Beloved radio DJ and voice actor Casey Kasem passed away earlier today, at the age of 82, from a condition known as Lewy body disease, a common form of progressive dementia. The passing was confirmed by Casey Kasem's daughter Kerri Kasem, with the following statement on her Facebook page.
"Early this Father's Day morning, our dad Casey Kasem passed away surrounded by family and friends. Even though we know he is in a better place and no longer suffering, we are heartbroken. Thank you for all your love, support and prayers. The world will miss Casey Kasem, an incredible talent and humanitarian; we will miss our Dad. With love, Kerri, Mike and Julie."
Kerri Kasem was involved in a recent legal battle over visitation rights to her father, claiming that Casey Kasem's second wife, Jean Kasem and her stepchildren were preventing Kerri from visiting Casey Kasem. Kerri was ultimately granted visitation, and the rights to make medical decisions on his behalf.
Born Kemal Amin Kasem, Casey Kasem grew up in Detroit, raised by his parents who were Lebanese Druze immigrants. After graduating from Wayne State University, Casey Kasem got his start in radio during the Korean War working for Armed Forces Radio. After he left the service and returned the U.S., he worked for numerous radio stations as a disc jockey before hosting the hit syndicated radio program American Top 40 in 1970. He hosted the program until 1988, counting down the top songs each week while offering viewers tidbits of trivia about the artists mixed in with colorful anecdotes. He closed every show with the catch phrase "Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars." At the show's peak, it was carried on over 1,000 radio stations across the country.
He also provided the voice for Shaggy on the hit animated TV series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, continuing to voice Shaggy for a number of different production all the way up until 2009. He also voiced Robin, Dick Greyson and a number of other characters on The Batman/Superman Hour, Peter Cottontail in Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Robin on The World's Greatest SuperFriends and Cliffjumper in The Transformers: The Movie. He also had a cameo as himself in Ghostbusters, and appeared in a number of other TV shows such as Emergency!, Hawaii Five-O, Ironside and Charlie's Angels.
"For many, the multitalented Casey Kasem was the voice of popular music, and his long-running countdown program brought exposure for many of his fellow union members. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends, and may we all remember him best by 'reaching for the stars.'"