Kevin Conroy, best known for voicing Batman on Warner Bros.’ long-running TV show Batman: The Animated Series, died after a short battle with cancer on 10 November. He was 66 at the time.
The 85-episode Batman: The Animated Series originally aired from 1992 to 1995, and while Conroy’s performance was widely acclaimed, the series also featured Mark Hamill’s memorable performance as the Joker.
“Kevin was perfection,” Hamill said in a statement, adding: “He was one of my favourite 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.”
Conroy also voiced the character in various other DC projects, such as 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).
Conroy’s last credited feature as Batman was the 2019 Justice League animated film, while his most recent video game credit as Batman is Warner Bros.’ MultiVersus from earlier this year.
“He’s such an iconic character,” Conroy told DC in a 2014 interview, referring to the superhero character. “He’s such a part of the American cultural landscape. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of and to have contributed to.”
Meanwhile, WB Animation issued a statement saying: “Warner Bros. Animation is saddened by the loss of our dear friend Kevin Conroy.”
“His iconic performance of Batman will forever stand among the greatest portrayals of the Dark Knight in any medium. We send our warmest thoughts to his loved ones and join fans around the world in honouring his legacy,” they added.
Conroy recently wrote Finding Batman, which was showcased as part of DC Pride 2022 earlier this year. Conroy was openly gay, making him the only openly gay actor to portray Batman. Finding Batman recounted the actor’s experience playing the Caped Crusader while also coming to terms with his own sexuality.
“I often marvelled at how appropriate it was that I should land this role. As a gay boy growing up in the 50s and 60s, in a devoutly Catholic family, I’d grown adept at concealing parts of myself,” Conroy wrote in the comic, according to gaming outlet Kotaku.
Batman is, without doubt, one of his most known characters, but Conroy’s career began in theatre. He regularly performed the work of William Shakespeare and was a graduate of Julliard’s esteemed acting programme. Conroy has appeared in adaptations of Hamlet and King Lear, as well as Broadway productions like Lolita and Eastern Standard.
During the early days of the pandemic, Conroy shared a clip of himself reciting Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30 from his garden. A bittersweet reflection on lost loved ones and time passed, it ends on a hopeful note, all of which Conroy conveyed in his 45-second, off-the-cuff clip.
“But if the while I think on thee, dear friend/All losses are restor’d, and sorrows end.”
Tribute has poured in from Hollywood as well as fans of his work. Actor Clancy Brown said: “Bruce imagined him, Andrea found him and, once found, Kevin kicked the door open for all of us to bring to you the amazing characters of DCAU. Kevin, my friend, my colleague, my hero. We will all miss you terribly. You are a singular soul. Thank you. Now rest.”
Voice actor Liam O’Brien said: “Not even sure I’d be doing what I am today if I hadn’t been so inspired by Kevin Conroy. What a singular talent.”
“Twenty-plus years ago, I watched in awe as Kevin Conroy – in terribly poor health at the time – gave every drop of energy in him to be there for fans at a signing event. His voice shook the room even when his body could barely stand. It was heroic,” writer Bob Goodman tweeted, adding: “Kevin Conroy was the real deal. He loved his fans and constantly spoke of the honour bestowed on him, getting to play Batman. An incredibly sweet, humble, and gracious man. It’s a sad day.”
A Twitter user said: “RIP legend. You have been voicing this legendary character for years and inspired millions through your work and now it’s time for you to rest. It’s okay, Gotham is safe. You will be missed Kevin Conroy and you’ll always be Batman.”