Kevin Conroy has passed away at the age of 66. He was best known for his iconic voice acting role as Batman in various iterations of the character in film, TV, and games but he started as a Julliard-trained thespian alongside the likes of Kelsey Grammer and Robin Williams.
One of the true hallmarks of Conroy’s Batman performance was his talent for drawing such a distinct line between his Bruce Wayne and Batman voices. Watching Batman: The Animated Series, it’s easy to see how even Bruce’s friends like Lucius Fox and Commissioner Gordon could remain blissfully unaware of his nighttime antics.
There’s a scene in the episode “Heart of Steel Part 1” that captures this perfectly. As Batman is doing his thing in the Batcave, Alfred fields a call from Lucius and Conroy’s voice immediately shoots up an octave and loses all its gruff edge as he mentally puts on a different mask.
But the real beauty of Conroy’s performance is that it was never simply about playing Bruce Wayne or Batman. They weren’t two people occupying the same body, but merely different shades of a person still struggling to make sense of a senseless tragedy decades after the fact. There are many moments over the course of the series where echoes of Bruce bleed into Batman’s voice, especially when dealing with his enemies.
Michael Keaton is my favourite live action Batman but Kevin Conroy is the overall best. Thanks for defining my childhood, Kevin.