Happy Birthday to Casey Kasem! Kasem, who sadly passed away last summer, was born Kemal Amen Kasem in Detroit on April 27 in 1932. He was born to Lebanese Druze parents who had immigrated to Michigan. He grew up interested in radio shows, which is where he ended up making a very successful career. Although he hosted a variety of radio shows throughout his career, he is most famous for pioneering the “top 40” model. Kasem hosted a weekly top 40 countdown show (“America’s Top 40” and “Casey’s Top 40”) from 1970 until he retired in 2004.
Kasem is featured in our museum in a few places. In our Making an Impact exhibition, a plaque commemorates his inclusion in the Hollywood Walk of Fame and he also narrates a video of other famous Arab Americans. We also have a large “America’s Top 40” sign near our Lower Level Gallery.
Of course, radio isn’t the only thing Kasem is famous for. As generations of American kids know, he also provided the voice of Shaggy in the Scooby-Doo franchise. The AANM recently received a great new item relating to this aspect of his career: a talking Shaggy doll! The doll says a variety of classic Shaggy phrases, voiced by Kasem, when you squeeze his hand. It is also signed by Kasem on his stomach. The doll isn’t currently on display, but you can see a photograph of it, with the signature, here:
Zoinks! What a fun donation! What are some of your favorite memories of Casey Kasem?