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Jean Thompson was one of five children born to Irene Celia Thompson (1919-2008) and Herbert Owens Thompson Sr. (deceased). She is of Norwegian heritage on the motherside. She lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, before her civil-servant father moved the family to Guam in 1963. She attended the University of Guam at age 16, but after marrying a U.S. Navy lieutenant when she was 17, she left to work as a waitress and saleswoman on U.S. military bases throughout the Pacific Ocean to which her husband was posted. The marriage lasted six years. She moved to California and unsuccessfully attempted to find work in broadcast journalism. Frustrated, she joined an acting workshop and soon found roles on such TV series as Matt Houston, Fantasy Island and Alice.
Kasem played the recurring role of Loretta Tortelli, the dimwitted wife of Nick Tortelli (Dan Hedaya) on Cheers and as a cast-member of the short-lived spinoff The Tortellis. She made a brief appearance in Ghostbusters as one of Louis Tulley's party guests. Kasem has also worked as voice actor for such animated television series as Darkwing Duck, 2 Stupid Dogs, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!, Johnny Bravo, and Mother Goose and Grimm.
She made guest appearances in several movies and television shows, including Growing Pains, Cybill, Hunter, Family Feud, Hollywood Squares, My Two Dads, Hope & Gloria and others. She holds twelve (12) patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, all pertaining to crib and canopy design, developed for her crib business, Little Miss Liberty Round Crib Company.
Stepchildren and conservatorship
Casey Kasem had three children from a previous marriage: Kerri, Julie, and Mike Kasem. In October 2013, Kerri Kasem said that her father was suffering from Parkinson's disease; a few months later, she said Casey Kasem had been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, which is often difficult to differentiate from Parkinson's. Owing to his condition, he was no longer able to speak.
On October 1, 2013, Kerri Kasem, her siblings and their uncle, Casey's brother, protested outside Casey and Jean Kasem's home, saying Jean Kasem had been preventing contact with Casey Kasem for three months. Six days later, Julie Kasem and her husband, Dr. Jamil Aboulhosn, filed a conservatorship petition to place Casey Kasem under their care. The court denied their petition.
On May 12, 2014, Kerri Kasem was granted conservatorship over Jean Kasem's objection. The court ordered an investigation into Casey Kasem's whereabouts, after Jean Kasem's attorney argued the court had no jurisdiction as he was "no longer in the United States", but did not give any information to the court about Kasem's whereabouts. But after Casey was located in Washington, Kerri Kasem was given custody.
Casey Kasem died on June 15, 2014, aged 82. His widow was given her husband's body for funeral arrangements.
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- Casey Kasem funeral arrangements to be handled by wife, tmz.com; June 16, 2014.