American Top 40 radio host and animation voice artist Casey Kasem passed away on U.S. Father’s Day, June 15, 2014. According to the Los Angeles Times, Kasem died in a hospital in Gig Harbor, Washington. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and a form of dementia. His passing occurred after an ongoing and highly publicized fight over his health care between his three adult children (all from his first marriage to Linda Meyers) and his second wife, Jean Thompson Kasem.
As a Los Angeles-based DJ, Kasem was one of the most recognized radio voices in the U.S.A. He hosted the popular syndicated radio program American Top 40 from 1970 – 1988 and again from 1998 – 2004. (This radio show is now hosted by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest.) He was the youngest member to ever be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame and was the first recipient of Billboard Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
While Kasem appeared in a few live action films and television programs (and sometimes just as himself in a various cameo roles), he was a prolific animation voice actor. He voiced the Scooby-Doo! character of Shaggy for 40 years in the multiple iterations of the perennial favorite, beginning with 1969’s original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! TV series and ending with 2009’s direct-to-video feature Scooby-Doo! and the Samurai Sword. (He also played the voice of Colton Rogers in the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated series that ran from 2010-2013). Kasem was the voice of Robin/Dick Grayson in multiple TV animated series featuring Batman, including 1968’s The Batman/Superman Hour and multiple Super Friends series in the 1970s and 1980s. Make sure to check out his IMDB page to see his many and diverse animation roles.
What I remember most about Casey Kasem was how his voice carried a great sense of happiness and optimism in it and I always felt better for having heard him. His famous quote that he ended every American Top 40 broadcast with still resonates with me today: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!” Thanks for the memories, Casey, and rest in peace.