1938
DiedDecember 18, 2010(2010-12-18) (aged 72)
ShowMystery Castle[2]
The Enchanted Forest
Rucker's Rumpus Room
Al Ricker and the Seven Teens
Rate the Records
Talent Teens
Teen Quiz
The Record Wagon
The Clay Cole Show[1]
Clay Cole's Discotek[3]
Station(s)WKBN (AM)


Clay Cole was born Albert Rucker Jr. on January 1, 1938, in Youngstown, Ohio.[4] He became a juvenile stage and radio actor; then in 1953, at age 15, became the television host and producer of his own Saturday night teen music show, Rucker's Rumpus Room,[4] first on WKBN-TV, then, until 1957, on WFMJ. Arriving in Manhattan in 1957, he worked first as an NBC page, then as a production assistant on the troubled quiz show Twenty One, the events at which were recreated in the 1994 film Quiz Show, directed by Robert Redford.[1]

Early television and film careerEdit

In 1958, he continued his Saturday night television legacy, launching Al Rucker and the Seven Teens program on WJAR-TV, Providence, Rhode Island. In New York City in 1959, when asked to change his name, he chose that of a distant cousin, Clay Cole.[1] Clay's 1960 all-star ten-day Christmas show at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater broke the all-time house box office record.[5][6] Clay was among the few white performers invited to appear at Harlem's Apollo Theater; he headlined three week-long revues, starring Fats Domino, Gladys Knight & the Pips and Chubby Checker. In 1961, he appeared as himself in the film Twist Around the Clock.[1] When WNTA-TV was sold in 1963, Cole's program was picked up by New York City television station WPIX-TV, where the program became known as Clay Cole's Discotek by 1965.[1][3] During the 1960s "British Invasion", musical acts arriving from the UK often appeared on Cole's television show before doing network shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show. The Rolling Stones and The Who were among those who first appeared on Cole's television show.[1][7][8] Cole's show differed from American Bandstand in a few ways: while both Cole and Dick Clark had an interest in young people and their music, Cole did not hesitate to join in on his show's dance floor. He was also more confident about booking lesser-known performers and comedians for his show.[1][7][9]

Writing, producing and directing careerEdit

Leaving The Clay Cole Show[9] in 1967, Clay became a television writer - producer, involved in the production of over 3500 broadcast television shows.[1][4][7] He is twice winner of the Emmy Award (NATAS) as "producer of outstanding television programming" in 1981 and 1982 for the Joel Siegel Academy Awards special.[7] He producedThe Discovery of Marilyn Monroe, Play Bridge with Omar Sharif and 365 This Day In Hollywood segments. Along with David Susskind and Raysa Bonow, he created and produced the first primetime entertainment magazine People for CBS in 1979. Cole also hosted A. M. New York.[1][7] He returned briefly in 1974 as the star of the first HBO-produced music special Clay Cole's 20 Years of Rock and Roll,[4] a two-hour event taped at Rockland Community College,[10] and as co-host of the WABC-TV weekday program, AM New York. His final professional assignment was as writer/producer/director of the television special, the 2002. Going on in the 80's having his own production company. Clay Cole Productions. Producing the music video for Otis day and the knights, besides other industrial projects. Sanremo Music Festival in Italy, featuring Britney Spears, Destiny's Child, Alicia Keys, Shakira, Kylie Minogue and other international pop divas.[7]

Retirement and deathEdit

Cole retired and had been living on Oak Island since 2007,[11] off the Cape Fear River on the North Carolina coastline.[1] His pop culture memoir, Sh-Boom! The Explosion of Rock 'n' Roll (1953-1968), has been published by Morgan James.[12][13] It has been nominated for the 2010 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research. Cole made a personal appearance at the annual Long Island Radio & TV Day in April 2010,[14] and also at the New Jersey Rock Con later that year.[15] Clay appeared at the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention in Newark, New Jersey in October 2010.

In addition, Cole was a member of the nominating committee of the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

Cole died of a heart attack at his home on December 18, 2010,[3] at the age of 72.[1][4][7][16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Grimes, William (24 December 2010). "Clay Cole, Host of TeenageDance Shows, dies at 72". New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  2. ^ "Mystery Castle". Rand's Esoteric OTR. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  3. ^ a b c Grimes, William (26 December 2010). "Clay Cole; hosted teen show that drew rising musical stars". Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e - accessed December 2010
  5. ^ "Clay Cole and the Paramount Theater". Brooklyn Music. 3 August 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  6. ^ "Brooklyn Paramount". New York Theater Organ Society. Archived from the original on 26 January 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Hinckley, David (21 December 2010). "Clay Cole, legendary 1960s rock 'n' roll teen guru who introduced Rolling Stones, dies at almost 73". New York Daily News. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  8. ^ "WPIX Celebrates 60 Years". Chicago Tribune. 5 June 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
  9. ^ a b Weintraub, Bernard (16 February 2003). "Pioneer of a Beat Is Still Riffing for His Due". New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  10. ^ "Clay Cole Bio". Clay Cole Show. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  11. ^ "Friends remember TV, music legend Clay Cole". WWAY-TV. 21 December 2010. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  12. ^ Hinckley, David (3 December 2009). "City traffic reports are cutting through the gridlock". New York Daily News. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  13. ^ Cole, Clay; Hinckley, David, eds. (2009). Sh-Boom!:The Explosion of Rock 'n' Roll (1953-1968). Morgan James. p. 318. ISBN 1-60037-639-8. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  14. ^ Hinckley, David (15 April 2010). "WXRP declares "Record Store Day" in campaign to support independent stores". New York Daily News. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  15. ^ "The Stars Come Out for Rock Con Event". Goldmine magazine. 19 July 2010. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  16. ^ Steelman, Ben (20 December 2010). "Clay Cole Passes". StarNewsOnline. Retrieved 27 December 2010.

External linksEdit