Kevin Conroy, the prolific voice actor who defined Batman for generations of audiences, died Thursday (November 10) in New York after a short battle with cancer, Warner Bros. announced. He was 66.
Conroy starred in the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series from 1992-96 and continued in the role through nearly 60 different productions spanning 15 films and 400 episodes of television as well as video games. In recent years, he was a regular fixture at the comics convention.
“Kevin was far more than an actor whom I had the pleasure of casting and directing – he was a dear friend of more than 30 years whose kindness and generous spirit knew no bounds,” said Casting and Dialogue Director Andrea Romano. “Kevin’s warm heart, lovely deep laugh and pure love of life will be with me forever.”
Mark Hamill, who played Conroy’s on-screen counterpart the Joker, mourned his collaborator in a statement.
“Kevin was perfection,” he said. “He was one of my favorite people on the planet and I loved him like a brother. He truly cared about the people around him – his decency shined through everything he did. Every time I saw him or talked to him, my spirits lifted high.”
Conroy was born on Nov. 30, 1955, in Westbury, New York, and grew up in Westport, Connecticut. He studied acting at Juilliard with notable actors such as Christopher Reeve and was roommates with Robin Williams. He continued to work on stage before landing roles in the 1980s on television series including Dynasty, Tour of Duty and Ohara. He also appeared on the soaps Search for tomorrow and Another world and had guest seats on Cheers, Murphy Brown, Spencer: For rent and Matlock.
The trajectory of his life and career changed forever when Batman: The Animated Series debuted on Sept. 5, 1992.
“I remember Mark and I were in the WB sound studio doing ADR work and we got to see 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, ‘Do you have any idea that’s what we were doing?’ He said, ‘No, I’m blown away!’ We both felt that we were part of something very special.”
The series still resonated 30 years later, with JJ Abrams and Batman filmmaker Matt Reeves joins Batman: The Animated Series‘ Bruce Timm for a new roof called The Caped Crusaderalthough it is unknown if Conroy was to be involved.
Although Conroy often worked in animation, he entered the live-action DC universe in 2019 to play Bruce Wayne on The CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover storyline. He most recently voiced Batman in the video game MultiVersus.
Over the decades, numerous actors have left their mark on Batman’s voice, with Michael Keaton, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck in particular receiving both praise and parody for their live-action takes. For Conroy, finding his voice 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 has to be more to the disguise,” Conroy shared THR in 2017. “My template for the two voices was the 1930s film The Scarlet Pimpernel. I played Bruce Wayne as a sort of humorous playboy to counter Batman’s brooding nature.”
Among the greatest moments of his career as Batman was the 1993 animated film Mask of Phantasm, which he considered his favorite. It was about 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 shoot and grabbed me for a hug,” Conroy shared THR in 2018 with giving expression to a particularly breaking scene. “Andrea said, ‘I don’t know where you went [emotionally], but it was a beautiful performance.’ She knew I was onto something.”
Conroy is survived by her husband, Vaughn C. Williams, sister Trisha Conroy and brother Tom Conroy.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.