Dick Clark was born in Bronxville, New York and was raised in nearby Mount Vernon, the son of Julia Fuller (née Barnard) Clark and Richard Augustus Clark. His only sibling, older brother Bradley, was killed in World War II. His career in show business began in 1945 when he started working in the mailroom of WRUN, a radio station owned by his uncle and managed by his father in Utica, New York. Clark was soon promoted to weatherman and news announcer.
Clark attended A.B. Davis High School (now A.B. Davis Middle School) in Mount Vernon and Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, and was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Phi Gamma); he graduated in 1951 with a degree in business.