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Casey Kasem lists Top 40 reasons for selling Westside estate

The radio host and his wife, Jean, are asking $42 million for the home, which has 12,000 square feet of living space, seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms.

April 05, 2013|By Lauren Beale, Los Angeles Times

Casey Kasem, who gained a national radio audience after "American Top 40" launched in 1970, and his wife, Jean, are listing their Westside estate for sale at $42 million.

With 12,000 square feet of living space, seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms, the home has been the site of intimate interviews and sleepovers for as many as 20 youngsters a night. The yard has served as the site of elaborate celebrity-studded gatherings and paintball battles.

The syndicated radio host bought the property for Jean Kasem in 1989 as a gift.

"We lived in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel," she said, "and I didn't want to leave." But she was expecting, and his logic won out. "You can't raise a child in a hotel."

The couple liked the 2.4-acre site near a main artery, which made it convenient for them to commute to their radio and television work. Trees line the streets, and mansions sit on green lawns behind gates and hedges. "It seemed," she said, "like a place where we could put down roots."

The footprint of the James Dolena-designed house, where rooms spill off wide hallways, suited their needs. Little else, however, reflected their tastes and preferences. So Jean Kasem began a decades-long project rebuilding, expanding and continually updating the estate.

"We tried to make it a home, not a mansion," she said, "because mansions are tough to live in."

In fact, she was still making changes as the single-story home was readied for the market. Casey Kasem jokingly calls her "Lady Winchester" in reference to the Winchester Mystery House, the San Jose mansion that was continually expanded throughout its owner's lifetime.

The Kasems' sensibilities are evident even at the home's circular motor court. The central fountain was built around an ornate piece of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The interiors are filled with antiques the Kasems have collected, and reflect Jean's love of color and textures. Window treatments include copies of historic fabrics in keeping with the furnishings. She frequently visits Jan's & Company in Los Angeles to look for antiques.

"Our favorite room is probably the library, where we collected books from all over the world, brokered deals and did our interviews on camera and radio," Jean said. The comfortable room, near the oval entry, is also where the couple edited "Top 40" scripts.

Many spaces are devoted to specific purposes. There is a hair salon, a design studio and a butler's pantry. Fireplaces can be found in the family room, the library, the two master suites and even one bathroom.

The landscaping includes mature trees, hedges, formal gardens and an expanse of lawn. Par-three golf can be played on a Bobby Trent Jones-designed course. Citrus trees, grapes and strawberries occupy a corner of the yard.

Soon after the Kasems bought the estate, they hosted a 5,000-guest benefit.

"This property was meant to be used," Jean said. "The grounds are park-like and taunt you to have fundraisers."

Perhaps most memorable for the Kasems were the theme parties for family, friends and neighbors.

For an early Sea World party, the former swimming pool took center stage as seals and a whale performed in the water.

Sand was trucked in, Jean recalled. "We brought the beach to the backyard."

In closing down the party, however, the animal handlers encountered some resistance from one of the performers.

"They had to drain the pool to get the creature out," Jean said. She then replaced that pool with a heart-shaped one that has two bath houses.

Currier & Ives was the theme for a Christmas party with guests arriving by horse-drawn surrey, carol singers and a faux ice-skating rink gracing the lawn.

For their daughter's prom, the Kasems tented the sunken tennis court, which is adjacent to the guesthouse.

"I am often stopped on the street by former students who say they will never forget it," Jean said.

Casey, who turns 81 this month, continues to work on syndicated radio shows that spin off the "American Top 40" brand. He has voiced the character Shaggy, among others, on the "Scooby-Doo" series and videos.

Jean has appeared on "Cheers and "The Tortellis," among other shows and movies, and runs a baby crib business.

Recently, she asked Casey how he viewed himself looking back on his life and career. His reply: "I'm just the guy next door."

The couple are ready to move on now that their daughter Liberty, 21, is leaving the nest.

"It will be easy to sell because it's a big house for two people," Jean said. They plan to downsize or perhaps move to the beach.

"We've tried to make memories here," Jean said, "because in the end, that's all you have."

Susan Jacobs and Bret Parsons of John Aaroe Group and Stan Smith of Teles Properties are the listing agents.

Looking for two and a half tenants

Actress Brooke D'Orsay, who has a recurring role on "Two and a Half Men," and actor-writer-producer Greg Coolidge have put their house in Hollywood Hills West up for lease at $12,000 a month.

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