Casey Kasem (1932-2014) was a well-known American radio personality and voice actor, known for his long-standing role as the host of American Top 40, a popular radio countdown show that featured the week's top music hits. As a voice actor, he was perhaps best known as the original voice of Shaggy Rogers on the Scooby-Doo franchise. He was born in Detroit, Michigan, as Kemal Amin Kasem and was of Lebanese heritage. Additionally, many people may not know about Casey Kasem's political activism, which somehow managed to be both high-profile and almost low-key at the same time. Let's look at some interesting aspects of his life!
The life and career of Casey Kasem
Casey Kasem's most famous and enduring contribution to the world of entertainment was as the host of American Top 40, a weekly radio show that counted down the top music hits in the United States. American Top 40 premiered in 1970 and quickly became a significant part of American pop culture. Kasem hosted the show for most of its run until 1988 and then returned to host it from 1998 until his retirement in 2004. Kasem was known for his distinctive and friendly voice, which became synonymous with the American Top 40 program. He was famous for his warm and personable style of broadcasting, making him a beloved figure to listeners.
As previously mentioned, in addition to his radio career, Casey Kasem was also a prolific voice actor. He provided the voice for several well-known animated characters, including Shaggy Rogers in the Scooby-Doo franchise and Robin in Super Friends. His work in animation endeared him to a new generation of fans. In fact, some people primarily know Casey Kasem for portraying this character, and that's okay! Casey left a lasting legacy in the world of radio and voice acting, and his contributions to the entertainment industry are still remembered and celebrated by many.
The humanitarianism and activism of Casey Kasem
Casey Kasem was also known for his philanthropic efforts and advocacy work. He was a passionate advocate for various causes, including animal rights and preventing abuse. A Los Angeles Times biography on Kasem notes that, in addition to being concerned about issues like animal rights, he was an activist regarding a large number of issues.
"For the past 30 years," the articles notes, "Kasem was also politically active but kept that 'flip side' of his life, as he called it, carefully separate from his radio persona. He spoke out frequently for Palestinian rights and Arab American causes and politicians. He protested U.S. military involvement in the Middle East, voiced concern about anti-Arab stereotyping and arranged conflict resolution workshops for Arab and Jewish Americans in Los Angeles and his native Detroit...He also advocated on behalf of the homeless and for affordable housing, once sleeping overnight on a downtown L.A. sidewalk to draw attention to the plight of street people."
He also hosted fundraisers for Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988
Casey Kasem's personal life was marked by some controversy, particularly in his later years when there were disputes and legal battles among his family members over his care and assets. These disputes received significant media attention.
His daughter, Kerri Kasem, founded the "Kasem Cares Foundation to raise awareness about elder abuse, inspired by her personal experiences in dealing with a family dispute over her ailing father's care. Interestingly, at least one news story thematically tied Kasem's case to the Britney Spears conservatorship drama.
Kasem received numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including several Billboard Magazine awards and being inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1992. His mainstream career ran from around 1954 to 2013, but he got an interesting early start; In 1952, Kasem was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Korea where he worked as a DJ/announcer on the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network. Of course, he went on to a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
Here is Casey Kasem with his own minor hit, a spoken-word recording of his recitation of a Beatles fan letter, set to music: