Kevin Conroy, Longtime Voice of Batman, Dies at 66
Conroy voice-starred in the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series from 1992-96 and continued with the role through nearly 60 different productions, spanning 15 films and 400 episodes of television as well as video games. Conroy was a regular at comic conventions in recent years.
“Kevin was far more than an actor whom I had the pleasure of casting and directing — he was a dear friend for 30-plus years whose kindness and generous spirit knew no boundaries,” said casting and dialogue director Andrea Romano. “Kevin’s warm, gentle laugh, pure love of life and delightfully deep heart will always be with me.”
Mark Hamill, Conroy’s screen foil, the Joker, has released a statement in which he mourns his collaborator.
He said, “Kevin was perfection.” He was one of my favourite people on the planet and I loved him like a brother. He was a true caring person, and his kindness shined through in everything he did. My spirits were lifted every time I saw him or spoke to him.
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 like Christopher Reeve. He was also a roommate of Robin Williams. He went on to pursue work onstage before landing roles in the 1980s on TV series including Dynasty, Tour of Duty and Ohara. He also appeared on the soaps Search for Tomorrow and Another World and had guest spots on Cheers, Murphy Brown, Spenser: For Hire 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 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 colours. It was very dramatic. It was incredibly dramatic.
The series still resonated 30 years later, with J.J. Abrams and The Batman filmmaker Matt Reeves teaming with Batman: The Animated Series‘ Bruce Timm for a new take called The Caped Crusader, though it is unknown if Conroy was to be involved.
Though Conroy worked often in animation, he stepped into the live-action DC universe in 2019 to play Bruce Wayne on The CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover story. He most recently voiced Batman in the video game MultiVersus.
Over the years, many actors have contributed to Batman’s voice. Christian Bale, Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck are all well-known for their live-action performances. Conroy’s legacy is defined by his choice to find the voice.
“Early on I said, “This is the most powerful and famous guy in Gotham. Are you saying he just puts on a mask so that no one can see it? Seriously? There’s got to be more to the disguise,’ ” Conroy told THR in 2017. “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.”
Among the crowning moments of his career as Batman was the 1993 animated feature Mask of the Phantasm, which he counted as his favorite. It dealt with Wayne’s unresolved feelings towards his parents. Conroy later said that he could relate to this film because of his own turbulent relationship with his father.
“Andrea came in after the recording and grabbed me in a hug,” Conroy told THR in 2018 of voicing a particularly wrenching scene. “Andrea said, “I don’t know where [emotionally] you went, but it was beautiful performance.”
Conroy is survived his husband, Vaughn C. Williams; sister Trisha Conroy; and brother Tom Conroy.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.