"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
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.
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
told the New York Times in 1990. There was an immediate
outpouring on Twitter from both fans and celebrities. "We've
lost a music industry icon. Chngd the industry w/AT40 Cntdwn.
RIP Casey Kasem," said singer and actress Marie Osmond.
Motley Crue base player Nikki Sixx said, "RIP Casey Kasem who
inspired all of us in radio & turned millions of people onto
music. Sending love to Kerri Kasem, family and friends."
Television personality Carson Daly passed along his condolences
"Long before MTV and the internet, Casey Kasem made sure you
were hearing the best music out there. Peace be to his family
and RIP," he tweeted.
[to top of second column]
Ryan Seacrest, who now hosts American Top 40, said it was a sad day
for the broadcasting community and for radio listeners around the
world. "He’ll be greatly missed by all of us,” Seacrest said in a
statement on his website. 'GUY NEXT DOOR' 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 told the
Times. "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, Where Are You!" 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
Lebanese Druze grocer. He gained broadcast experience covering
sports for his high school's radio club. The diminutive Kasem - 5
feet, 6 1/2 inches tall (1.68 meters) - was drafted to serve in the
U.S. military in 1952 and was sent to the Korean War, working as a
disc jockey on U.S. armed forces radio. In 1970, along with
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" program. 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.
(Additional reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in New York and Brendan
O'Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Robin
Pomeroy, Stephen Powell and Chris Reese)
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