Casey Kasem, 1932 – 2014
Radio legend Casey Kasem passed away last Sunday at the age of 82.
Kasem had been suffering from Lewy body dementia, which is often difficult to differentiate from Parkinson’s disease. He was initially diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007.
Casey Kasem will be most remembered for his American Top 40 countdown show, which played the songs listed on the weekly Billboard pop music charts. A television version that played videos of the top 10 songs ran in syndication during the 1980s.
The radio show aired on different networks from 1970 to 2004, reaching 10 million listeners a week in its heyday. Kasem ended his show every week with the iconic phrase, “don’t forget: keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, a long time admirer of Kasem, continues the show.
Kasem was also a voice over artist who did many commercials over the years. He was also the voice of several Saturday morning cartoon characters, including Batman’s sidekick Robin on the Justice League, and Scooby Doo’s sidekick, Shaggy.
A Lebanese-American, Kasem was active in Arab-American causes. His left-leaning activism caused Kasem to abruptly stop his work as Shaggy in 1995, when he was asked to a Burger King commercial. Kasem returned in 2002 after Shaggy became a vegetarian.
As Kasem’s health deteriorated, a bitter custody battle broke out between his second wife and his children from his first marriage. At one point, Kasem’s daughter accused Jean Kasem of kidnapping the radio legend.