American Idol's Ryan Seacrest considered Dick Clark his mentor and friend, and says he is "Deeply saddened" by Clark's death yesterday.

Seacrest frequently referred to Clark as the man whose model he followed while building his own media empire.

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Dick Clark," Seacrest said in a statement. "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 six years. He was smart, charming, funny and always a true gentleman," he continued. "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 audien ces around the world. We will all miss him."

In addition to Seacrest's heartfelt tribute to Clark at the beginning of last night's American Idol, the host also payed tribute to Clark last year at the Daytime Emmy Awards.

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