With his authentic but accessible style and his role as a host of “Hee Haw,” Clark was one of country music’s main ambassadors to the world in the 1970s. As a teen, he played guitar with his amateur musician father and also won two national banjo competitions, leading to an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. In the mid-‘50s he succeeded Jimmy Dean on the Washington, D.C., television show “Country Style,” then moved west and played with singer Wanda Jackson. He continued performing on his own at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas and landed spots on “The Tonight Show” and “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
Clark’s recording success was modest, but his career took off in 1969 when he joined Buck Owens as co-host of “Hee Haw” on CBS for two years and then in syndication. The show’s popularity led to several country chart hits for Clark, who also toured extensively and made a trailblazing trip to the Soviet Union in 1976. In recent years, Clark has focused on performing at his theater in Branson, Mo.