It is a sad day for comic book fans all over the world. It has been confirmed that Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy has passed away after a short battle with cancer. While details are still pouring in, fans pay tribute to the celebrity who, for many, defined the character of Batman.
When I was four years old, I was watching Fox Kids on Saturday morning when a special preview appeared. It featured a character I had never heard of, the Batman. Though the promo was less than thirty seconds, I knew right away I wanted to watch and pleaded with my parents who acquiesced.
On September 6, 1992, I tuned in to see the Batman fight Man-Bat in the episode “On Leather Wings” where I heard his voice say, “Gotham Police declare war on Batman.” I was instantly hooked. Nine days later, we would hear him utter arguably the most iconic line from the entire series while battling Scarecrow, “I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman!”
From that moment on, even as the show moved to Kids WB, Kevin Conroy was my Batman and his portrayal would become the masterclass on how to perform the role of the Dark Knight. His story did not begin with a cape and cowl, however.
Born November 30, 1955, Westbury, New York, Conroy would journey to New York City in 1973 to study at Julliard with Robin Williams and Kelsey Grammer, performing in numerous plays. He would move to San Diego in 1980 where he landed the role of Jerry Grove in the daytime soap opera Another World. During this time, he continued to perform for the theater, including Hamlet.
He would also get roles in a variety of popular television shows including the legal drama Matlock, the sitcom Cheers, as well as the military series Tour of Duty.
In 1992, he “hesitantly” auditioned for a role in a kid’s cartoon Batman: The Animated Series. Little did he know that when he uttered the words, “Bruce Wayne here,” he would be getting the role that would define his career.
Conroy told Esquire magazine, “The Batman voice was the voice you’ve heard. But the Bruce Wayne voice was a high, light, playboy voice with a lot of irony and humor in it.”
“As the studio finished the animation, they realized the show was so dark that Bruce Wayne’s light sound was jarring,” he added.
Conroy would go on to portray the character in television, home video releases, video games, anime, and even in the theatrical film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. He would finally play Bruce Wayne in a live-action scene, albeit a darker one, in the CW’s adaption of “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
His last time voicing the Batman was in 2019’s Justice League vs. the Fatal Five and his final role was as Hordak on the Netflix CGI series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. He had been cast as Bruce Wayne again for the now-canceled “Batman: Caped Crusader” HBO Max original.
Co-creator of Batman: The Animated Series Paul Dini paid tribute to Kevin Conroy on Twitter:
Kevin Conroy passed away from cancer at the age of sixty-six on November 10, 2022. He will live on as a legend and for voicing a legend.