Okay, this is insane. I didn’t totally believe it was real when I saw this old advertisement come across my twitter feed the other day:
New! Dick Clark Action Tours, Inc. Summer ’68 Action Tour for Teenagers! Hollywood! Hawaii! Mexico! 21 dazzling days of freedom & fun! Come on along! Aug. 9th to 29th. Only $775 from Los Angeles. See Happening ’68 in Action!
I mean, what?!?
It seems so unbelievable. What parent in their right mind would allow their teenager to go off with a bunch of strangers to Hollywood and Hawaii and Mexico for three weeks? Sure, parenting was considerably more laissez-faire back then, but come on.
As wild as it seems, somebody actually thought this was a good idea. And that someone was Dick Clark, the world’s oldest teenager who would’ve been 38 that summer. “Happening ’68” was a Saturday afternoon music show on ABC TV hosted by Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere of the Raiders. It was apparently popular enough for ABC to create a weekday spin-off (“It’s Happening”) that debuted in July. So it’s no surprise that Dick Clark Productions thought they had their finger on the pulse, so why not extend the brand and cash in? But how could a travel program for teenagers possibly work?
On Saturday, June 15, 1968, the Battle Creek Enquirer ran an obvious press released under the headline, “Dick Clark Sponsors Teen Action Tours.”
On Friday, August 9, 1968, the first DICK CLARK ACTION TOUR, INC. travel program for teens only will begin. Teenagers from all parts of the United States will converge on Los Angeles to get together for twenty-one days of dazzling adventure in Hollywood, Hawaii and Mexico. These guys and girls between the ages of fifteen and eighteen will check into their Action Tour hotel in Hollywood. At a special welcome dinner that evening, they’ll meet each other, and their Dick Clark Action Tour Guides and Tour Directors. Dick Clark himself will be their host for the evening.
The next five days in Hollywood and Southern California will be filled with all the special teen action and adventure that can be found in the entertainment capitol of the world. Action Teen Tourers will see the fabulous Sunset Strip with its countless discotheques and teen night clubs; in-person performances of popular recording stars; world-famous Hollywood glamour spots and landmarks; recording, television, and motion picture studios with actual productions in progress. All this will be climaxed by a special Hollywood Celebrity Poolside Party hosted by Dick Clark, and attended by many celebrities.
Visits to Knott’s Berry Farm and Ghost Town, an all-day outing to Disneyland, and Laguna Beach with its famous arts festival will all lead up to one magic final night at Hollywood’s newest and most outasite teen attraction: The Kaleidoscope Discotheque. Kaleidoscope is where famous bands and groups perform on a revolving stage beneath four simultaneous lightshows.
Next, it’s off to Hawaii via special Action Tour Pan American Jet Clipper for six wonder-filled days in the paradise islands. Swimming, surfing, and nightlife-for-teens in Waikiki; the International Market Place; a complete round-the-island tour of Oahu to the breath-taking beauty of the new Polynesian Cultural Center in exotic Laie; a trip by air to the Garden Isle of Kauai with its hidden Fern Grotto- an authentic Hawaiian luau, and all the majestic grandeur of Hawaii will be only some of the many fascinating things Action Teen Tourers will enjoy in the Island State.
On August 22nd, it’s an Action Tour up, up and away again, this time to Mexico City for three lush, Latin-American days that will include visits to University City, Chapultepec Castle, the National Palace, the great Aztec pyramids, and the sacred Shrine of Guadalupe. Then, across the majestic mountains by special chartered fun-buses to Taxco for a night in the “Silver City,” and then on to Acapulco for three precious last days of fun, sun, and farewell to new friends they’ll remember all their lives.
This Dick Clark Action Tour for girls and boys between 15 and 18 to Hollywood, Hawaii and Mexico is only the first of many planned for summers and holiday excursions to come. Reservations are being accepted now. Teens and parents who wish detailed information may write to: DICK CLARK ACTION TOURS, INC., 9125 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90069, or telephone area code 213-278-0311.
No idea how many teens and parents requested more information, but the August 10 issue of Record World featured an abbreviated summary of the same press release. So it was clearly widely distributed. (I couldn’t find any mention of it in Billboard, but teenagers were never their target demographic, I guess.)
It’s still unclear if this tour actually happened or if it was cancelled and immediately forgotten. There are no followup reports online, and there’s definitely nothing out there to suggest any later summer tours or holiday excursions taking place. The TV show “Happening ’68” was indeed renewed by ABC at the end of 1968 and renamed for the new year, so it’s clear that the Summer ’68 Action Tour for Teenagers did not negatively affect the brand.
If anybody has any definitive evidence one way or another, please reach out for sure!
But still. What a crazy time when something like this got as far along as it did, promising teenagers twenty-one dazzling days of freedom and fun.