Casey Kasem’s voice will forever be linked to “American Top 40,” but his cartoon voice acting on TV was nearly as iconic. For four decades, Kasem voiced a character who was already a superstar (Batman’s sidekick, Robin) and helped make one of his own, mystery solver Norville “Shaggy” Rogers in the “Scooby-Doo” cartoons. In between, he provided voices for “Transformers,” “Josie and the Pussycats” and even visited Middle-earth briefly for “The Return of the King.”
Kasem’s first cartoon work was as the superhero sidekick Robin in Filmation’s “The Batman/Superman Hour,” which aired from 1968 to 1969 and was the first time Batman had been seen in a cartoon.
Paired with Olan Soule, who voiced Batman, Kasem’s ever-youthful voice made an excellent Robin through many different animated series, including “Super Friends,” “The All-New Super Friends Hour,” “Challenge of the SuperFriends,” “The World’s Greatest SuperFriends,” “SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show” and “The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians.” And while Soule was eventually replaced by the voice of TV’s live-action Batman, Adam West, Kasem remained as Robin through all 13 years of animation studio Hanna-Barbera’s 13-year run with the characters.
But a year after “The Batman/Superman Hour” debuted, Kasem landed the voice role of a lifetime in another Hanna-Barbera production about a group of groovy mystery solving kids and a big Great Dane with the peculiar ability to speak. “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?” premiered on CBS in 1969 and ran for three seasons. Though Kasem didn’t voice the title role, he got the next best thing, Scooby-Doo’s human sidekick, Shaggy.
A hippie character designed to appeal to the youth audience of the late 1960s, Shaggy was usually more scared of the weekly villain than anyone else and had a seemingly bottomless stomach. Though fans have long thought that Shaggy was supposed to be a heavy stoner who constantly had the munchies, Kasem has said in interviews that was never discussed as part of the making of the show.
Though the original Scooby-Doo show lasted only until 1971, it came back in different iterations for the next 40 years. And though not all the members of Mystery, Inc., appeared in every series, Scooby and Shaggy were in every single one of the episodes.
Kasem retired from voicing Shaggy in 2009, but he came back once again for the 2010 series “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated” to play Shaggy’s father, Colton Rogers. Kasem was uncredited for this role.
In 1980, Kasem also became part of the “Lord of the Rings” saga by voicing the hobbit Merry in the animated Rankin/Bass adaptation of “The Return of the King,” which aired on ABC. (The role was played by Dominic Monaghan in Peter Jackson’s live-action films.)
During the 1980s, Kasem also lent his voice to another iconic cartoon series, “The Transformers,” which ran from 1984 to 1987. Kasem voiced two of the good-guy Autobots, Cliffjumper and Bluestreak. Kasem also voiced Cliffjumper in the 1986 feature film, “Transformers: The Movie.”
In an interview with Americans for Middle East Understanding, Kasem, who was Arab American, revealed that he eventually quit “Transformers” over its negative depictions of Arab characters.