He was Batman’s sidekick, an Autobot warrior, Scooby-Doo’s best friend and the wholesome voice of American radio. Casey Kasem died early this morning at the age of 82.
Born to Lebanese immigrants in Detroit, Michigan on April 27, 1932, Kemal Amin “Casey” Kasem’s distinctive voice earned him a career in professional radio. In 1952 he was drafted by the US Army to serve in the Korean War, where he acted as a DJ for the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network. Kasem popularised the practice of introducing music with snippets of trivia about the song or artist performing it. He also prided himself on his wholesome persona, going as far as to avoid reading the titles of racier songs — the New York Times’ obituary recalls him calling George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” simply “George Michael’s latest.”
In 1970 Kasem co-created and began hosting the American Top 40, a weekly music countdown show that quickly became one of the most popular syndicated radio programs in the world. He hosted the show through 1988, returning to host its 1998 revival until handing the reins to Ryan Seacrest in 2004.
While Casey Kasem did some work as a screen actor and television host, he is most well-known outside of radio for his cartoon voice work. Kasem provided the voice of Batman’s sidekick Robin, beginning with 1968’s The Batman/Superman Hour and ending with 1985’s The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. In 1984 he became the voice of Cliffjumper (and various others) in The Transformers, leaving the show in 1987 due to its stereotypical depiction of Arabs.
Casey Kasem’s most famous cartoon role was that of Shaggy Rogers, the hungry-hungry hippie sidekick of Scooby-Doo. Kasem provided Shaggy’s voice in the duo’s 1969 debut, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You, and continued voicing the character until 2009’s Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword.
Between his cartoon and radio work, Kasem touched the lives of millions of people across several generations.
Casey Kasem’s death was due to complications of Lewy body dementia, a dementia closely associated with Parkinson’s disease. He passed early Sunday morning in a hospital in Gig Harbor, Washington, surrounded by family. He will be missed.
Casey Kasem, Wholesome Voice of Pop Radio, Dies at 82 [The New York Times]
Picture: AP, by Joe Cavaretta