LOS ANGELES (CBSNewYork/AP) — Radio icon Casey Kasem died Sunday morning. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the man behind the voice heard on “American Top 40” for more than 30 years.
10. Beginning in 1969, Kasem voiced the character Shaggy for the animated series “Scooby-Doo: Where Are You!” He continued to voice the long-haired hippie in TV, film and video games until 2009. He also gave voice to characters in animated shorts on “Sesame Street” and in the 1986 “Transformers” movie, along with voicing Robin on “Super Friends.”
9. Kasem’s work on radio commercials was highly lucrative — and not nearly as easy as it might have seemed for someone so smooth on the air. “The greatest compliment that anyone can pay me is that after I say something, they remember it,” he once said. “I’ll go over a piece of copy until I’ve gotten the essence of what the writer had in mind, every nuance.”
8. In addition to his radio show and voice work, Kasem was the co-host of a teen dance show on Los Angeles television during the 1960s called “Shebang.” He also had a minor hit single during that time, “Letter From Elaina,” and appeared in a few low-budget movies and some network TV series, including “Hawaii Five-O” and “Ironside.”
7. While Kasem seldom appeared onscreen, his second wife, Jean Kasem, was a semi-regular in the sitcom “Cheers” as Loretta Tortelli and a regular in a short-lived spinoff, “The Tortellis.”
6. Kasem gained attention in the 1990s when he blew up because of a staff error on his “American Top 40” show and his taped remarks, swearing and all, made their way into cyberspace. He told The New York Times in 2004 that he didn’t know it had been made public until years later.
5. Kasem was a vegetarian and an activist against factory farming.
4. An Arab-American activist, Kasem called for a fairer balance between heroes and villains in the 1994 Disney Aladdin sequel, “The Return of Jafar.” But he added, “We’re not out there just to be so picky that we become a pain in the neck. We’re there to do what we can to call attention to the sensitivity of not only Arab-Americans, but to any ethnic group.”
3. As host of “American Top 40,” Kasem introduced a romantic segment called Long Distance Dedications. Listeners would send in their dedications, and Kasem would pick a few heartfelt messages to read each week on the air, playing the love song that went with it. The first Long Distance Dedication Kasem played was Neil Diamond’s “Desiree” on Aug. 26, 1978.
2. When “American Top 40” premiered on July 4, 1970, the top five songs were: Three Dog Night’s “Mama Told Me (Not to Come),” The Jackson Five’s “The Love You Save,” The Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today),” “Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image and Freda Payne’s “Band of Gold.” When Kasem retired from “AT40” at the end of 2003, the top five tracks were: “Hey Ya” by Outkast, “Here Without You” by 3 Doors Down, “Suga Suga” by Baby Bash, “Perfect” by Simple Plan and Nickelback’s “Someday.”
1. “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.” — The radio signoff Kasem used throughout his five-decade career.
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