Kevin Conroy, the prolific voice actor who’s best known for his portrayal of Batman, has died at the age of 66. The actor died yesterday after a short battle with cancer, Warner Bros. announced, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Conroy first provided his voice for the titular character in 85 episodes of the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series from 1992-96. He then continued on with the role through nearly 60 different productions, which included 15 films and 400 episodes of television shows, as well as video games.
Several of the actor’s collaborators have commented on his death, including casting and dialogue director, Andrea Romano. “Kevin was far more than an actor whom I had the pleasure of casting and directing – he was a dear friend for 30+ years whose kindness and generous spirit knew no boundaries. Kevin’s warm heart, delightfully deep laugh and pure love of life will be with me forever,” she said.
Mark Hamill, who played Conroy’s onscreen enemy, The Joker, mourned his co-star in a statement. “Kevin was perfection. He was one of my favorite people on the planet, and I loved him like a brother. He truly cared for the people around him – his decency shone through everything he did. Every time I saw him or spoke with him, my spirits were elevated,” he said.
Conroy was born November 30, 1955 in Westbury, New York, and grew up in in Westport, Connecticut. He studied acting at Julliard alongside several noteworthy actors, including Superman star Christopher Reeve, and was roommates with Robin Williams.
Conroy went on to pursue theater work before he starred on various television series in the 1980s, including Dynasty, Tour of Duty and Ohara. He also appeared on several soap operas, including Search for Tomorrow and Another World, and had guest starring roles on Cheers, Murphy Brown, Spenser: For Hire and Matlock.
In 1992, the trajectory of the actor’s career changed forever when he was cast in Batman: The Animated Series.
“I remember Mark and I were at the WB sound studio to do ADR work and we got to watch the opening credits,” Conroy told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. “We hear the opening theme with the strings and the lush colors. It was incredibly dramatic. And I looked at Mark and said, ‘Did you have a clue this is what we were doing?’ He said, ‘No, I’m blown away!’ We both felt we were a part of something really special.”
The show is still resonating with Batman fans, 30 years after it premiered. J.J. Abrams and The Batman filmmaker Matt Reeves are collaborating up with Batman: The Animated Series‘ showrunner, Bruce Timm for a new take called on the superhero, called The Caped Crusader. However, it’s unknown if Conroy was to be involved with the series.
Though Conroy was known for his work in animation, he also became involved with the live-action side of the DC universe in 2019 when he was cast as Bruce Wayne in the CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths‘ crossover story. He most recently voiced Batman in the video game MultiVersus.
The actor was so beloved for his Batman voice role that he continued voicing the character in various other DC projects, including the Batman: Arkham and Injustice video games franchises. He also appeared in various DC Universe Animated Original Movies, including Batman: Gotham Knight (2008), Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009), Justice League: Doom (2012), Batman: The Killing Joke (2016) and Justice League vs. the Fatal Five (2019).
The 2019 Justice League animated film is Conroy’s last credited feature as Batman. His most recent video game credit as Batman is Warner Bros.’ MultiVersus from earlier this year.
Conroy felt that finding the right voice for Batman was both a challenge and a choice that defined his legacy. “Early on, I said, ‘This is the most famous and powerful guy in Gotham. Are you telling me he just puts on a mask and no one knows it’s him? Seriously? There’s got to be more to the disguise,'” Conroy told The Hollywood Reporter.
“My template for the two voices was the 1930s film The Scarlet Pimpernel. I played Bruce Wayne as sort of a humorous playboy to counteract the brooding nature of Batman,” the actor added.
One of the most notable moments of his tenure as Batman was the 1993 animated feature Mask of the Phantasm, which was his favorite project. It dealt with Bruce Wayne’s unresolved feelings towards his late parents, something Conroy would later say he could relate to, given his own tumultuous relationship with his father.
“Andrea came in after the recording and grabbed me in a hug,” Conroy told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018 while discussing the experience of voicing a particularly emotional scene. “Andrea said, ‘I don’t know where you went [emotionally], but it was a beautiful performance.’ She knew I was drawing on something.”