Kevin Conroy — the 1973 Staples High School graduate and former Staples Players star whose voice was the definitive Batman — died yesterday. He was 66 years old, and had battled cancer.
Conroy was Batman’s voice on the animated television series from 1992 to ’96. He continued with the character through 15 films, 400 TV episodes and 2 dozen video games.
“Kevin brought a light with him everywhere, whether in the recording booth giving it his all or feeding first-responders during 9/11 or making sure every fan who ever waited for him had a moment with their Batman,” said Paul Dini, producer of the animated show. ”A hero in every sense of the word.”
Conroy) attended Juilliard and roomed with Robin Williams. After graduating, he toured with John Houseman’s acting group, the Acting Company. He performed in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Public Theater and in “Eastern Standard” on Broadway. At the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California, he performed in “Hamlet.”
The 1980s production of “Eastern Standard,” in which Conroy played a TV producer secretly living with AIDS, had particular meaning to him. Conroy, who was gay, said at the time he was regularly attending funerals for friends who died of AIDS. He poured out his anguish nightly on stage.
In 1980, Conroy moved to Los Angeles, began acting in soap operas and booked appearances on TV series including “Cheers,” “Tour of Duty” and “Murphy Brown.” In 1991, when casting director Andrea Romano was scouting her lead actor for “Batman: The Animated Series,” she went through hundreds of auditions before Conroy came in. He was there on a friend’s recommendation — and cast immediately.
Click here for the full AP obituary.
In 2016 — when the New York Times profiled Conroy — “06880” posted this story:
In the eight-decade history of Batman, no one played the Dark Knight more.
For over 20 years, the 1973 Staples High School graduate has lent his “deeply charming, yet virile voice” to 9 Batman TV series, 12 animated movies and 7 video games. No other actor has played Batman for so long, or been as closely identified with him.
Today, the New York Times finally took notice.
The Arts section features a full-length story on Conroy — who, it should be noted, is hardly a 1-trick Batman. The Juilliard alum also toured nationally with “Deathtrap,” appeared on the soap opera “Another World,” played Laertes in the New York Shakespeare Festival, acted on Broadway, and was a regular on “Ohara” and “Tour of Duty.”
But it’s as Batman he’s best known, and that’s the Times hook. Jeff Muskus writes:
He has logged the most screen time of anyone in the comic-book vigilante’s 77-year history — without ever showing his face onscreen for the role. Still, his voice, deep and resonant, has defined the character for fans who grew up with his shows, and again for those devouring his three Arkham video games.
“It’s so much fun as an actor to sink your teeth into,” Mr. Conroy, 60, said over lunch in New York’s theater district. “Calling it animation doesn’t do it justice. It’s more like mythology.”
The story notes that “school plays” — aka Staples Players — provided Conroy with a home, away from his dysfunctional family (he lived some of the time with friends).
Unlike Batman, Mr. Conroy has managed to resolve much of his childhood trauma. First, he sought a modicum of financial stability….He saved during his stage and Los Angeles days, flipping houses on both coasts, and supported and made peace with his parents in their final years. “I was able to speak for my father at his funeral and sing for my mother at hers,” he said.
Mr. Conroy said he’s grateful for his long-running second act. “I’ve been really fortunate to have gotten Batman, because he’s a character that’s just evolved,” he said. “It’s just been a character where you can ride that wave for 24 years. Keeping him alive, keeping him from getting just dark and boring and broody, is the challenge.”