Casey Kasem: Life and Times

Radio icon Casey Kasem had a decades-long career spanning "Top 40" and "Scooby Doo." Now, the ailing 82-year-old's children and second wife are battling in court over his care. Click through to see photos from the longtime radio host's legendary career.

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Casey Kasem
Radio icon Casey Kasem died Sunday, June 15, at the age of 82.
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Kemal Amin Kasem first became interested in broadcasting when he announced a sports report over the public address system at Northwestern High School. He was an active and popular student in high school being vice president of his class and on the baseball team where he got the nickname "Casey". After graduating high school, worked as a production assistant at WDTR radio.
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While attending college, Kasem worked a variety of radio jobs, including actor on dramatic shows "The Long Ranger" and "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon." At Wayne State University, he studied speech and drama. In 1952 during his college years, Kasem was drafted and sent to Korea. There he assembled writers, actors, engineers and others into a team that produced drama and other programs for the troops on the Armed Forces Network.
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After Korea, Kasem worked as an actor, hosted a children's television program and as a radio announcer on WJLB and WJBK Detroit. He didn't stay long and bounced form New York to Cleveland to Buffalo for various acting and radio jobs. In 1961 he found work at an Oakland, California radio station and did a program that he once described as a "comedic, fast-paced, rock and roll show," filled with comic tapes and lead-ins. After a year, the station manager cancelled the program and asked Kasem to focus on musical artists.
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Circa 1965, Kasem began hosting "Shebang," a weekday dance show in Los Angeles for television station KTLA. Later, inspired by a copy of the magazine "Who's Who of Pop Music" he found in the trash can, Kasem got the idea to fill his new show with biographical material. His idea was to give a teaser in the form of an unanswered question before the biography to build suspense to listeners.
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Besides a few poorly rated movies like "Free Grass" and "The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant" with Bruce Dern in the 60s and 70s, Kasem landed roles on TV shows in the 70s and 80s including "Hawaii Five-O," "Matt Houston," "Charlie's Angels," "Quincy M.E.," and "Fantasy Island."
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In 1968, a friend Mike Curb (who later became Lieutenant Governor of California) suggested that Kasem would be successful at voice-over work. Kasem quit his radio station job and started doing voice-overs for Dairy Queen, Prestone Anti-Freeze, Kraft and more. By the late 1960s, Kasem started doing voices for cartoons including Robin on "Batman," Shaggy on "Scooby Doo" and various characters on "Skyhawk," "Hot Wheels" and "Cattanooga Cats."
In the late 1960s, Kasem and long-time associate Don Bustany developed "American Top 40" – a show that would feature Billboard magazine's top 40 song picks each week. Kasem and Bustany started the broadcasting company Watermark which produced the show. First heard on July 4, 1970 on seven radio stations and soon gained momentum, eventually drawing more than 100 million listeners. Watermark grew into the largest producer and supplier of national radio programs in the country and in 1982 ABC television bought into the company and called it ABC Watermark.
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Michael Jackson and Casey Kasem before Michael Jackson is Honored With Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, CA, United States on November 20, 1984.
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Disc jockey Casey Kasem, Sammy Davis. Jr., jazz musician Herbie Hancock during the 22nd NAACP Image Awards held at The Wiltern Theatre on December 9, 1989.
Radio Personality Casey Kasem, wife Jean Kasem and daughter Liberty Kasem attend Casey Kasem's Christmas Parade on December 21, 1991 at Casey Kasem's home in Bel Air, California.
Kasem, wife Jean, daughter Kerri Kasem, son Michael Kasem and daughter Julie Kasem attend Lebanon-Syrian American Society of Greater Los Angeles Man of the Year Awards on January 25, 1985 in Beverly Hills, California.
Kasem and wife Jean attend 21st Annual International Broadcasting Awards on March 3, 1981 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California.
Kasem and wife Jean attend the Sixth Annual American Comedy Awards on March 28, 1992 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.
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Kasem (c) and his children Mike and Kerri arrive at the Golden Dads Awards ceremony at the Peterson Automotive Museum on June 15, 2005 in Los Angeles, California.
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