Connecticut Bandstand

Connecticut Bandstand

On July 9, 1956, Dick Clark took over as host of American Bandstand on WFIL-TV in Philadelphia. Later that same year, on October 17, WNHC-TV in New Haven began airing Connecticut Bandstand. Both WFIL and WNHC were owned by Triangle Publications, a Pennsylvania-based media company that folded into News Corporation in 1988.

For the most part, locally broadcast Connecticut Bandstand mirrored nationally broadcast American Bandstand. The featured teenagers from Connecticut and nearby states dancing to hit songs, and Connecticut-based bands, singers and vocal groups were regular guests, lip-syncing to their recordings. Many of the teenagers appearing on the show were students at local New Haven high schools (such as Hillhouse and Wilbur Cross) and it aired Monday through Friday at 3:30pm (in the slot before American Bandstand).


Like American Bandstand, the show featured dance regulars who gained local fame, some of whom even had their own fan clubs. Two such regulars were the couple billed as Cookie & Charley (Cookie Teznick and Charlie Lent), who were a very popular dancing duo on the show in 1957. Later that year, Cookie & Charley recorded two singles for Jeff Records – “Let’s Go Rock and Roll” and “I Love You So” – that reached the top 20 on Connecticut radio stations. Other local recording artists that performed on Connecticut Bandstand included Debbie & The Darnels, The Catalinas, The Academics, Ginny Arnell, Andy Dio, Billy James, Roger Koob & The Premiers, The Van Dykes, The Reveliers, The Pyramids and Ron & His Rattletones.


The show’s first host was Jim Gallant, who emceed many record hops and outdoor shows featuring local performers; he also hosted and produced concerts, including one in 1959 at Marino’s Danz-Er-Roll in Buckingham Hall in Waterbury. It’s purported that Gallant was in the running to host American Bandstand. After allegations of payola surfaced, however, he resigned, refusing to sign an affidavit admitting to receiving gifts in exchange for playing records.

In March 1960, Elliot “Biggie” Nevins, who also hosted many local hops, became the show’s second host, followed by Mike Sapack, who was its third and last. Connecticut Bandstand’s stopped airing in 1962.

(by Tony Renzoni)

Tony Renzoni is the author of Connecticut Rock ‘n’ Roll: A History (The History Press, 2017) and portions of the above are from that book.

Published On: December 9, 2020

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