Sunday, June 15, 2014

Farewell, Casey

The adventures of “those meddling kids and that dog” are out of the time-frame of this blog, but an exception must be made to mark the sad demise of Casey Kasem.

Kasem was one of a number of Los Angeles disc jockeys hired by the Hanna-Barbera studio. Elliot Field was the first (the original voice of Blabber Mouse); Gary Owens, Jerry Dexter and Kasem followed. Despite his work in cartoons and films (as you can see to the right), he didn’t really achieve his huge fame until “American Top 40” was syndicated in seemingly every city in North America and broadcast on Armed Forces Radio around the world.

Endless numbers of web and news sites are talking about his passing and there are, no doubt, plenty of fan-art tributes out there. There’s little for me to add, so I’ll just pass on these few notes.

Kasem’s first bit of national fame, outside of the broadcasting trade press, may have come in this little story from United Press International, dated September 16, 1959
:

DJ CLAIMS LONGEST ‘ON THE AIR’ KISS
CLEVELAND, Ohio (UPI) — Disc jockey Casey Kasem yesterday claimed a record for the longest “on the air” kiss in radio history.
Kasem, 26, of station WJW, said he kissed recording star Diana Trask for 85 seconds during his program last night.

By 1961, Kasem was working 9 p.m. to midnight on KEWB in Oakland (Gary Owens was there at the time). He arrived at KRLA in Los Angeles in July 1963. The Pasadena Star-News of October 9, 1963 reveals he hosted a teen dance party at Duarte Fiesta Day with the Righteous Brothers and the Surf Bunnies headlining; emcee jobs like that weren’t uncommon at one time for rock jocks.

Anyone reading this page is probably familiar with at least the main cartoon roles that Kasem played, so there’s no need for me to go into them. Suffice to say he’ll be remembered for one major role at Hanna-Barbera. The only reason “Scooby Doo” has remained popular for so long is the comic byplay between Don Messick as the less-than-heroic-hero and Kasem as the less-than-heroic human sidekick.

He talked to the New York Times’ Neil Strauss in 2004 about his approach to his radio audiences when he moved on to the next stop. “I just didn’t want to say goodbye,” he revealed. “Every station I was at, I never said goodbye—when I was in Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Oakland, and L.A. I don’t know why.”

Kasem never really said “goodbye” to his fans when he departed this world for his next stop. But as long as his cartoons are on the air, and as long as there are memories of them, it really isn’t “goodbye,” is it? A part of him will still be here.

10 comments:

  1. Branching out their voice talents in the late 1960s, with Kasem, fellow DJ Gary Owens, Paul Winchell and Paul Lynde did give Hanna-Barbera a little bit of a boost, even as the stories became monotonous and the animation and timing took on a cookie-cutter sameness. Sad to see Casey die the way he did with an ugly custody fight.

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  2. Prior to SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU, Casey Kasem was also the voice of Robin the Boy Wonder in Filmation’s animated BATMAN (1968) and subsequent animated series. Both Kasem’s Robin and Shaggy appeared together in THE NEW SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES.

    A marvelous reference to Casey Kasem’s voicing of both Robin and Shaggy is found in the comic book SCOOBY DOO TEAM-UP # 4, released about a month ago! All are welcome to read about it in this blog post of mine.

    R.I.P. Casey Kasem!

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    1. Kasem's Alexander Cabot III ("Josie and the Pussycats") appeared on TNSDM as well.

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  3. R.I.P. Casey Kasem. I will always remember you.

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  4. IN addition to ". But as long as his cartoons are on the air, and as long as there are memories of them, it really isn’t “goodbye,” is it?" same thing for the Top40 show archives....SC

    RIP

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  5. Speaking of live-action, I recall he had a bit part in "Doomsday Machine", which was a pretty bad sci-fi flick about the spaceship of astronauts who were shot out into space while the earth got destroyed by typical Cold War activities. Casey had a role of being some announcer in mission control.

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  6. I remember when " AT-40 " first hit the airwaves and a friend of mine commented that Casey was the voice of Shaggy. The very next weekend I tuned in on our local radio affiliate. I listened to his voice carefully and said " Yep..he sure is.." I actually remember years later, I was working a weekend shift and running AT-40..on vinyl of course. Casey was doing his voice over for the next song. After he voiced some funny info on the next song, he paused.... and said " Zoinks " in Shaggy's voice. I nearly fell off the stool. You know how hindsight is always 20/20. I should have asked for my Program Director's permission to keep the disc. Oh well. RIP Casey. You taught us to " Reach for the stars ".

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  7. Errol, you'll remember they came on really cheap vinyl (same with Bob Kingsley's show) because the syndicator wouldn't be out a ton of money if the discs weren't returned (and they were supposed to be after each show).
    I'm surprised, much like production libraries, some of the AT40 discs haven't surfaced in thrift stores or similar places.

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    1. Yep, I sure do, Yowp. Ran Bob Kingsley also. As a matter of fact, you are correct.The discs were expected to be mailed back after airplay. My PD at the time was a real " stick to the rules " type guy, I think he got a bonus everytime he said;" NO!"-Ha! . I probably felt he would have nixed my request for the Casey disc. I should have just recorded the segment. I wouldn't be suprised if they did show up at thrift stores. Memories...memories..memories.

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  8. Casey Kasem:
    May his memory be eternal!

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