Who was Casey Kasem?

The late American actor, disc jockey and radio personality Kemal Amin ‘Casey’ Kasem was born in Detroit, Michigan USA, on 27 April 1932, meaning that Taurus was his zodiac sign. He’s perhaps remembered best for having created and hosted the internationally syndicated independent song countdown radio show “American Top 40”, which was launched in 1970 and is still airing to this day; Casey hosted the show from its launch until 1988, and then again from 1998 through 2004.

It was revealed in 2007 that Casey had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, however, only a couple of months later, it was revealed that he’d been misdiagnosed, and that he was actually suffering from Lewy body dementia; Casey died aged 82 on 15 June 2014, from sepsis caused by an ulcerated bedsore.

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Education and early life

Casey was raised alongside his brother Mouner in Detroit by their parents Amin and Helen Kasem, who were Lebanese Druze immigrants, and who owned a local grocery store; Casey was named after the late Turkish field marshal Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, whom his father deeply respected, but Casey and his brother weren’t allowed to speak Arabic at home.

Casey was attending Northwestern High School when he fell in love with radio, after having listened to the show “Make Believe Ballroom”; he found his first job on radio while still attending school, as he was hired to cover sports there. Upon matriculating in 1950, Casey enrolled at Wayne State University and was hired to work at the university’s radio station, on the shows “Challenge of the Yukon” and “The Lone Ranger”.

He dropped out in 1952 to join the US Army; Casey was sent to Korea, where he joined the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network as a DJ and announcer.

He returned from the Army two years later, and worked at several radio stations prior to launching his career on TV, including WJBK, WJLB and WJW.

Roles in TV series

Casey’s debut TV series role was playing TV Announcer in the 1961 episode “On the Spot” of the comedy “The Joey Bishop Show”, and in 1968 and 1969, he voiced Robin in all 17 episodes of the animated action “The Adventures of Batman”, which starred Bud Collyer and Bob Hastings, and follows Batman and Robin as they’re battling crime in Gotham City.

Some of Casey’s most notable performances in the ‘70s were voicing various characters in the 1972 animated family comedy “The Funky Phantom”, the 1973 animated adventure comedy “The New Scooby-Doo Movies”, and the 1978 animated family comedy “Jabberjaw”.

From 1973 through 1985, he voiced Robin, one of the main characters in the animated action adventure “Super Friends”, which also starred Danny Dark and Olan Soule, and was created by Gardner Fox. The series follows a group of DC Comics superheroes as they’re helping people in need together. The remainder of the decade heard Casey voice characters in the comedy “George Burns Comedy Week”, the animated adventure comedy “The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo” and the animated family comedy “Scooby’s Mystery Funhouse”.

He had only a couple of TV series roles in the ‘90s, appearing in an episode of the comedy “Cybill”, the family comedy “Sister, Sister”, and the science fiction comedy “Homeboys in Outer Space”.

From 2002 through 2006, Casey voiced Shaggy in all 42 episodes of the popular animated adventure comedy “What’s New, Scooby-Doo?”, which also starred Frank Welker and Mindy Cohn, and was created by Wendy Perdue. It follows the Mystery, Inc. gang as they’re solving new mysteries, and the series was nominated for only a single award.

Casey’s final three TV series roles were in the 2007 episode “Hansel and Gretel” of the animated family adventure “Super Why!”, 24 episodes of the 2008 animated action adventure “Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!”, and five episodes of the 2013 animated adventure comedy “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated”, all voice roles.

Roles in movies

Casey’s debut film role was playing a supporting character in the 1967 war drama “First to Fight”, and some of his following roles were in the 1967 action “The Glory Stompers”, the 1969 fantasy comedy “2000 Years Later”, and the 1969 action “Wild Wheels”.

In 1971, he portrayed Ken in the science fiction horror “The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant”, which starred Pat Priest and Bruce Dern, and was directed by Anthony M. Lanza; it follows wealthy scientist Dr. Roger Girard who’s attached the head of a dying psycho-killer onto the body of a man with a child’s mind. Some of Casey’s other notable performances in the ‘70s were in the 1973 musical “Soul Hustler”, the 1975 animated family adventure “The Last of the Mohicans” (voice role), and the 1978 musical “Jukebox”.

He voiced a supporting character in the critically acclaimed 1984 action fantasy comedy “Ghostbusters”, which starred Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, and was directed by Ivan Reitman. It follows three parapsychologists as they’re fending off ghost attacks in New York City, and the movie won seven of its 15 award nominations, including two Oscar nominations for Best Music, Original Song and Best Effects, Visual Effects.

Casey could then have been heard voicing characters in the 1986 animated action adventure “The Transformers: The Movie”, the 1988 animated family comedy “Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School”, and the 1990 short animated adventure “The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera”.

He had only a couple of film roles in the ‘90s, and the most popular amongst these was perhaps the 2000 animated adventure comedy “Rugrats in Paris”, which starred Christine Cavanaugh and Elizabeth Daily, and was directed by Paul Demeyer and Stig Bergqvist. It follows the Rugrats as they’re vacationing in Paris, France, and the movie won three of its 10 award nominations.

Some of Casey’s notable performances in the 2000s were in the 2003 animated adventure comedy “Looney Tunes: Back in Action”, the 2004 animated adventure comedy “Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness Monster”, and the 2009 short family drama “Peter Kay’s Animated All Star Band: The Official BBC Children in Need Medley”, all voice roles.

His final film role was voicing Shaggy Rogers in the 2014 animated adventure comedy “Scooby-Doo!” Frankencreepy”.

Other credits

Casey produced the 1967 action movie “The Glory Stompers”, the 1969 action film “The Cycle Savages”, and the musical news show “America’s Top 10”, aired from 1980 through 1993.

He received special thanks for the 2000 documentary movie “A Cow at My Table”, the 2005 horror comedy movie “Knight of the Living Dead” and the 2014 animated show “Jambareeqi Reviews”.

Some of Casey’s final talk-show appearances were in “Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon”, “Hollywood Squares” and “Entertainment Tonight”.

Awards and nominations

Casey was nominated for three awards: a 2001 Ale Kino! – International Young Audience Film Festival Award and a 2001 ALCINE – Festival de Cine de Alcala de Henares Award, both for his performance in “Scooby-Doo’s Spookiest Tales VHS”, plus a 2003 DVD Exclusive Award for Best Animated Character Performance in a DVD Premiere Movie, for “Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire”.

He was honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 27 April 1981.

Love life and relationships

Casey was married twice. His first wife was non-celebrity American Linda Myers, who appeared in only a single movie: the 1980 comedy “Up the Academy”. The two exchanged vows in 1969 and divorced on 20 November 1980; they had three children together: Kerri Kasem, who’s today a popular radio host, Michael C. Kasem who’s an actor and TV presenter, and Julie.

From 21 December 1980 until his death, Casey was married to American actress Jean Kasem; she has 34 acting credits and is probably still known best for playing Tall Woman at Party in the 1984 movie “Ghostbusters”. Casey and Jean had a daughter together, named Liberty Jean Kasem.

There was some controversy surrounding Casey’s wife Jean when his condition worsened in 2013, as she didn’t allow his family and friends to see him, especially not his children from his first marriage; they protested in front of his house and his children sought conservatorship over his care, but their petition was denied by the court. His daughter Kerri was then granted temporary conservatorship on 7 May 2014.

Casey was married to his second wife Jean Kasem at the time of his passing, and they had a daughter together; he also had three children with his first wife Linda Myers.

Interesting facts and hobbies

Casey was a huge lover of animals, supported various animal rights organizations, and was vegan; he was against factory farming, and also supported various environmental causes.

He was into politics and supported Arab-American and Lebanese-American causes; he campaigned against the Gulf War, and supported Palestinian independence. He supported George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election, Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988, and Ralph Nader in 2000.

In 1985, Casey was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and seven years later into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

Height, eyes and wealth

Casey would’ve been 91 today. He had black hair and brown eyes, was 5ft 6ins (1.68m) tall and weighed around 150lbs (67kgs).

Casey’s net worth was estimated at over $80 million at the time of his passing.

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