Bandstand Dress Codes
The rules and dress code were strict on American Bandstand. For the boys coats and or sweaters and ties were required. Girls had to wear skirts. The show would start at 2:30 PM each afternoon Philadelphia time and so the students from nearby West Catholic High School would be the first to arrive since school let out at 2:30. In the beginning the West Catholic girls wore their school uniforms into Bandstand. In short order the nuns put a prompt end to that requiring them to cover up their dresses with sweaters. White collars would protrude from their tops and soon young girls across the nation were imitating the “Bandbox Philadelphia Collar” style.
Hundred’s of teenagers would line up outside the studio for admittance each day – but a select group – who came to be known as “The Committee” (and by viewers as “The Regulars”) would be permitted automatic entry into the program each afternoon. Selection of Committee members was determined by fan mail which would run heavy for certain couples on the show. Once in a while a new couple would attract attention of the viewers and they would be added to the ranks of the chosen. At any given time there were about 30 Committee members who all held special membership cards guaranteeing them entry into the daily program and this would also ensure that viewers would see familiar faces.
Fan mail ran heavy for the regulars with thousands of pieces of mail arriving at the studio weekly. Dick Clark feels that perhaps the most popular of all the boys to appear on the show was Tommy DeNoble. He once was asked to appear at a Catholic school dance in Mahonoy City, PA by a priest to help boost the usual attendance which would be around 100 to 150 kids. When Tommy appeared, more than 1,500 showed up – larger than the teen population of the entire town.
Fan mail was screened by the WFIL staff by agreement with the kids due to pornographic material sometimes being enclosed or overly suggestive content and invitations – but most mail ran clean and innocent from every part of the world. Two couples who stood out from the “Regulars” were Bob Clayton with Justine Carrelli who became a “couple” on the show in the late 1950’s at the age of 14. They were followed by early 1960’s couple Ken Rossi and Arlene Sullivan. They were a contrast in styles – with Bob and Justine reflecting the a raunchier edge associated with the early rock and roll days, and with Ken and Arlene displaying a softer look as rock and roll began to smooth out somewhat.
Dick Clark recounts that in spite of the tremendous popularity of many of the programs “Regulars” – none would go on to become stars. Almost all would assume a place in life typical of most of us and they spread throughout the country far and wide. Bob and Justine won Bandstand’s first “jitterbug” contest, receiving over a million votes via the U.S. Mail. For their effort they won a 200 record player jukebox. The couple took a stab a stardom recording a single titled “Drive-In Movie” which quickly flopped. Bob and Justine soon thereafter broke up making room for the next Bandstand couple of choice.