Kemal Amin Kasem
April 27, 1932
|Died||June 15, 2014 (aged 82)|
Gig Harbor, Washington, U.S.
|Resting place||Oslo Western Civil Cemetery, Oslo, Norway|
|Education||Northwestern High School|
|Alma mater||Wayne State University|
|Children||4, including Kerri and Mike Kasem|
Kemal Amin "Casey" Kasem (April 27, 1932 – June 15, 2014) was an American disc jockey, radio personality, and voice actor, who created and hosted several radio countdown programs, notably American Top 40. He was the first actor to voice Norville "Shaggy" Rogers in the Scooby-Doo franchise (1969 to 1997 and 2002 to 2009).
Kasem began hosting the original American Top 40 on the weekend of July 4, 1970, and remained there until 1988. He would then spend nine years hosting another countdown titled Casey's Top 40, beginning in January 1989 and ending in February 1998, before returning to revive American Top 40 in 1998. Along the way, spin-offs of the original countdown were conceived for country music and adult contemporary audiences, and Kasem hosted two countdowns for the latter format beginning in 1992 and continuing until 2009. He also founded the American Video Awards in 1983 and continued to co-produce and host it until its final show in 1987.
Kasem also provided many commercial voiceovers, performed many voices for children's television (such as Sesame Street and the Transformers cartoon series), was "the voice of NBC" and helped with the annual Jerry Lewis telethon.
Kasem was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 27, 1932, to Lebanese Druze immigrants, Helen and Amin Kasem, who were grocers. He was named after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a man Kasem said his father respected. Kasem's parents did not allow their children to speak Arabic and insisted they assimilate into American life.
In the 1940s, "Make Believe Ballroom" reportedly inspired Kasem to follow a career in radio. Kasem received his first experience in radio covering sports at Northwestern High School in Detroit. He then attended Wayne State University, where he voiced children on radio programs such as The Lone Ranger and Challenge of the Yukon. In 1952, Kasem was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Korea. There, he worked as a DJ/announcer on the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network.
After the war, Kasem began his professional broadcasting career in Flint, Michigan, later working in Detroit as a disc jockey for WJBK-AM (and doing such shows as The Lone Ranger and Sergeant Preston of the Yukon), WBNY in Buffalo, New York and a station in Cleveland before moving to California. At KYA in San Francisco, the general manager suggested he tone down his delivery and talk about the records instead. At KEWB in Oakland, California, Kasem was both the music director and an on-air personality. He said he was inspired by a Who's Who in Pop Music, 1962 magazine he found in the trash. He created a show that mixed biographical tidbits about the artists he played, and attracted the attention of Bill Gavin, who tried to recruit him as a partner. After Kasem joined KRLA in Los Angeles in 1963, his career began to blossom and he championed the R&B music of East L.A.
Kasem acted in a number of low-budget movies and radio dramas. While hosting "dance hops" on local television, he attracted the attention of Dick Clark, who hired him as co-host of a daily teenage music show called Shebang, starting in 1964. Kasem's roles on network TV series included Hawaii Five-O and Ironside. In 1967, he appeared on The Dating Game, and played the role of "Mouth" in the motorcycle gang film The Glory Stompers. In 1969, he played the role of Knife in the film Wild Wheels, and had a small role in another biker movie, The Cycle Savages, starring Bruce Dern and Melody Patterson, and The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (also with Dern).
Kasem's voice was the key to his career. In 1964 during the Beatlemania craze, Kasem had a minor hit single called "Letter from Elaina", a spoken-word recording that told the story of a girl who met George Harrison after a San Francisco Beatles concert. At the end of the 1960s, he began working as a voice actor. In 1969, he started one of his most famous roles, the voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. He also voiced the drummer Groove from The Cattanooga Cats that year.
On July 4, 1970, Kasem, along with Don Bustany, Tom Rounds, and Ron Jacobs, launched the weekly radio program American Top 40 (AT40). At the time, top 40 radio was on the decline as DJs preferred to play album-oriented progressive rock. Loosely based on the TV program Your Hit Parade, the show counted down from #40 to #1 based on the Billboard Hot 100 weekly chart. Kasem mixed in biographical information and trivia about the artists, as well as flashbacks and "Long-Distance Dedication" segments in which he read letters from listeners wishing to dedicate songs to distant loved ones. Frequently, he mentioned a trivia fact about an unnamed singer before a commercial break, then provided the name of the singer after returning from the break. Kasem ended the program with his signature sign-off, "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."
The show debuted on seven stations but soon went nationwide. In October 1978, the show expanded from three hours to four. American Top 40's success spawned several imitators, including a weekly half-hour music video television show, America's Top 10, hosted by Kasem himself. "When we first went on the air, I thought we would be around for at least 20 years," he later remarked. "I knew the formula worked. I knew people tuned in to find out what the number 1 record was." Because of his great knowledge of music, Kasem became known for his commentaries on music history that he interspersed with trivia about the artists.
In 1971, Kasem provided the character voice of Peter Cottontail in the Rankin/Bass production of Here Comes Peter Cottontail. In the same year, he appeared in The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant, in what is probably his best-remembered acting role. From 1973 to 1985, Kasem voiced Robin for several Super Friends franchise shows. In 1980, he voiced Merry in The Return of the King. He also voiced Alexander Cabot III on Josie and the Pussycats and Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, and supplied a number of voices for Sesame Street.
In the late 1970s, Kasem portrayed an actor who imitated Columbo in the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries two-part episode "The Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom." He portrayed a golf commentator in an episode of Charlie's Angels titled "Winning is for Losers", and appeared on Police Story, Quincy, M.E. and Switch. In 1977, Kasem was hired as the narrator for the ABC sitcom Soap, but quit after the pilot episode because of the show's controversial content. Rod Roddy took his place on the program. In 1984, Kasem made a cameo in Ghostbusters, reprising his role as the host of American Top 40. For a period in the late 1970s, he was the staff announcer for the NBC television network.
In 1983 Kasem helped found the American Video Awards, an annual music video award show taped for distribution to television, which he also hosted and co-produced. His goal was to make it the "Oscars" of music videos. There were only five award shows. The final show aired in 1987.
In 1988, Kasem left American Top 40 because of a contract dispute with ABC Radio Network. He signed a five-year, $15 million contract with Westwood One and started Casey's Top 40, which used a different chart, the Radio & Records Contemporary (CHR)/Pop radio airplay chart (also employed contemporaneously by Rick Dees Weekly Top 40). He also hosted two shorter versions of the show, Casey's Hot 20 and Casey's Countdown. During the late 1990s, Kasem hosted the Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Kasem voiced Mark in Battle of the Planets and several Transformers characters: Bluestreak, Cliffjumper, Teletraan I and Dr. Arkeville. He left Transformers during the third season because he believed the show contained offensive caricatures of Arabs and Arab countries. In a 1990 article, he explained:
A few years ago, I was doing one of the voices in the TV cartoon series, Transformers. One week, the script featured an evil character named Abdul, King of Carbombya. He was like all the other cartoon Arabs. I asked the director, 'Are there any good Arabs in this script for balance?' We looked. There was one other — but he was no different than Abdul. So, I told the show’s director that, in good conscience, I couldn't be a part of that show.
From 1989 to 1998, Kasem hosted Nick at Nite's New Year's Eve countdown of the top reruns of the year. He also made cameo appearances on Saved by the Bell and ALF in the early 1990s. In 1997, Kasem quit his role as Shaggy in a dispute over a Burger King commercial, with Billy West and Scott Innes taking over the character in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The original American Top 40, hosted by Shadoe Stevens after Kasem's departure, was cancelled in 1995. Kasem regained the rights to the name in 1997, and the show was back on the air in 1998, on the AMFM Network (later acquired by Premiere Radio Networks).
At the end of 2003, Kasem announced he would leave AT40 once his contract expired and would be replaced by Ryan Seacrest. He agreed to a new contract to continue hosting his weekly adult contemporary countdown shows in the interim, which at the time were both titled American Top 20. In 2005 Kasem renewed his deal with Premiere Radio Networks to continue hosting his shows, one of which had been reduced to ten songs and was retitled American Top 10 to reflect the change.
In April 2005, a television special called American Top 40 Live aired on the Fox network, hosted by Seacrest, with Kasem appearing on the show. In 2008, Kasem did the voice-over for WGN America's Out of Sight Retro Night. He was also the host of the short-lived American version of 100% during the 1998–99 season.
In June 2009, Premiere announced it would no longer produce Kasem's two remaining countdowns, ending their eleven-year relationship. Kasem, by this point at age 77, decided against finding another syndicator or replacement host, citing a desire to explore other avenues such as writing a memoir. He sent a press release announcing he would retire from radio on the July 4 weekend, the 39th anniversary of the first countdown show.
Kasem also performed TV commercial voice-overs throughout his career, appearing in more than 100 commercials.
In 2002, Kasem reprised the role of Shaggy. In 2009, he retired from voice acting, with his final performance being the voice of Shaggy in Scooby-Doo! and the Samurai Sword. He did voice Shaggy again for "The Official BBC Children in Need Medley", but went uncredited by his request. Although officially retired from acting, Kasem provided the voice of Colton Rogers, Shaggy's father, on a recurring basis for the 2010–2013 series Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, again uncredited at his request.
As for his recognizable voice quality, "It's a natural quality of huskiness in the midrange of my voice that I call 'garbage,'" he stated to The New York Times. "It's not a clear-toned announcer's voice. It's more like the voice of the guy next door."
Kasem was a dedicated vegan, supported animal rights and environmental causes, and was a critic of factory farming. He initially quit voicing Shaggy in the mid to late 1990s when asked to voice Shaggy in a Burger King commercial, but returned in 2002 after negotiating to have Shaggy become a vegetarian.
Kasem was active in politics, supporting Lebanese-American and Arab-American causes, an interest triggered by the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. He wrote a brochure published by the Arab American Institute entitled "Arab-Americans: Making a Difference". He called for a fairer depiction of heroes and villains on behalf of all cultures in Disney's 1994 sequel to Aladdin called The Return of Jafar. In 1996, he was honored as "Man of the Year" by the American Druze Society. Kasem campaigned against the Gulf War, advocating non-military means of pressuring Saddam Hussein into withdrawing from Kuwait, was an advocate of Palestinian independence and arranged conflict-resolution workshops for Arab Americans and Jewish Americans.
A political liberal, Kasem narrated a campaign ad for George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign, hosted fundraisers for Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988, supported Ralph Nader for U.S. president in 2000, and supported progressive Democrat Dennis Kucinich in his 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns. Kasem supported a number of other progressive causes, including affordable housing and the rights of the homeless.
Kasem was married to Linda Myers from 1972 to 1979. They had three children: Mike, Julie, and Kerri Kasem.
Kasem was married to actress Jean Thompson from 1980 until his death. They had one child, Liberty Jean Kasem.
In 1989, Kasem purchased a home built in 1954 and located at 138 North Mapleton Drive in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, previously owned by developer Abraham M. Lurie, as a birthday present for his wife, Jean. In 2013, Kasem and his wife put the home on the market for US$43 million. After the dueling lawsuits between Kasem family members were settled, the property was re-listed in 2021 for US$37.9 million.
In October 2013, Kerri Kasem announced her father had Parkinson's disease, diagnosed in 2007. However a few months later, she said he had Lewy body dementia, which is hard to differentiate from Parkinson's. His condition left him unable to speak during his final months.
As Kasem's health worsened in 2013, his wife Jean prevented any contact with him, particularly by his children from his first marriage. On October 1, the children protested in front of the Kasem home. Some of Kasem's friends and colleagues, and his brother Mouner, joined the protest. The older Kasem children sought conservatorship over their father's care. The court denied their petition in November.
Jean removed Kasem from his Santa Monica, California nursing home on May 7, 2014. On May 12, Kerri Kasem was granted temporary conservatorship over her father, despite her stepmother's objection. The court ordered an investigation into Casey Kasem's whereabouts after his wife's attorney told the court that Casey was "no longer in the United States". He was found soon afterward in Washington state.
On June 6, 2014, Kasem was reported to be in critical but stable condition in hospital in Washington state, receiving antibiotics for bedsores and treatment for high blood pressure. It was revealed he had been bedridden for some time. A judge ordered separate visitation times for Kasem's wife and his children from his first marriage. Judge Daniel S. Murphy ruled that Kasem had to be hydrated, fed and medicated as a court-appointed lawyer reported on his health status. Jean Kasem claimed he had been given no food, water or medication the previous weekend. Kerri Kasem's lawyer stated that she had him removed from artificial food and water on the orders of a doctor and in accordance with a directive her father signed in 2007 saying he would not want to be kept alive if it "would result in a mere biological existence, devoid of cognitive function, with no reasonable hope for normal functioning." Murphy reversed his order the following Monday after it became known that Kasem's body was no longer responding to the artificial nutrition, allowing the family to place Kasem on "end-of-life" measures over the objections of Jean Kasem.
On June 15, 2014, Kasem died at St. Anthony's Hospital in Gig Harbor, Washington at the age of 82. The immediate cause of death was reported as sepsis caused by an ulcerated bedsore. His body was handed over to his widow. Reportedly, Kasem wanted to be buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.
By July 19, a judge had granted Kerri Kasem a temporary restraining order to prevent Jean Kasem from cremating the body in order to allow an autopsy to be performed. However, when Kerri Kasem went to give a copy of the order to the funeral home, she was informed that the body had been moved at the direction of Jean Kasem. Kasem's wife had the body moved to a funeral home in Montreal on July 14, 2014. On August 14, it was reported in the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang that Kasem was going to be buried in Oslo.
Jean Kasem had him interred at Oslo Western Civil Cemetery on December 16, 2014, more than six months after his death.
In November 2015, three of Kasem's children and his brother sued his widow for wrongful death. The lawsuit charges Jean Kasem with elder abuse and inflicting emotional distress on the children by restricting access before his death. A 2018 police investigation initiated by a private investigator working for Jean found that he had received appropriate medical care while in Washington, and that there was no evidence pointing to homicide. The suits were settled in 2019.
In 1981, Kasem was granted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame radio division in 1985, and the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1992. Five years later, he received the Radio Hall of Fame's first Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2003, Kasem was given the Radio Icon award at the Radio Music Awards.
|1967||First to Fight||Minor Role||Uncredited|
|1967||The Glory Stompers||Mouth|||
|1969||2000 Years Later||Disk Jockey|||
|1969||The Cycle Savages||Keeg's Brother|||
|1970||The Girls from Thunder Strip||Conrad|||
|1971||The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant||Ken|||
|1972||Doomsday Machine||Mission Control Officer|
|1976||The Gumball Rally||Radio D.J. (voice)||Uncredited|
|1977||New York, New York||D.J. aka Midnight Bird|
|1978||Disco Fever||Brian Parker|
|1979||The Dark||Police Pathologist|||
|1979||Scooby Goes Hollywood||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||TV movie|
|1980||The Return of the King||Meriadoc 'Merry' Brandybuck, a Hobbit (voice)||TV movie|
|1986||The Transformers: The Movie||Cliffjumper (voice)|||
|1987||Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||TV movie|
|1988||Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School||Shaggy Rogers / Mirror Monster (voices)||TV movie|
|1988||Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||TV movie|
|1994||Scooby-Doo! in Arabian Nights||TV movie|
|1997||James Dean: Live Fast, Die Young||Bill Romano|
|2000||Rugrats in Paris: The Movie||Wedding DJ (voice)|
|2001||The Comedy Team of Pete & James||Himself (voice)|
|2003||Scooby-Doo! and the Legend of the Vampire||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||Direct-to-video|
|2003||Scooby-Doo! and the Monster of Mexico|
|2003||Looney Tunes: Back in Action|
|2004||Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster||Direct-to-video|
|2005||Scooby-Doo! in Where's My Mummy?|
|2006||Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy!|
|2007||Chill Out, Scooby-Doo!|
|2008||Scooby-Doo! and the Goblin King|
|2009||Scooby-Doo! and the Samurai Sword|
|2010||Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey||Himself (voice)|
|1964||The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo||Additional voices|
|1968||Garrison's Gorillas||Provost Marshal||Episode: "The Death Sentence"|
|1968–1969||The Batman/Superman Hour||Robin / Dick Grayson (voice)||17 episodes|
|1969–1970||Hot Wheels||Tank Mallory / Dexter Carter (voices)||5 episodes|
|1969–1971||Cattanooga Cats||Groove, the drummer (voice)||17 episodes|
|1969–1970||Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||25 episodes|
|1970||Skyhawks||Steve Wilson, Joe Conway (voices)||Episode: "Devlin's Dilemma"|
|1970–1971||Josie and the Pussycats||Alexander Cabot III (voice)||16 episodes|
|1970–1992||Sesame Street||Blue Man in 'Q for Quarter' Cartoon / Fly (voices)||17 episodes|
|1971||Here Comes Peter Cottontail||Peter Cottontail (voice)||Stop-motion Easter special for Rankin-Bass|
|1972||Wait Till Your Father Gets Home||George (voice)||Episode: "The Neighbors"|
|1972–1973||The New Scooby-Doo Movies||Shaggy Rogers, Robin, Alexander Cabot III, Ghost of Injun Joe (voices)||24 episodes|
|1972||Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space||Alexander Cabot III (voice)||16 episodes|
|1973||The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas||Narrator (voice)||Animated Christmas TV special|
|1973–1985||Super Friends||Robin / Dick Grayson (voices)||109 episodes|
|1974||The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast||Adolf Hitler||Episode: "The Roast of Don Rickles"|
|1974||Hong Kong Phooey||Car Stealer, Clown (voices)||2 episodes|
|1974||Hawaii Five-O||Swift, Freddie Dryden||5 episodes|
|1974||Emergency +4||Additional voices||12 episodes|
|1974||Ironside||Lab Technician, Jim Crutcher||2 episodes|
|1974||The City That Forgot About Christmas||Additional voices||Christmas TV special|
|1975||The Night That Panicked America||Mercury Theatre Player||TV movie|
|1975||The Last of the Mohicans||Uncas (voice)||TV movie|
|1976–1977||Dynomutt, Dog Wonder||Fishface / Swamp Rat / Shaggy Rogers (voices)||5 episodes|
|1976–1978||The Scooby-Doo Show||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||40 episodes|
|1976||Freedom Is||Additional voices||TV movie|
|1977||Police Story||Sobhe||Episode: "Trial Board"|
|1977||Quincy, M.E.||Sy Wallace||Episode: "An Unfriendly Radiance"|
|1977||The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries||Paul Hamilton||Episode: "The Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom" (Parts 1 & 2)|
|1977||Switch||Tony Brock||Episode: "Fade Out"|
|1977–1978||What's New, Mr. Magoo?||Waldo (voice)||10 episodes|
|1977–1979||Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics||Shaggy Rogers / Mr. Creeply (voices)||24 episodes|
|1977||Soap||Narrator (voice)||Unaired pilot (Kasem left the show before it aired. Narration for the pilot was rerecorded by Rod Roddy before airing.)|
|1978||Charlie's Angels||Tom Rogers||Episode: "Winning Is for Losers"|
|1978||Yogi's Space Race||Additional voices||7 episodes|
|1978||Jana of the Jungle||Additional voices||13 episodes|
|1978–1985||Battle of the Planets||Mark (voice)||85 episodes; American dubbed adaptation of anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (in which the character was originally called "Ken the Eagle")|
|1979||The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone||Monty Marble (voice)||Animated Halloween TV special|
|1979–1980||Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||16 episodes|
|1980–1982||The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||21 episodes|
|1982||The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||13 episodes|
|1982||The Gary Coleman Show||Additional voices||Uncredited, 2 episodes|
|1983||The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show||Shaggy Rogers / Mr. Rogers / Mrs. Rogers (voices)||13 episodes|
|1983||Matt Houston||Master of Ceremonies||Episode: "Target: Miss World"|
|1984||The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries||Shaggy Rogers, Grandpa Rogers (voices)||13 episodes|
|1984–1986||The Transformers||Cliffjumper / Bluestreak / Teletraan I / Dr. Arkeville (voices)||60 episodes|
|1985||The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||13 episodes|
|1988–1991||A Pup Named Scooby-Doo||Shaggy Rogers / Mr. Rogers (voices)||27 episodes|
|1989–1991||Saved by the Bell||Himself||Episodes: "Dancing to the Max", "Rockumentary"|
|1989||Family Feud||Himself||(cameo appearance), "Funny Men vs. Funny Women" Week episode|
|1989||Hanna-Barbera's 50th: A Yabba Dabba Doo Celebration||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||TV Special|
|1990||The Fantastic World of Hanna-Barbera||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||TV Special|
|1991||Tiny Toons Adventures||Flakey Flakems (voice)||Episode: "Here's Hamton"|
|1991||Beverly Hills, 90210||Mr. Franklin's Friend||Uncredited, Episode: "Spring Training"|
|1992–1993||The Ben Stiller Show||Himself||2 episodes|
|1993||2 Stupid Dogs||Bill Barker (voice)||Episode: "Let's Make a Right Price/One Ton/Far-Out Friday"|
|1994||Captain Planet and the Planeteers||Lexo Starbuck (voice)||Episode: "You Bet Your Planet"|
|1996||Sister, Sister||Himself||Episode: "The Audition"|
|1996||Homeboys in Outer Space||Spacy Kasem||Episode: "Loquatia Unplugged, or Come Back, Little Cyber"|
|1997||Johnny Bravo||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||Episode: "The Sensitive Male/Bravo Dooby Doo"|
|2000||Histeria!||Calgary Kasem (voice)||Episode: "North America"|
|2002–2006||What's New, Scooby-Doo?||Shaggy Rogers / Virtual Shaggy (voices)||42 episodes|
|2002||Sabrina the Teenage Witch||Shaggy Rogers (voice)||Episode: "Sabrina Unplugged"|
|2003||Blue's Clues||Radio (voice)||Episode: "Blue's Big Car Trip"|
|2003||Teamo Supremo||DJ Despicable (voice)||Episode: "Doin' the Supremo!"|
|2006–2008||Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!||Uncle Albert Shaggleford (voice)||22 episodes|
|2010−2013||Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated||Colton Rogers (voice)||5 episodes (after retirement); Final appearance.|
|1995||Scooby-Doo Mystery||Shaggy Rogers|
|2009||Scooby-Doo's Yum Yum Go!||Shaggy Rogers|
|1990||The Fantastic World of Hanna-Barbera||Shaggy Rogers||Voice|
Married singer-actress Linda Myers in 1972. The couple had three children before divorcing in 1979.
Nearly three weeks after the death of American radio legend Casey Kasem, his son Mike confirms his father’s body has not yet been buried.
The Oslo graveyard authority confirm that Casey Kasem's body will be transported to Norway