Arlene Sullivan flipped through the pages while sitting on her couch, pointing to different pictures of her and her friends from the past.
This wasn’t a yearbook or scrapbook, but a new coffee-table book she co-authored about her years on the television series “American Bandstand.” The book is called “Bandstand Diaries: The Philadelphia Years 1956 to 1963.”
“American Bandstand,” which originally aired as just “Bandstand” in 1952, was shot at WFIL-TV’s studios in West Philadelphia, first with hosts Bob Horn and Lee Stewart and later Dick Clark.
The show featured popular songs and dances and was the first TV appearances for stars such as Chubby Checker, Frankie Avalon and Patti LaBelle.
Sullivan, 73, who grew up in Philadelphia and lives in Ventnor, will be in Philadelphia on Friday at the original show’s studio at the Enterprise Center to sign copies of the new book.
The idea for the book started in 2013, when co-author Sharon Sultan Cutler contacted Sullivan to contribute to the book. Sullivan initially declined but was convinced to add her memories of the show — and she had plenty.
Sullivan was one of the “regulars” dancing on the show from 1956 to 1960.
She remembers the time she won an Italian-designed Isetta micro-car from a dance contest. She remembers disc jockey Jerry Blavat and others protesting outside the Enterprise Center when Dick Clark took over the show from Bob Horn in 1956.
The show, Sullivan said, was the MTV for kids of the 1950s. It was pop culture before the term was coined.
“It was ‘Bandstand’ that was delivering the hip songs at the time,” she said. “All the artists that got on ‘Bandstand’ would have a hit record.”
Sullivan said kids who watched the show wanted to be like her and the other dancers.
“But they were,” she said. “We were just like them, and they were just like us. We weren’t professionals. We were amateurs.”
Sullivan and her friends would head to 46th & Market streets in Philadelphia after school, dance for a couple of hours and head home by curfew.
“Our parents knew what time we had to be home, and they could watch us on TV. It was just an innocent time,” she said.
Sullivan moved to Atlantic City when gambling became legal and worked as a blackjack dealer. She was there the day Harrah’s Resort opened its doors, and she worked at the Golden Nugget Atlantic City when it was known as Trump’s Castle. She moved to Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in 1993 and stayed there as a dealer until her retirement in 2011.
Sullivan hopes the book shows younger generations the show their parents and grandparents grew up on.
The show’s success still surprises her.
“We were just regular kids. None of us ever expected this show to become one of the most popular shows in the United States,” she said.
Though she has been back to multiple reunions since leaving “American Bandstand” in 1960, she still enjoys walking around the Enterprise Center, scanning the walls of photos of some of the best times of her life.
She’s excited to take a stroll down memory lane Friday.
“When you think back, it’s almost 60 years ago. It’s unbelievable how fast it flies by,” she said.