Your childhood died today: Casey Kasem is old, sick, and missing

Your childhood died today. Casey Kasem, the DJ who led us each Saturday morning through America’s Top 40, who is married to Nick Tortelli’s ditzy blonde wife on Cheers, and who voiced America’s greatest teen stoner hero, Shaggy of Scooby Doo, is 82, and now missing from his nursing home, hidden from his children by his wife, Jean.


Kasem, a Lebanese American whose peace politics ranged all the way from McGovern to Kucinich, can no longer speak due to his Parkinson’s, his children say. His silken voice is gone.

Kasem’s children have been fighting to wrest conservatorship of their father from their stepmother, Jean Kasem; they say Jean will not let them see their father at all. A judge appointed daughter Kerri as Casey’s temporary caretaker yesterday, but Jean refused to produce him. Jean’s lawyer says he does not know where Casey is, but that he’s out of the country. He claims Jean has the right to move Casey wherever she wishes — which might have been true till the moment a judge ruled otherwise.

Family is terrible.

Sometimes it’s parents who haven’t seen their gay daughter in decades pushing her partner out of her hospital room. Sometimes it’s children who cut off all contact with their parents because “because.” Sometimes it’s the Schiavos, just Schiavo-ing it up all over the place.

Family is terrible. And family is pain. And we are all monsters at some time or another. And to keep children from their parents — or to keep a husband from his husband, or any of the possible permutations of isolation and control — is more terrible still.

Your childhood died today, at the news that somebody whose voice was America could be spirited away and hidden like an object, a thing, secreted and isolated and lost. That a stepmother could hate her (presumably) beloved’s flesh and blood so much. And at the reminder that Casey Kasem gave way to Ryan Seacrest.


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