Kevin Conroy, voice of animated Batman, dies at 66

Kevin Conroy, the prolific voice actor whose serious delivery on “Batman: The Animated Series” was – for many Batman fans – the definitive sound of the Caped Crusader, who died on November 10 at age 66.

The cause was cancer, series producer Warner Bros. No other details were immediately available.

Mr. Conroy was the voice of Batman for the animated series which ran from 1992 to 1996, often acting alongside Mark Hamill’s Joker. Mr. Conroy continued as the almost exclusive animated voice of Batman, including some 15 movies, 400 television episodes, and two dozen video games, including the “Batman: Arkham” and “Injustice” franchises. He was a sought-after personality on the Comic-Con circuit.

Mr. Conroy was born in Westbury, NY on November 30, 1955, and grew up in Westport, Connecticut. He attended the Juilliard School in New York and lodged with Robin Williams. After graduating, he toured with John Houseman’s acting group, The Acting Company. He then starred in Richard Greenberg’s play “Eastern Standard” on Broadway in 1989.

“Eastern Standard”, in which Mr. Conroy played a television producer secretly living with AIDS, had a special meaning for him. Mr Conroy, who was gay, said at the time that he regularly attended the funerals of friends who had died of AIDS. He poured out his angst every night on stage.

Mr. Conroy has also acted in soap operas and made appearances on television series such as ‘Cheers’, ‘Tour of Duty’ and ‘Murphy Brown’. In 1991, when casting director Andrea Romano was looking for her lead actor for “Batman: The Animated Series,” she went through hundreds of auditions before Mr. Conroy arrived. He was there on the recommendation of a friend – and was chosen immediately.

He started the role with no comic book background and as a newbie in voice acting. His Batman was hoarse, brooding and dark. His Bruce Wayne was light and dashing. His inspiration for the contrasting voices, he said, came from the 1930s film “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” about a foppish-looking English aristocrat who leads a secret life as a dashing hero rescuing the victims of the reign. of the terror of the French Revolution.

“It’s so much fun as an actor to bite your teeth into it,” Conroy told The New York Times of his role in 2016’s Batman. “Calling it animation doesn’t do it justice. It sounds more like mythology.

As Mr. Conroy’s performance evolved over the years, it was sometimes tied to his own life. He described his own father as an alcoholic and said his family fell apart while he was in high school. He channeled those emotions into the 1993 animated film “Mast of the Phantasm,” which revolved around Bruce Wayne’s unresolved issues with his parents.

“Andrea came over after taping and hugged me,” Mr. Conroy told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018. “Andrea said, ‘I don’t know where you went, but it was a beautiful performance. She knew I was drawing on something.

Mr. Conroy is survived by his husband, Vaughn C. Williams; a sister; and a brother.

In “In Search of Batman” released earlier this year, Mr. Conroy penned a comic about his unlikely journey with the character and as a gay man in Hollywood.

“I’ve often wondered how fitting it was for me to land this role,” he wrote. “As a gay boy growing up in the 1950s and 1960s in a devoutly Catholic family, I had become adept at concealing parts of myself.”

The voice that emerged from Mr. Conroy for Batman, he said, was one he did not recognize – a voice that “seemed to roar from 30 years of frustration, confusion, denial, love, desire”.

“I felt Batman rising from deep within me.”