RIP Casey Kasem: We Thank You for Your Dedication to Shagginess and the Pursuit of Terrifying Monsters
On June 15th one of the most recognizable voices in radio and television died, succumbing to lingering complications of Lewy Body Dementia. At 82 years of age the legendary Casey Kasem passed on to the next level of existence.
For America it was a sad day. Despite the fact that hordes of the younger generations couldn’t speak on the man’s accomplishments, they know his voice when they hear it. And we know it too. The longtime, hardcore, deeply rooted genre fans know Kasem for his prolific run as the eventual pop-culture standout character Shaggy Rogers, of the timeless “Scooby-Doo” series.
Shaggy was one of (if not the) first animated stoners to hit commercial television. Hanna-Barbera Productions – to my knowledge, which is creepily thorough in all honesty – never stepped out of the shadows to make it known that Shaggy was a major weed-head (totally expected and for quite obvious reasons), but the signs were always there: a little “slow,” a fondness for the back of the van, “the” laugh, clumsiness and never-ending munchies. Shaggy was definitely a stoner, and that actually helped to endear him to audiences of all ages in the late 1960s and onward.
Not much has changed with the passing of time. Millions of Americans are still smoking the green stuff, and I’m sure the number of peace not war types are still standing (or... sitting) in admirable mass. And that’s great. It’s great because tranquility sounds a lot more appealing than chaos, and it’s great because it’s exactly what Shaggy has always stood for. It’s one of the key reasons “Scooby-Doo” was able to survive in the minds of grown individuals who’d technically left childhood behind years ago.
Shaggy Rogers was a laid back guy with a flair for natural comedy and unlikely heroism. He was, in a way, a lot like most of us. And he brought an additional and completely required wrinkle to the “Scooby-Doo” franchise, which was, for a massive amount of us, our introduction to the horror genre. And somehow it’s remained so for youngsters today, despite the accessibility of much more jarring materials.
“Scooby Doo, Where Are You!” debuted on September 13th, 1969. Today, roughly 45 years later, Shaggy, voiced by the late Kasem, has made more than 160 appearances on television and home video. Kasem even voiced Shaggy in 1995 for the video game Scooby-Doo Mystery, which saw release on both Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. The almighty video game is about the equivalent of the collectible action figure. When you’ve got a game, or an action figure modeled after you, you’ve done something insanely right for an insanely long time. And despite the years ticking away, Kasem never slowed his pace. In addition to hosting the famed radio show "American Top 40" from 1970 until 2009, he never stepped too far from his most beloved creation. And make no mistake; Casey Kasem made Shaggy, and he made him a major current hit in the final years of active voice work.
Between 2003 and 2009 Kasem voiced the unkempt one in nine feature length films, four of which (Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire, Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness Monster, Scooby-Doo in Where's My Mummy? and Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King) are highly enjoyable flicks. But that wasn’t all the attention thrown in Shaggy’s direction. Kasem also voiced the character for 42 episodes of the best Scooby series since 1979’s “Scooby Doo and Scrappy-Doo”, “What's New, Scooby-Doo?” That’s right - 42 episodes! If ever there was a dedicated performer with an affinity for one specific character, it was Kasem and Shaggy.
They both deserve respect: Shaggy for being a relatable and hilarious personality, Casey Kasem for injecting life in the character. There are too many of us who’ve had their lives changed by the “Scooby-Doo” franchise to pretend as though this isn’t a relevant brick in the wall of existence. For many of us, the show offered a first look at horror. The true precursor to the American slasher film, the show featured an assortment of masked menaces dedicated to stalking nosy teenagers, and we gravitated (still do) toward that like no man’s business. Shaggy was elemental in even making that a possibility. I wasn’t tuning in for Daphne’s personality, I’ll tell you that.
It’s disheartening knowing that we’ll never again hear Casey Kasem utilize that memorable quivery delivery of his, declaring his dire need of a mammoth amount of food in order to satiate his appetite, but that’s the cycle of life. We live, some of us make good of our time here, and then we move on to whatever it is that truly awaits when the pulse fades away entirely.
Casey Kasem made the best of this life and in the process created an on-screen life that legions of fans will never forget. He created a character that helped plant the seeds that would blossom into eventual obsessions with the horror genre. Wherever you are today, Mr. Kasem, may your experiences transcend the amazing feats you accomplished during your time on earth. You’ve more than earned it, and we’ll miss you.
For those who still cherish the “Scooby-Doo” series, here’s a guide to every project to feature the legendary Kasem voicing the silly but charming Shaggy:
Scooby Doo, Where Are You! (1969-1970) – 25 episodes
The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972-1973) – 12 episodes
Scooby's Laff-A Lympics (1977) – Single episode
The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour (1976-1978) – 8 episodes as Shaggy
Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood (1979) – TV Movie
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo (1979-1980) – 16 episodes
The Ri¢hie Ri¢h/Scooby-Doo Show (1980) – Single episode
The Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Puppy Hour (1982) – Single episode
The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show (1983) – Single episode as Mr. and Mrs. Rogers (Shaggy’s parents)
The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries (1984) – 2 episodes
The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985) – 13 episodes
Scooby's Mystery Funhouse (1985) – Single episode
Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers (1987) – TV Movie
Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School (1988) – TV Movie
Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf (1988) – TV Movie
The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera (1990) – Short
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (1988-1991) – 20 episodes
Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights (1994) – TV Movie
Scooby-Doo Mystery (1995) – Video Game
Johnny Bravo (1997) – Guest episode
Scooby-Doo's Creepiest Capers (2001) – Video
Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire (2003) – Video
Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico (2003) – Video
Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) – Guest episode
A Scooby-Doo! Christmas (2004) – Short
Scooby-Doo's Greatest Mysteries (2004) – Video
Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness Monster (2004) – Video
Hula Hullabaloola (2005) – Short
Aloha, Scooby-Doo! (2005) – Video
Scooby-Doo in Where's My Mummy? (2005) – Video
What's New, Scooby-Doo? (2002-2006) – 42 episodes
Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! (2006) – Video
Chill Out, Scooby-Doo! (2007) – Video
Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King (2008) – Video
Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword (2009) – Video
Peter Kay's Animated All Star Band: The Official BBC Children in Need Medley (2009) – Short
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