Casey Kasem, Legendary Broadcaster And Voice Of Shaggy, Robin And More, R.I.P.
Radio host Casey Kasem, known to generations as the voice of pop music countdown shows for close to four decades, passed away early Sunday morning at a hospital outside Seattle, according to a Facebook post by his daughter Kerri.
Kasem provided voices for a number of well-loved cartoon characters. His most celebrated role was Shaggy in various Scooby-Doo cartoons, starting with Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in 1969. He was also the voice of Robin in Hanna-Barbera’s cartoons based on DC superheroes, and the voice of Mark in Battle of the Planets, the U.S. adaptation of the anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman.
Kasem was born Kemal Amin Kasem in Detroit, Michigan on April 27, 1932, the son of Lebanese immigrants. His DJ career began in Flint, Michigan in the early 1950s, followed by a stint as an announcer for Armed Forces Radio in Korea after he was drafted into the U.S. Army.
Kasem moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s, where his voice acting career took off with The Batman/Superman Hour in 1968 and Scooby-Doo Where Are You! in 1969, and he launched the nationally syndicated American Top 40 countdown show in 1970. Kasem’s slick, passionate presentation style and distinctive vocal performances made him an important figure in the lives of millions of American children for decades.
Kasem was also an outspoken advocate for animal rights, Arab-American acceptance, and aid for the homeless, and he was an early supporter of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential bid. A practicing vegan, Kasem quit as the voice of Shaggy when asked to do a Burger King commercial, and only returned to the role years later on the condition that the character become vegetarian.
Kasem retired from broadcasting and voice acting in 2009. Last year his family revealed that he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and a form of dementia, and earlier this year he was the subject of a custody dispute between his second wife Jean and his children, which saw his location briefly unaccounted for.
Kasem passed away Sunday morning surrounded by family and friends. His animation work will surely continue to inspire and delight future generations. Kasem himself once told the New York Times; “They are going to be playing Shaggy and Scooby-Doo for eons and eons. And they’re going to forget Casey Kasem.”
The latter claim, of course, is unlikely to be true.