Kemal Amen "Casey" Kasem (April 27, 1932 – June 15, 2014) was an American disc jockey, radio personality, music historian, stand-up comedian, actor, singer, musician, voice artist, and comedian, best known for being the host of American Top 40 and for voicing Shaggy Rogers in the Scooby-Doo franchise.
Along with Don Bustany and Ron Jacobs, Kasem founded the American Top 40 franchise in 1970, hosting it from July 4, 1970 to August 6, 1988; and then from March 28, 1998 to January 3, 2004. Between January 1989 and early 1998, he was the host of Casey's Top 40, Casey's Hot 20, and Casey's Countdown.
Kasem was heard on Premiere Radio Networks' weekly syndicated radio programs, based on the American Top 40 franchise: Casey Kasem's American Top 40: The '70s and Casey Kasem's American Top 40: The '80s are replays of American Top 40 shows from the respective decades. He also hosted American Top 20 and American Top 10.
On Saturday Night Live, Kasem has been impersonated by Dana Carvey 7 times from October 18, 1986 to April 20, 1991. Kasem himself also made a cameo on November 13, 1993 during the "Duets" sketch. Although his wife Jean Kasem has never been on Saturday Night Live, she has been impersonated by Jan Hooks on April 18, 1987 during the "Pagan Easter Special" cold opening sketch.
On June 15, 2014, Kasem died of Lewy body dementia at St. Anthony's Hospital in Gig Harbor, Washington.
Personal life[edit | edit source]
Kasem was Jean Kasem's husband and had 3 children: Mike, Julie, and Kerri Kasem. She is also known as her role as Loretta Tortelli in Cheers and The Tortellis. She also had a brief appearance in Ghostbusters as one of Louis Tulley's party guests (portrayed by Rick Moranis). Jean has been working as a voice actress for cartoon shows and also made guest appearances in several films and television series. The only television special she was in 1985 was Star Fairies, starring Drew Barrymore.
Retirement[edit | edit source]
On July 4, 2009, Kasem retired from American Top 20 and American Top 10 and both shows ended on that day. In addition to his radio shows, he has provided the voice of many commercials, has done many voices for Sesame Street, was the voice of NBC, helps out with the annual Jerry Lewis telethon, and provided the cartoon voices of Robin in Super Friends, Mark on Battle of the Planets, and a number of characters for the Transformers cartoon series of the 1980s. In 2008, Kasem was the voice of Out of Sight Retro Night, which airs on WGN America, but he was replaced by arch-rival Rick Dees.
After 40 years, Kasem retired from his role of voicing Shaggy in 2009, instead voicing Shaggy's father in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. Kasem's daughter Kerri has followed in her father's footsteps by hosting Sixx Sense and The Sideshow Countdown for Clear Channel, among other shows.
From early 2012 to mid 2014, he broadcasted American Top 40 shows from the 1970s on Smooth Radio in the United Kingdom. His signature sign-off was "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."
Illness and death[edit | edit source]
In October 2013, Kerri Kasem said her father was suffering from Parkinson's disease, which a doctor had diagnosed in 2007; a few months later, she said he was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, which is often difficult to differentiate from Parkinson's. Due to his condition, he was no longer able to speak during his final months.
As his health worsened in 2013, Jean Kasem prevented any contact with her husband, particularly from his children by his first marriage. On October 1, Kerri, Mike, and Julie protested in front of the Kasem home, having not been allowed contact with their father for 3 months; some of Kasem's long-time friends and colleagues, along with his brother Mouner, also joined the demonstration. The eldest Kasem children sought conservatorship over their father's care, with Julie and her husband Jamil Aboulhosn filing the papers; the court denied their petition in November.
On May 7, 2014, Kasem was removed from a Santa Monica, California nursing home by his wife early. On May 12, Kerri Kasem was granted temporary conservatorship over her father, despite her stepmother's objection. The court also ordered an investigation into Kasem's whereabouts after his wife's attorney told the court that he 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 at a hospital in Washington state, receiving antibiotics for bedsores and treatment for high blood pressure. It was revealed that he had been bedridden for some time. A judge ordered separate visitation times due to antagonism between Jean Kasem and his children from his first wife. 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 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 wouldn't 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 age 82. He was survived by his wife, four children, and four grandchildren. Kasem's body was handed over to widow Jean, who would be making funeral arrangements. Reportedly, Kasem wanted to be buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.
On July 19, it was reported that a judge had granted Kerri a temporary restraining order to prevent his wife from cremating Kasem's body to allow an autopsy to be performed, but when she went to give a copy of the restraining order to the funeral home, she was informed that the body had been moved from the funeral home by 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 informed a Norwegian funeral service of her plans to immigrate there in 2014. Norwegian government officials stated they will consider the demand by his children to disallow burial there. Kasem's death certificate states that interment in Jerusalem was possible.