Casey Kasem

 

At age 82, Casey Kasem’s countdown is over. The radio icon whose Top 40 countdown permeated radio airwaves for four decades has died. Kasem passed away Sunday after a Los Angeles judge gave his children the okay to withdraw the medication, food and fluids necessary to keep him alive in a recent court ruling. The decision also ended a bitter family feud over his care. Kasem had been suffering from Lewy body dementia, a Parkinson’s-like condition that left the man with one of radio’s most recognizable voices unable to speak.

The Detroit-born son of Lebanese immigrants began his radio career in the mid-1950s in Flint, Michigan before he was drafted to the U.S. Army and deployed to Korea. While serving overseas, Kasem continued to hone his talents as an announcer on the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network. Upon his return to the States Kasem worked as a DJ at several radio stations across the country before launching the weekly show that would make him a household name for decades to come. “American Top 40″ began on July 4th, 1970. The show featured Kasem counting down hits each week before signing with his signature tagline, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”

Kasem would host “American Top 40″ for 34 years before handing it off to Ryan Seacrest in 2004. He also hosted “American Top 20″ and “American Top 10″ before signing off into retirement in 2009. In addition to his radio work, Kasem voiced the character Shaggy in the “Scooby-Doo” cartoon series.

He also provided the voice for Robin in “Super Friends” and for a number of characters in the “Transformers” animated series of the 1980s. Along the way, Kasem also dabbled in a little on-screen acting with small roles in films such as the 1960s biker movies “The Glory Stompers,” “Wild Wheels” and “The Cycle Savages.” Some of his TV acting credits include guest roles on “Hawaii Five-O,” “Quincy, M.E.” and “Charlie’s Angels.”

Politically active for years, Kasem narrated a campaign for George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign and frequently supported Lebanese-American and Arab-American causes. Kasem received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1981. He was also inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1985 and the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1992.

Kasem’s first marriage to Linda Myers resulted in three children – Mike, Julie and Kerri Kasem. He also had a daughter, Liberty Jean, with his second wife actress Jean Kasem. Casey Kasem was 82.

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June 16, 2014 at 5:35 am | News | No comment