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Casey Kasem

Presenter and the voice of Shaggy from Scooby Doo

Presenter and the voice of Shaggy from Scooby Doo

Born: April 27, 1932; Died: June 15, 2014

Casey Kasem, who has died aged 82, was a US 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.

"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 programme, 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.

At its peak, Kasem's American Top 40 show was heard on more than 1,000 stations in about 50 countries. "I accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. That is the timeless thing," Kasem said.

Kasem was famed for his unmistakable tenor voice - also heard on thousands of commercials and television announcements. "It's a natural quality of huskiness in the midrange of my voice that I call 'garbage'," he said. "It's not a clear-toned announcer's voice. It's more like the voice of the guy next door."

For four decades starting in 1969, he provided the voice of Shaggy - the perpetually hungry, easily frightened, mystery-solving human pal of a Great Dane in the TV cartoon series Scooby- Doo and its various other incarnations.

"Zoinks! C'mon, Scoob!" Kasem's Shaggy would exclaim as a mummy, zombie, snow beast or swamp monster would chase him, Scooby and fellow youthful sleuths Fred, Velma and Daphne.

He was born in Detroit as Kemal Amin Kasem on April 27, 1932, the son of a grocer.

He gained broadcast experience covering sports for his high school's radio club.

The diminutive Kasem - he was 5ft 6in - was drafted to serve in the US military in 1952 and was sent to the Korean War, working as a disc jockey on US armed forces radio.

In 1970, along with his childhood friend Don Bustany, Kasem came up with the idea of a radio show counting down the top pop hits of the week based on the earlier successful Your Hit Parade programme. His show debuted on July 4, 1970, as American Top 40.

Kasem had three children with his first wife, Linda Myers, before divorcing in 1979. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson officiated when he married his second wife, actress Jean Kasem, in 1980. They had one child.

His final years were marked by dementia and he had been the focus of a dispute between his three children from his first marriage and his second wife.

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 medication when they chose comfort-oriented, end-of-life care at a Washington state hospital.

He is survived by Jean, his daughters Kerri, Julie and Liberty and son Mike and ex-wife Linda.

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