Friday, November 11, 2022

Kevin Conroy, iconic voice of animated Batman, 1955-2022

The Bat-Signal is at half-mast.

Kevin Conroy, the actor who iconically voiced Batman/Bruce Wayne for decades, died yesterday at the terribly young age of 66.

Starting with the debut of Batman: The Animated Series in 1992, I was a fan. Starting in 2014, we became friends…and I became an even bigger fan.

Like his Juilliard classmate Christopher Reeve, Kevin was a superhero not only for a living but also in real life. 

Before the Bill Finger credit change, I did all I could to bring about a Bill Finger credit change. That included pitching the Paley Center in New York a panel to celebrate Batman’s 75th anniversary. We booked four Batman notables and I inserted one Batman nobody—me, so I’d have a high-profile platform to spread word about Bill.

One of those notables was Kevin, who then became a fellow Finger advocate.

When the Bronx renamed a street for Bill in 2017, I invited Kevin to attend/speak. It was frigid, it was unpaid, it was far—but he came. 

When I asked Kevin if he would ask his colleague Mark Hamill (who voiced the Joker to Kevin’s Batman) if he would add his autograph to a thank-you gift for Derek Wolfford, who runs the Bill Finger Appreciation Group, Kevin (and then Mark) obliged—even though people like them are likely asked for favors like this far too often. Both agreed partly for Derek—and largely for Bill.

But these are not the heroic acts I’m referring to.

At the Paley event, the other Kevin on the panel (Smith) told the audience that Kevin Conroy had volunteered to do what he could after 9/11. Smith had not cleared this story in advance with Conroy, but Conroy was gracious. His role? Cooking for first responders in a makeshift kitchen near Ground Zero—for two weeks. And, appropriately for Batman, Kevin took the night shift.

I knew nothing of another aspect of Kevin’s heroism until this year when a story he wrote about his past was published in DC Comics anthology honoring Pride Month. (Kevin was the first openly gay actor to portray Batman.) 

Please read it

My last email exchange with Kevin was about that story, on June 8. I did not know he was sick. His last words to me: “stay safe and see you soon.”

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