U.S. radio deejay, 'Shaggy' voice Casey Kasem dead at 82

Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:18pm EDT
 
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By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Casey Kasem, the U.S. radio personality who counted down pop music hits on his popular weekly radio show and also lent his distinctive voice to hippie sleuth Shaggy in the "Scooby Doo" cartoons, died on Sunday. He was 82.

"Early this Father's Day morning, our dad Casey Kasem passed away surrounded by family and friends," his daughter, Kerri Kasem, said in a statement posted online. "Even though we know he is in a better place and no longer suffering, we are heartbroken."

Kasem, whose final years were marked by dementia, had been the focus of a dispute between his three children from his first marriage and his second wife, Jean Kasem. They said she had prevented them from visiting him as he suffered from Lewy body dementia, a malady with symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease.

As his health deteriorated, a Los Angeles judge sided with the adult children and permitted them to withhold food, hydration and his usual medication as they chose comfort-oriented, end-of-life care at a Washington state hospital.

'REACHING FOR THE STARS'

"Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars," Kasem, a Detroit-born Lebanese-American, told millions of listeners at the end of his invariably cheery weekly radio program, which ran from 1970 to 2009.

On his syndicated show, Kasem counted down the 40 most popular songs of the week in order, finishing with the No. 1 song. Before each song, Kasem told an upbeat anecdote about the singer's road to success and read letters from listeners.   Continued...

 
Casey Kasem poses with his Radio Icon Award at the 2003 Radio Music Awards, at the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada, in this October 27, 2003 file photo. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/Files