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Casey Kasem

Radio Personality

Born: 27 April 1932
Died: 15 June 2014
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan
Best known as:

The host of the radio show American Top 40

Name at birth: Kemal Amin Kasem

Casey Kasem was the creator and host of American Top 40, a long-running radio show that showcased the week’s 40 best-selling pop music singles. He was also for many years the voice of Shaggy, the goofball teenage ghost-hunter in the animated TV series Scooby-Doo. Casey Kasem was born Kemal Kasem in 1932 to a family of Lebanese immigrants in Detroit. He did radio work on the Armed Services Network after he was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War, and then graduated from Wayne State University in 1957 with a degree in speech education. He worked as a disc jockey in several cities before landing at station KRLA in Los Angeles from 1963-69. In 1970 he developed American Top 40, a weekly three-hour radio show that was soon syndicated across America. Kasem would count down the week’s top hits, offer upbeat stories about the artists and “long-distance dedications” from fans, and end each show with his signature signoff, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” The show was wildly popular: he hosted it from 1970-1988 and a new version of it from 1998 until 2004, when he again stepped down and was succeeded by Ryan Seacrest. Kasem was also known as the voice of Shaggy, the owner of the massive and dopey dog Scooby-Doo in a long series of animated TV shows and movies; he began doing the voice in 1969 and finally retired from it in 2009. In his last few years Kasem developed Lewy body dementia, an illness  similar to Parkinson’s disease, and at the very end of his life Kasem was the subject of a family squabble that went public: his three children from his first marriage filed a legal petition in 2013, saying that his second wife, Jean Kasem, was isolating him from family and was not giving him appropriate care. In 2014 a judge gave his children control over his care, and he died shortly thereafter.
 
Extra credit:
Casey Kasem was married twice: to Linda Myers from 1972 to 1979, and to the actress Jean Thompson from 1980 until his death. With Linda Myers he had three children: Julie, Michael and Kerri... Casey Kasem was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1981... The #1 song on Kasem’s very first American Top 40 show, on 4 July 1970, was “Mama Told Me Not To Come” by Three Dog Night... Some sources say Casey Kasem graduated from Wayne State in 1956, but the university identifies him as “Casey Kasem ’57” in a 2010 alumni newsletter.
 

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