Casey Kasem was a well-known American radio jockey, disc jockey, voice actor and actor. Apart from being a popular radio jockey, he was also a philanthropist and animal lover. He was reportedly inspired by "Make Believe Ballroom" to follow a career in radio, and his chance to work as a DJ/announcer came with the U.S. army on the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network. He voiced the character of Shaggy in the famous ‘Scooby-Doo’ series, as well as hosted the mega-successful radio program ‘America Top 40’. He was proud of his radio program for he believed that he was playing a major part in bringing disconnected loved ones together and also connecting music enthusiasts to their favorite music idols. His unprecedented success from his radio program earned him the title of ‘The King of Countdowns’ from his fans, all around the world. He also acted in minor roles in a number of movies as well as provided his voice for many commercials and TV show characters. His legacy and prosperous career has inspired many voice artists over the years.
- Born on April 27, 1932, Kemal Amen ‘Casey’ Kasem was named after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the famous Turkish leader, whom Casey’s father came to respect a lot. Both of Kasem’s parents were Lebanese Druze immigrants, who worked as grocers in Michigan, where he was born.Kasem was first inspired to pursue a career in radio by a show called ‘Make Believe Ballroom’. As his first ever stint in radio, he covered Sports Day in Northwestern High School. While completing his graduation from the Wayne State University, he provided the voices for children in shows such as ‘Challenge of the Yukon’ and ‘The Lone Ranger’.Career
- His career started off with broadcasting in Michigan. After moving to Detroit, he got involved with shows such as ‘Sergeant Preston of Yukon’ and ‘The Lone Ranger’.Next, he moved to Los Angeles to continue a career in radio and acting by joining KRLA. Here, he was discovered by Dick Clark, who then offered him a role in a TV musical called ‘Shebang’.From 1968 to 1969, Kasem gave voice to the character of Robin in the show called ‘The Batman/The Superman Hour’. He also appeared in the small role of ‘Knife’ in the movie ‘Wild Wheels’.He was offered the role of voicing Scooby Doo’s sidekick, Shaggy, in the famous cartoon show ‘Scooby-Doo, Where are you!’ Kasem had no idea that this job would last him almost a lifetime. He went onto voice many other spin-offs and movies in the Scooby-Doo franchise, retiring from this job only in the year 2009.Another significant achievement of Kasem’s career came in the year 1970, when he started his own radio program called ‘America Top 40’, where he counted down the top music tracks of the country. The show hit such peaks of success that there came a time when it was broadcast over 1000 radio channels internationally. It ran for nearly a couple of decades before wrapping up in the year 1988.He also provided voice to Alexander Cabot III in some of the episodes of the ‘Josie and the Pussycats’ series. He became the voice for several characters on the legendary show ‘Sesame Street’.Major Works
- Kasem’s career flourished both as a voice actor and a radio personality. People still remember him for being the unique voice of Shaggy in the ‘Scooby-doo’ series as well as entertaining America and the world with his radio program ‘America Top 40’.Awards & Achievements
- In 1981, Casey Kasem was presented with a star on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’. This was done to commemorate his hard work and the years he had put in as a radio jockey.In 1992, he was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. Incidentally, he was the youngest inductee ever.In 1996, the American Druze Society honored Kasem with the title of ‘Man of the Year’.In 1997, he was awarded with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the National Radio Hall of Fame. This was also the first award of this category to be given to an individual in this award’s history. He also received the ‘Radio Icon award’, which was presented to him at the Radio Music Awards in 2003.Personal Life & Legacy
- Casey got married twice in his lifetime. His first wife was Linda Myers, to whom he was married from 1972 to 1979. He had three children from his first marriage.In 1980, he married Jean Thompson, an actress, and was married to her till his last breath. He has one child from his second marriage.While doctors initially diagnosed Kasem with the Parkinson’s disease in 2007, they rectified their diagnosis and revealed that he suffered from Lewy body dementia in 2013. This made him unable to speak during his final days.Kasem died on 15th July 2014, at the age of 82, at St. Anthony's Hospital in Washington. He was buried in Oslo.Trivia
- He fought for animal rights and environmental issues and was a vegan. In 1995, he went as far as quitting the ‘Scooby Doo’ show because he had been asked to be the voice of Shaggy in a Burger King Commercial. He renewed his contract in 2002 only after the creators of the show assured him that they would be turning the character of Shaggy into a vegetarian.He showed his support towards the Arab-American and Lebanese-American issues, in light of the invasion of Lebanon by the Israelis in 1982. Towards this, he wrote a brochure entitled ‘Arab-Americans: Making a Difference’, which was published by the Arab American Institute.He was offered a position in the third season of “The Transformers”, which he refused. Being a devout supporter of the Arab-American relationship, he objected to the portrayal of the Arabs in a bad light.
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