Additional reporting by Katie Calautti
It’s time to bid farewell to an icon: Casey Kasem has died.
The radio host, best known for counting down the hits for listeners across the USA via his show “American Top 40,” passed away today at the age of 82. Kasem’s daughter Kerri announced his death via her Facebook page this morning. Kasem was suffering from Lewy body disease, a progressive form of dementia, and had been bedridden because of it.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1932, Kasem began his career at an early age, taking to the radio airwaves while still in high school. He continued his broadcasting pursuits when he was drafted for the Korean War; he was both a DJ and announcer for Armed Forces Radio Korean Network.
After serving in Korea, he worked at radio stations across the country, and in 1963, he landed at Los Angeles’ KRLA. It was there that he began his pursuit of acting as well. The following year, Kasem began hosting the music TV program “Shebang,” which was produced by Dick Clark. Soon after he became the voice of Robin for “The Batman/Superman Hour” for a year, and also voiced Shaggy, Scooby-Doo’s affable sidekick on the classic cartoon “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” until 1984.
His most famous role would come in 1970, when he began hosting the nationally syndicated radio program, “American Top 40.” The show became a must-listen for pop lovers who would tune in to hear Kasem counting down the nation’s hits. It was where he coined his signature sign-off phrase, “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.” The radio show was wildly popular, and a television show called “America’s Top 10″ followed, which Kasem hosted from 1980 to 1989. Kasem became a tastemaker of sorts on both shows, featuring songs that he thought should’ve been hits alongside the countdown. Kasem hosted “American Top 40″ until 1988, before going on to launch “Casey’s Top 40,” which ended its run in 1998. He also hosted the adult contemporary-oriented countdown radio shows “American Top 20″ and “American Top 10″ until he retired in 2009.
The radio legend garnered many accolades for his achievements, including receiving a star on Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame in 1981, and in 1992 he became the youngest inductee in the Radio Hall Of Fame. Billboard honored Kasem with their first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.
In recent years, Kasem’s health had been ailing. Last month, members of Kasem’s family filed a missing person’s report, though he was found a day later in Washington, where he and his wife of 34 years, Jean Kasem, said they were vacationing, according to CNN. Recently, Jean Kasem, and his daughter from a previous marriage, Kerri Kasem (who was also appointed her father’s temporary conservator), have been reportedly feuding over visitation rights and his health care. On Friday (June 6), the family was back in court, according to CNN.
Kasem is survived by wife Jean and their daughter, Liberty Kasem, and his children Mike, Julie and Kerri Kasem, from his former wife, Linda Myers.