Everyone who reads comics imagines the voices of the characters in their own head. But for the generation that came of age in the wake of Batman: the animated series, which aired in 1992, the Dark Knight’s intimidating timbre was paired with one man: voice actor Kevin Conroy. Warner Bros. confirmed that Conroy died Thursday at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer.
Graduated from Julliard, Conroy began his acting career in the late 1970s with various roles in front of the camera, but really found his voice behind the microphone when he took on the dual roles of Bruce Wayne and Batman for the groundbreaking WB animated series produced by Bruce Timm, Tim Reuger and Eric Radmoski.
The show was based on the then current Batman live action franchise movies directed by Tim Burton, but the creators’ vision stretched back to the character’s early history and captured the essence of Batman’s appeal for many fans.
Conroy’s voice was the glue that held it together as he alternated between easy-going Bruce Wayne and Batman’s clenched and intense growl. Apparently it took him a handful of episodes to get going. Once he did, it was impossible to imagine anyone bringing so much gravitas to “I am revenge…I am the night…I am Batman!” then Conroy.
“Kevin was perfection,” said Mark Hamill, who leaned his voice towards the iconic version of the Joker in Batman: the animated series and further. “He was one of my favorite people on Earth and I loved him like a brother. He really cared about the people around him – his decency radiated through everything he did. Every time I saw him or talked to him, I got excited.”
Conroy voiced the character in dozens of animated series, feature films, video games, and other media over three decades, while becoming a popular figure on the congressional circuit. In 2019, he finally got to bring his definitive Dark Knight to a live-action portrayal of the elderly Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” episode of the CW series. batwoman.
Conroy, who was gay, wrote about his experience with the character in a story called ‘Finding Batman’ in DC Comics’ Pride Anthology. He is survived by his husband, Vaughan Williams.