Voice actors are an amazing breed of people. Being a mimic of small repute they’re probably my favourite breed of actor. I found it impossible to grow up in the 1980’s without developing a fine ear for vocal performances after listening to the many hundreds of cartoons characters we were blessed with back then. Many cartoons came from the same studios so you’d often hear the voice of Optimus Prime, for instance, pop up in Jem, Visionaries, Dungeons and Dragons, G.I.Joe, etc. Once you learned their names, they became celebrities just as big as the faces on TV and Film but with that added mystery of maybe not even knowing what they looked like!
One of the biggest names in voice-acting of that era, and in fact earlier and right up until his tragic passing a month ago, was Casey Kasem.
My fellow Brits can be forgiven for not recognising the name but unless you’ve been living under a rock since the 1960s I absolutely guarantee you’ve ALL heard his voice at some point:
Shaggy was far and away his longest serving and best known role (1969-2009!) but I’ll always know him best for his classic performances in the very first Transformers cartoon where he voiced Teletraan 1 (the Autobot’s omnipresent computer), Bluestreak, and this fan-favourite red-horned jerk:
(Fun Fact: Fellow Scooby Doo alumni, Frank Welker aka Fred Jones, also worked on Transformers, providing the voice of ultimate villain, Megatron!)
He was also a very popular and well-known radio disc-jockey in America – the very definition of a ‘household name’ – alongside other greats such as the incredible Wolfman Jack. To put him into context for Brits, perhaps the best British personality similar to Kasem is the legendary Tony Blackburn. Being such a well-known voice, Kasem would pop up in other places as well…
Himself (Ghostbusters)(from 1:05 – 1:21)
That brilliant, brilliant montage sequence is perhaps only made so brilliant by the addition of Casey’s unforgettably slick vocals. (Fun Fact: Frank Welker voiced Dan Akroyd’s character, Ray Stantz, in the classic cartoon series, The Real Ghostbusters! Those guys got around!)
Ladies and gentlemen: the man, the legend, Casey Kasem.
Himself (Radio DJ)
(April 27, 1932 – June 15, 2014)