Kevin Conroy—the actor who became Batman for generations of fans when he voiced the Dark Knight in the iconic Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League cartoons, as well as a plethora of video games, including the Batman Arkham franchise—has died. He was 66.
First reports of Conroy’s passing, after a brief battle with cancer, came from Diane Pershing, who played Poison Ivy opposite Conroy in the legendary Batman: The Animated Series, before being confirmed by Warner Bros. Animation.
“Kevin was far more than an actor whom I had the pleasure of casting and directing—he was a dear friend for 30+ years whose kindness and generous spirit knew no boundaries,” said casting director Andrea Romano in a press release provided by Warner Bros. “Kevin’s warm heart, delightfully deep laugh and pure love of life will be with me forever.”
“Kevin was perfection,” added Mark Hamill, the Star Wars star who voiced the Joker opposite Conroy’s Batman. “He was one of my favorite 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.”
Tributes have begun pouring in for the actor, including from Batman: The Animated Series scribe Paul Dini:
Conroy’s career as an actor began with a role on the soap opera Another World before a stint in the theater throughout the early 1980s. A queer man, Conroy’s acting career came hand-in-hand with the rise of the AIDs epidemic, a subject he went on to write about in this year’s DC Comics Pride issue. After regular roles on TV, including appearances in Dynasty and Tour of Duty, Conroy would be shot to stardom in the hearts of comics fans and children the world over when he landed the coveted role of Bruce Wayne and Batman in the 1992 Batman: The Animated Series.
Conroy’s duality as the playboy Wayne persona and the tragic, tortured Batman endeared his voice as the definitive interpretation of the Dark Knight to audiences immediately, making him the Batman of generation after generation as he continued to voice the character in continuations like the movie Mask of the Phantasm as well as the successor series The New Adventures of Batman and Batman Beyond, as well as other DC animated shows like Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Conroy’s vocal presence and his reach lead to him continuing to voice the Dark Knight in the decades since The Animated Series in multiple mediums, including video games like the Batman: Arkham trilogy, the Injustice fighting games, and many more, as well as several films in the DC animated universe. Conroy even went on to play a live-action version of Bruce Wayne in the CW DC TV show crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths.
“A mask of confidence to the world, and a private one racked by conflict and wounds.” Conroy wrote of the duality of Batman, and his identity as an out gay man, in his DC Comics Pride story Finding Batman, “Could I relate to that, they asked? Was I my public face, or my private face? Had I made too many compromises? My heart pulsed, I felt my face flush, my breath grew deeper, I began to speak, and a voice I didn’t recognize came out. It was a throaty, husky, rumbling sound that shook my body.” And with that rumbling sound, Conroy defined the voice that became the Batman for legions of fans—and will remain to be, even after his passing.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.