Over the past 30 years, Batman has been played by many people, but the sound of Batman was defined by one man: Kevin Conroy. He first starred as Batman (and Bruce Wayne) in the classic 90s TV series Batman: The Animated Series. He continued to play the character on and off until his death yesterday after a brief battle with cancer. Conroy was only 66 years old.
His death was announced on Facebook by actress Diane Pershing. She worked with Conroy on Batman: The Animated Series, where she played Poison Ivy. “He’s been sick for a while but he really spent a lot of time cuddling up, much to the delight of all his fans,” she wrote.
Conroy, trained by Julliard (who was Robin Williams’ roommate while the couple studied there) got his start in theater and television, but the role he became famous for was his version of Batman. He seemed to capture the very essence of the character, and after Batman: The Animated Series finished, Conroy returned to voice the dark knight again and again on shows like Justice League and movies like Superman/Batman: Public Enemiesand in video games like the hugely popular arkham asylum series. Earlier this year, he once again voiced Batman in the Warner Bros. fighting game. MultiVersus.
In this interview, Conroy reveals that he hasn’t even want to audition to play Batman. He originally thought he would be a better Harvey Bullock, because he was the “biggest character”. But then the classically trained actor realized that Batman was, in essence, a great Greek tragic character. And that was his way of finding his voice.
In tribute, Batman: The Animated Series writer/producer Paul Dini posted this on Twitter:
In a press release from Warner Bros., Mark Hamill – the voice of the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series and the arkham asylum games against Conroy – had this to say about working with him:
Kevin was perfection. He was one of my favorite people on the planet and I loved him like a brother. He genuinely cared about the people around him – his decency shone through in everything he did. Every time I saw him or talked to him, my spirits went up… It was one of those perfect scenarios where they had exactly the right guy for the right part, and the world was a better place for it. Its rhythms and subtleties, its tones and its delivery – all of this also helped to inform my performance. He was the perfect partner, it was such a complementary and creative experience. I couldn’t have done it without him. He will always be my Batman.
Other people will play Batman in TV shows and animated movies. But for a whole generation – and for many generations to come – Conroy will remain the voice of this character. It was iconic and indispensable. He will be deeply missed. According to Warner Bros.’ press release, he is survived by his husband Vaughn C. Williams, his sister Trisha Conroy and his brother Tom Conroy.
Actors who died in 2022
Here are the big movie and TV stars who have died this year.