Clark relishes rare tribute

Says he has lived 'childhood dream'

Too often, it seems, one has to die in order to receive a tribute from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences -- as was the case this year with Aaron Spelling, who no doubt would have loved to see the adoration directed his way while he was still here to appreciate it.

Fortunately, Dick Clark is here, though still fighting after a debilitating stroke in late 2004. He was honored Sunday night on the Emmy stage for his vast contributions to the television business, particularly the iconic weekly music series "American Bandstand."

Introduced by Simon Cowell of "American Idol" fame -- perhaps something of an odd choice -- Clark received a thunderous standing ovation that seemed almost to embarrass him. "Sit down, sit down, please," he implored. But those in attendance at the Shrine Auditorium would do no such thing until they were good and ready in honor of the man who gave up so many of his New Year's Eves for us.

Clark's remarks were short but poignant. Through stroke-affected speech that was halting but clear, Clark said: "The Emmy people called and asked if I could walk out and say thanks. My wife joked, 'Walk? He's just begun to walk again. This show might run a little long.' "

He added: "Before I had my stroke, I was thinking about all of the things I had become involved with over my life: music, comedy, drama, game and talk shows, even reality TV. I now realize that I have accomplished my childhood dream: to be in show business. Everybody should be so lucky to have their dreams come true. I've been truly blessed. I thank you very, very much."

And with that, Clark walked off of the stage -- a little bit slower than he used to be but at the same time seemingly walking on air.