Ryan Seacrest Honors Dick Clark in Touching Tribute to His Mentor (VIDEO)

One thing's clear from the overwhelming response to Dick Clark's death: the man was a legend. There's no one quite like him, but if you had to pick the one guy who seems ready to become a similar sort of entertainment icon, Ryan Seacrest seems like the standout choice.

I was interested in what Ryan Seacrest's public response to Dick Clark's passing would be, since Clark was such an obvious influence in his career. Seacrest's acknowledgment came both during and after Wednesday's American Idol, when he paid heartfelt tribute to the man who was his colleague, mentor, and close personal friend.

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Just hours after Clark succumbed to a massive heart attack, Seacrest spoke out about his loss to the American Idol audience, saying:

We can't begin tonight's show without acknowledging the passing of a TV pioneer and my dear friend Dick Clark. Without Dick a show like this would not exist. He will be missed greatly.

After giving his best to Clark's family, Seacrest said he believed the late producer was watching over him from above:

I know he's in a better place, saying 'Hey, let's get on with the show.' You got it, boss.

I started thinking of Ryan Seacrest as the next Dick Clark after Clark's stroke in 2004 -- seeing the ease in which Seacrest stepped into Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve role showed that he was destined for much more than just glad-handing during American Idol. Seacrest seems to be the hardest working guy in show business these days, with multiple TV hosting gigs, a radio show, and a production company.

Clark obviously paved the way for broadcasters like Ryan Seacrest, and Seacrest has never minimized what he's learned from Clark, even saying that he owes his signature breezy style to Clark's advice:

Dick once said to me, 'If everyone who watches you on TV thinks that they can do your job, you're doing your job perfectly.'

After last night's American Idol, Ryan remembered his friend in an emotional statement, saying,

I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dick Clark. He has truly been one of the greatest influences in my life. I idolized him from the start, and I was graced early on in my career with his generous advice and counsel. When I joined his show in 2006, it was a dream come true to work with him every New Year’s Eve for the last 6 years. He was smart, charming, funny and always a true gentleman. I learned a great deal from him, and I’ll always be indebted to him for his faith and support of me. He was a remarkable host and businessman and left a rich legacy to television audiences around the world. We will all miss him.

Here's the video of that moment:

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What I think is really impressive about Ryan Seacrest, aside from his freakish work ethic, is that he's been so willing to give credit where credit's due. There are a lot of celebrities who would want to distance themselves from any perceived competition, yet Seacrest has always expressed what an honor it is to be compared to Dick Clark.

It may be early to definitively say that Ryan Seacrest is destined to be Dick Clark's successor, but as someone who's already a hugely recognizable figure in entertainment and pop culture, he seems well on his way. And truly, he seems like the best man for the job.

Do you think Ryan Seacrest will be able to fill Dick Clark's shoes?

Image via ABC

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