Kevin Conroy, the actor who provided the voice of Batman for 30 years, has sadly passed away at the age of 66 after a brief, private battle with cancer.
From his casting in 1992, the actor portrayed Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego across the pop culture spectrum. Beginning with the groundbreaking Batman: The Animated Series, Conroy voiced the character in spinoff shows Batman: The New Adventures, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, Static Shock, and Justice League Unlimited. He then starred in DC’s DTV animated features such as Batman/Mister Freeze: Sub-Zero, Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker, Batman: Mystery of The Batwoman, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, Justice League: Doom, Batman: Assault on Arkham, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Batman: The Killing Joke. Batman: Mask of The Phantasm, the animated spinoff of BTAS, is the only one of Conroy’s Batman projects to have a theatrical release, back in 1993.
He also reprised the role for video games, infamously for Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, and Batman: Arkham Knight. His video game resume expanded with Injustice: Gods Among Us and Injustice 2. Kevin’s coup de grâce in his association with the character came in portraying a Bruce Wayne from an alternate dimension in the CW Arrowverse crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths, the first time using his Batman voice in front of the camera rather than behind a microphone. His final stints as The Dark Knight were in the Justice League Action! series and the DTV feature Justice League vs. The Fatal Five.
Former co-stars from Batman: The Animated Series, Diane Pershing, and Loren Lester – Poison Ivy and Robin, respectively – confirmed on Diane’s Instagram, featuring a photo of Conroy and Lester:
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Very sad news: our beloved voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, died yesterday. He’s been ill for a while but he really put in a lot of time at the cons, to the joy of all of his fans. He will be sorely missed not just by the cast of the series but by his legion of fans all over the world.
Kevin Conroy – The Voice, The Man, The Legend Remembered
Since the announcement of his death, Kevin’s friends and former co-stars have paid tribute on their social media. Voice Actress Tara Strong, who starred as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl with Conroy on multiple projects, only had this to say:
I don’t have the words. Not today. My heart is broken. There will never be another like him. Rest legend.
Arrowverse alum John Wesley Shipp, best known as Barry Allen from the 1990 CBS short-lived series The Flash, tweeted the following:
Heartbroken at the passing of my decades-long friend from the early days of our careers – both amazed at finding ourselves closely identified with superheroes – the late great Kevin Conroy. Much love to Kevin’s family and friends. You are honored, Kevin, and missed already.
Above all, the great Mark Hamill, whose infamous portrayal of The Joker battled Conroy’s Batman for thirty years across multiple platforms, offered these words:
Kevin was a brilliant [actor. For] several generations, he has been the definitive Batman. It was one of those perfect scenarios where they got the exact right guy for the exact right part, and the world was better for it. His rhythms and subtleties, tones, and delivery – that all also helped inform my performance. He was the ideal partner – it was such a complementary, creative experience. I couldn’t have done it without him. He will always be my Batman.
Hamill also said that he loved him like a brother.
Born on November 30, 1955, Conroy was one of three siblings raised in Westbury, New York. Acting was already in the family, as his aunt was the famous Broadway star, Susan Conroy. Having earned a full scholarship to Julliard at age 17 – studying under Academy Award winner John Houseman – he roomed with future legend Robin Williams. He graduated in 1978 and toured with Houseman’s group, “The Acting Company.” Although making his TV debut in 1980 on Another World, Conroy soon returned to the theater, even holding the title role of Hamlet in the 1984 New York Shakespeare Festival. Other TV appearances included regular roles on Tour of Duty and Ohara.
However, it was a casting call in 1991 for the role of The Caped Crusader that truly showed his versatility. Unlike any previous voice actor before him, Kevin provided two distinctive voices for the same man; Bruce Wayne had a spoiled, upbeat tone, ideal for a billionaire playboy, while he delivered a dark, gravelly voice for The Dark Knight.
He tackled this dual identity in that radio drama-esque recording studio with an intimate knowledge of the character’s psychology. In the documentary Heart of Batman, Kevin said:
The trick over this long arc has been to not let it get stale. And I learned this early on that Batman is not the disguise. Batman is who he went to, and what he became, because of the tragedy of his childhood. It’s where he found safety. It’s where he is most comfortable, in that cave. The suit of armor he puts on, the role he plays for the world, is Bruce Wayne. That’s the performance. Once I found that about the character, it really made sense to me. It kept the Batman voice from sounding artificial, and it [made Bruce Wayne] such a different persona.
To date, his body of work associated with Batman gives Kevin the distinction of being the longest-running actor to portray the character in general. Although having never suited up himself onscreen, Conroy has outlasted every “bat-actor” from Adam West to Robert Pattinson. He had also taken part in the anthology DC Pride, penning “Finding Batman”, telling the story of his life and how he came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Voice Casting Director, Andrea Romano, the woman who cast Kevin into the role he became so synonymous with, also fondly reflected on her own experience working with him:
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.
As a man is defined by his actions, one of the best validations of that heart was found after New York’s darkest day. Kevin, during an interview, once recounted an experience volunteering at a meal station following the events of 9/11.
We’re getting hundreds of meals ready, and this one guy in the middle of the night, three nights into this, says; “My day job is I’m an architect, what’s your day job?” So, I said; “Well I do voices mostly”, and he said; “I knew it! You’re the guy that does Batman! You’re that Kevin Conroy!” He goes into this dining hall, and this is the first week after the attack, there was just this somber sadness, and this guy goes; “Guys! guys! you’re not going to believe who’s been cooking your dinners! It’s Batman!” There’s a long silence, and then you can hear “Bullshit!” from the back of the place, and someone else says; “Make him prove [it! So] I’m in the back kitchen, and they suddenly hear me saying; “I am vengeance! I am the night! I am Batman!” There’s a long pause, then you hear from the back of the place; “Holy f@(#! That is Batman!” Suddenly people were laughing, and the architect who had [recognized] me said; “What does it feel like to be Santa Claus?” Cause that’s what just happened here.
BTAS writer and Producer Paul Dini, whose Mister Freeze episode “Heart of Ice” earned the series the first of two Emmy Awards, has nothing but praise for the late actor.:
Kevin brought a light with him, [everywhere, whether] in the recording booth giving it his all, or feeding first responders during 9/11, or making sure every fan who ever waited for him had a moment with their Batman. A hero in every sense of the word. Irreplaceable. Eternal.
Kevin is survived by his husband, Vaughn C. Williams, his brother, Tom, and sister, Trisha.
RIP Batman. Always The Night.
Official Source – Kevin Conroy, the Voice of Batman, Dies at 66 (cbr.com)