Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Casey Kasem: 1932-2014

I held off doing a blog about the death of Casey Kasem due to the fact that there are literally hundreds of thousands and probably millions of blogs out there (both professional and amateur) detailing his life and career and the gossipy final months of his life. I also am not one to follow the gossip and rumor mills of Hollywood but in order to find out some facts about his career I had to search a lot of the Hollywood blog sites and news sites. I knew of his children and of his wife...years earlier I learned 3 of his 4 kids are from a previous marriage. As I've often commented, I am rarely interested in the personal lives of a celebrity and so I rarely read any of the gossip magazines and celebrity story publications. I first heard of Casey Kasem in the 1980's...I had heard his voice for years on Scooby Doo cartoons...but at that point in time I had no idea the names of the people that voiced cartoon characters. I heard a broadcast of one of his American Top-40 radio programs that my sister had been listening to. She told me to come in her room and hear 'this guy' and that he sounded like Shaggy (from Scooby Doo). That is how I learned the name of the voice of Shaggy...by hearing Casey on the radio for the first time. 

I later seen Casey on the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon. However, aside from Shaggy, the biggest impact Casey had on my youth came throughout the 1990's. He hosted the annual Nick-at-Nite Rerun Countdown each New Year's Eve for many years. Later, as the Super Friends cartoons started to air in reruns again, I learned that Casey voiced Robin...and in many episodes Casey voiced the Justice League computer. I had assumed that Casey had voiced Robin only once in the Scooby Doo meets Batman special...but little did I know that Casey's involvement in voicing Robin went back further...to the late 1960's! It didn't take me long to figure out that Casey was just as busy voicing cartoon characters as he was on the radio. Years later I discovered that he had once hosted a long running syndicated TV series. It never aired in my area...otherwise I may have found it...but it was called American Top-10. I posted a clip of him hosting the series in my previous blog. It ran for 12 years (1980-1992). In addition to that he also voiced promotional advertisements for NBC-TV's line-up of programming. Ernie Anderson and Danny Dark (the latter the voice of Superman in the Super Friends cartoons) did voice over promo's during the same era.

So, yes, Casey Kasem had his greatest impact on me by way of cartoons. I've long since learned about his vast career in radio and TV and each Saturday and Sunday morning I listen to the classic AT40 countdowns. On Saturday mornings it's AT40 Flashback: The '80s and on Sunday mornings it's AT40 Flashback: The '70s. Since his death on June 15th I don't know if those programs will continue for much longer or if they'll continue to air as a lasting memorial to his radio legacy. I hope they continue to air. Each program aired this past weekend (June 21 and June 22) and if they air this coming weekend I'll make the assumption that the programs are here to stay...for the time being.

Casey Kasem: 1932-2014

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