It’s been nearly five years since legendary radio announcer Casey Kasem died at age 82 of complications from a Parkinsons-like disease in a hospital in Gig Harbor, Washington. The iconic “American Top 40” host passed after a long, lucrative career in the radio and television business, one in which he made counting the nation’s top hits down to No. 1 a weekly ritual.
But Kasem’s death was not without controversy, as his adult children claimed that their stepmother, actress Jean Kasem, had kept them away from their dad in his final days. That mysterious final period included a stretch just before his death in which the radio star appeared to have gone missing, only to be found a short time later on vacation with Jean in Washington State.
The many questions and strange circumstances surrounding Kasem’s passing will be probed in an upcoming (Nov. 24) 48 Hours special entitled “The Mysterious Death of Casey Kasem.” A sneak peek trailer of the special posted on Monday (Nov. 19) opens with audio of Kasem’s signature dulcet “AT40” delivery, juxtaposed with his goofy character work as “Shaggy” from the Scooby-Doo cartoon series.
“I loved that man so much, I would have died for him,” Jean Kasem says of her late husband as tears well up while she recounts their 1980 wedding in front of 500 friends and family. Noting that Kasem was leaving behind an “enormous” estate ($80-$100 million) at the time of his death, the show turns to one of Kasem’s adult children, daughter Kerri Kasem, who claims, “Jean killed my father.” Asked to clarify if she means that Jean murdered her husband, Kerri clarifies, “What she did led to his death,” a claim Jean calls a “flat-out lie.”
The back-and-forth is part of the bitter battle over Kasem’s estate that has unfolded over the past four years between Jean and Kasem’s adult children, Kerri, Julie and Michael, with Kerri claiming that the radio host’s second wife “isolated him and tortured him,” even as Jean tearfully tells 48 Hours reporter Peter Van Sant that she never loved anyone more than her late husband. “My dad was left to die in a facility,” Kerri says, claiming that Jean would not go to the hospital to see Casey as he lay dying.
The clip promises to lay out the bitter, sometimes shocking accusations hurled by both sides at one another, ending with Jean saying, “We have been stalked, tracked, bullied… They killed my husband, they killed their father.” Kasem’s children have filed a wrongful death suit against Jean, who has filed a counter wrongful death suit against them.
Watch the preview below.