America lost a legend this weekend when the iconic voice of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, Casey Kasem died this Sunday at 82 years of age in Gig Harbor, Washington. The cause of his death is said to be from harsh complications of Parkinson’s Disease.
Kasem was famous for hosting the radio show American Top 40, but was also remembered for his voice acting career, notably playing the voice of the wacky, ever-hungry Norville “Shaggy” Rogers from the widely popular Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon, Scooby-Doo. His voice work as Shaggy commenced in 1969 when the first series of the TV show was released, titled Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?. Kasem continuously voiced the character up until the most recent version of the show, Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated in which he voiced Colton Rogers, the father of Shaggy. Matthew Lillard, who played Shaggy in the live-action Hollywood film versions of Scooby-Doo, is also Shaggy’s voice in Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated and all current Scooby-Doo cartoon movies.
Though a great many fans of Scooby and Kasem are very familiar with the television shows and films that have been released, they may be pleased to know that Scooby and the gang have also taken the theatrical stage by storm. A live, musical staging of Scooby has been brought to life by Warner Bros. and Life Like Touring, entitled Scooby-Doo LIVE! Musical Mysteries. The production has been seen on hundreds of stages all across the globe including national tours in USA, Canada, The Middle East and Australia. Coincidentally, this hit musical production had its final performance of the year on Sunday, June 16 – the same day as Kasem’s death.
Garrett Lewis Dill is the talented young actor who portrays Shaggy in the stage version of Scooby-Doo. He is one of two original cast members that have been a part of the show since its opening performance. The other is Cody Collier who stars as the great dane himself, Scooby. One could say that this is a real-life Scooby and Shaggy relationship – together from the beginning. Dill and Collier both had daunting tasks of mastering the iconic voices of Scooby and Shaggy that were created by Casey Kasem and the late Don Messick. Kasem outlived Messick, his original Scooby, with his 82 years as opposed to Messick’s 71 years of life.
“Learning to do the voice that Casey Kasem created for Shaggy was pretty hard,” Dill says, “It’s so specific and everyone knows it so I had my work cut out for me. I kept listening to the cartoon’s voice over and over again to get the rhythms and pitches he would make in my head. Now that I’ve got it down pat, I do it for people all the time.” Dill then switched to his ‘Shaggy’ voice to say, “Like, we’re gonna miss you, man!” which was, of course, directed toward Kasem.
Kasem’s outstanding performances as Shaggy left permanent impressions on people such as Dill, but it is often wondered how Mr. Kasem came up with this character. Kasem made Shaggy’s vocals an octave higher than his natural voice and based the character on Bob Denver’s character, Maynard G. Krebs, from the television program The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
In 1997, Burger King wanted the character of Shaggy to be in a commercial supporting their chain of fast-food restaurants. Being a vegetarian and an opponent of fast-food and meat, Kasem was outraged at the proposal and resigned from voicing Shaggy. Desperately desiring Kasem’s talent again, the producers of Scooby-Doo decided to make Shaggy a vegetarian just like Kasem. In 2002, Kasem agreed to the character change and returned to the show.
Kasem’s final moments of life were surrounded by his closest loved ones. Shortly after his death on Sunday morning, Kasem’s daughter, Kerri Kasem, posted on her Facebook page her gratitude for the vast amounts of support received from her father’s fans and those close to him. Her heartbroken siblings, Mike and Julie, reciprocated their thanks to his supporters and expressed the sorrow they now carry for the loss of their father. Though the passing of a loved one, especially one as close as a father, is incredibly difficult the Kasem children are happy to know their father is suffering no more and has moved forward to somewhere greater.
Casey Kasem was a man of many talents and loved by millions of Americans. The high-pitched voice of Shaggy will remain with boys and girls of all generations for years to come as Scooby-Doo is played world-wide on their television screens and on their stages. After 82 years of life, Kasem had many accomplishments that has made the world a place that is that much better to live in.
By Cody Collier