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Batman: The Animated Series Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

Debuting in 1992, "Batman: The Animated Series" was a groundbreaking afternoon cartoon that changed the face of children's animation forever. Widely acclaimed for its dark themes, it proved that a kid's cartoon could be serious and dramatic while still being wildly entertaining for all ages. With a keen eye for detail, the series boasted well-written stories that elevated the genre, plus top-notch animation that pushed the boundaries of what kids were used to seeing. But what may have been most impressive was its impeccable voice cast.

From the outset, series creator Bruce Timm and voice director Andrea Romano weren't looking to make just another kid's cartoon; In addition to more mature stories and a focus on a film noir tone, they also wanted a cast of actors who came from the world of theater, rather than children's animation. Sadly, with more than 30 years having passed since its debut, a number of the actors who lent their voices to the series have left us. From superstars to lesser-known names, we pay tribute to those we've lost from "Batman: The Animated Series."

Kevin Conroy (Batman)

Kevin Conroy was perhaps an unlikely choice to play the title role in "Batman: The Animated Series" back in 1991. Trained at Juilliard, Conroy had far more experience on the stage in the 1980s than on television or cartoons, and he went in almost confused as to why he was being auditioned. Though he'd had a few small TV roles, his casting in 1992 as Batman marked his first work in animation. 

And yet, for the rest of his remarkable career, that's how he'd be known — as the voice of the Dark Knight, cementing his legacy for all time. Downright iconic, he might have been the first actor to truly grasp the psyche of the character, using two separate voices for Bruce Wayne and Batman, and understanding that it was Wayne who was the mask. Beloved by fans and critics, Conroy continued playing the character in "The New Batman Adventures" and "Justice League" as well as numerous direct-to-video animated movies. In 2009, he began voicing the role in the "Arkham Asylum" video game series, and he even played an aging Bruce Wayne in an episode of the live-action "Batwoman."

In a 2016 interview with the New York Times, Conroy came out as a gay man and later wrote a comic book story called "Finding Batman," an autobiographical story about his life. Sadly, in 2022, Conroy died at the age of just 66, and it was later revealed he'd been privately dealing with intestinal cancer.

Richard Moll (Two-Face)

A good man twisted by violence and mental illness, Harvey Dent was turned into Two-Face, one of Gotham's worst criminals, through a series of horrific events. Bringing him to life before and after his transformation was actor Richard Moll, who most knew at the time for his role as the dim-witted bailiff Bull on the hit sitcom "Night Court."

At a towering 6 feet, 8 inches, Moll was often cast as an intimidating antagonist or brutish heavy early in his career. Beginning his career in the late '70s, some of his first appearances were in "Welcome Back, Kotter," "Happy Days," and "The Rockford Files," before moving on to "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" and "The Fall Guy" in the early '80s.

Moll was more than just a sitcom actor, though, and his career ran the gamut from cop dramas like "T.J. Hooker" to totally forgotten sci-fi B-movies like "The Survivor." In addition to voicing Two-Face, he also played plenty of other animated roles including Scorpion in "Spider-Man: The Animated Series," the Abomination in "The Incredible Hulk," and Norman in "Mighty Max." He even returned to voice Two-Face in "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" in 2010. He passed away on October 26, 2023 at the age of 80.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Alfred)

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. was one of the most accomplished actors in the voice cast of "Batman: The Animated Series." He got his start in theater in the 1940s, appearing with Spencer Tracy in "The Rugged Path." The following decade, the actor began his career in Hollywood, eventually snagging a recurring role on "Maverick," but it wasn't long before leading roles came his way.

In 1958, Zimbalist led the main cast of "77 Sunset Strip" for six seasons as Detective Stu Bailey, an intrepid crimefighter based on Sunset Boulevard. A year after the show ended, Zimbalist starred in "The F.B.I.," a groundbreaking police procedural that remained on the air for nearly a decade. After a recurring role on Pierce Brosnan's "Remington Steele" as the enigmatic father of Steele himself, Zimbalist returned to the ranks of guest actor, appearing on "Murder, She Wrote," "Who's the Boss," and "The Love Boat," among others. 

Among his film appearances were roles in "Wait Until Dark," "Airport 1975," "Hot Shots!," and two feature-length animated Caped Crusader adventures, "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" and "Batman and Mr. Freeze: Subzero." Once Zimbalist became Alfred on "Batman," his services as a voice actor were in high demand. Later voice roles included playing Doc Ock on "Spider-Man: The Animated Series" and Justin Hammer on "Iron Man," with small roles in "Gargoyles" and "Mighty Ducks." He died from natural causes in 2014 at the age of 95.

Arleen Sorkin (Harley Quinn)

"Batman: The Animated Series" didn't just adapt the best comic book villains, it also created a few new ones. Chief among them was Harley Quinn, the zany sidekick to the Joker, who was partially based on voice actor Arleen Sorkin herself. 

Sorkin actually got her start on daytime soaps, playing Calliope Jones on "Days of Our Lives" for more than 200 episodes in the mid-to-late '80s. Though she did have other roles afterward — including a notable run on the mostly-forgotten sitcom "Duet" — her career took a sharp turn when she was hired to bring life to Harley Quinn in 1992. Sorkin voiced Quinn for 15 installments of "Batman" between its two incarnations (including "The New Batman Adventures"), repeatedly brought back because she was just too good — and fans couldn't get enough of her. 

In the 2000s, Sorkin played Quinn again in the online animated series "Gotham Girls," in episodes of "Static Shock" and "Justice League," and later in video games like "Batman: Arkham Asylum." Sorkin died from multiple sclerosis in 2023 at the age of 67. Her final role was, fittingly, Harley Quinn in the DC Universe Online MMO.

Bob Hastings (Commissioner Gordon)

Gotham Police Commissioner James Gordon was played by Bob Hastings, whose lengthy filmography swerved between movies and television. Prior to "Batman: The Animated Series," Hastings' most notable role was probably as Lt. Elroy Carpenter in "McHale's Navy," a role he reprised on the big screen twice for a 1964 film and its sequel. 

Not long after "McHale's Navy," Hastings joined the world of superheroes, voicing the title role in "The New Adventures of Superboy" in 1966. He mostly stuck to voice acting in the '70s, with roles in the animated adaptation of "I Dream of Jeannie," "The Great Grape Ape Show," and countless others. Late that decade, he snuck back into live-action, snagging a 90-episode stint on "General Hospital" alongside voice work for "Casper and the Angels" and "Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo."

The '80s saw Hastings guest-star on shows like "The Dukes of Hazzard," "Falcon Crest," and "Trapper John, M.D.," before being cast as the voice of Gordon in 1992. He'd stick with the role through "The New Batman Adventures," also playing Gordon in several animated movies and video games. Hastings' long life story came to a close in 2014 at the age of 89, when he died at home in Burbank, California from prostate cancer.

John Vernon (Rupert Thorne)

The Caped Crusader had his share of colorful supervillains to contend with in "Batman: The Animated Series." But he also had to face off against the most ruthless mobsters in Gotham, and none were more formidable than Rupert Thorne, voiced by actor John Vernon. An actor whose career stretched back to the 1950s, Vernon often appeared as villains and antagonists.

In the 1970s he played a number of baddies on the original "Mission: Impossible," and around the same time played the mayor of San Francisco in "Dirty Harry." His filmography is littered with popular projects which are almost too numerous to mention, but key roles as Dean Wormer in "Animal House" and Fletcher in "The Outlaw Josey Wales" made him a recognizable face to millions.

On the animation side, "Batman: The Animated Series" wasn't even the beginning; In 1966 he voiced Iron Man and Namor in the original "Marvel Superheroes" cartoon. After "Batman" he played Doctors Doom and Strange in "Fantastic Four" and "Spider-Man," and General Ross in "The Incredible Hulk." He passed away at the age of 72 in 2005 due to complications from heart surgery.

Brock Peters (Lucius Fox)

Not all of Batman's allies in "Batman: The Animated Series" are costumed crimefighters. As Bruce Wayne he also has friends in high places, and the most stalwart is Wayne Enterprises executive Lucius Fox, voiced by Brock Peters, a veteran actor with some serious screen credits. 

Peters made his mark back in the '60s playing Tom Robinson in the 1962 classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird." From there, other major movies followed, with Peters playing key roles in "Major Dundee" and the sci-fi favorite "Soylent Green," both with Charlton Heston, as well as "The Pawnbroker" from acclaimed director Sidney Lumet.

Playing Lucius Fox wasn't the first time he'd voiced a character in an iconic franchise: in the early '80s he supplanted James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader in the "Star Wars" radio dramas. Of course, sci-fi fans know him better from "Star Trek," where he played Admiral Cartwright in "Star Trek IV" and "Star Trek VI" as well as the father of Captain Sisko on "Deep Space Nine." He died of pancreatic cancer at 78 in 2005. 

Ed Asner (Roland Daggett)

A big business tycoon, Roland Daggett might not sound like a terrifying villain, but not every adversary needs to be physically threatening. Daggett is the head of Daggett Industries, the pharmaceutical company that creates the compound that turns Matt Hagen into Clayface. He was played by Ed Asner, a legendary actor who isn't normally known for playing villains. 

Asner is most famous for playing Lou Grant, the cantankerous boss on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Asner even got his own spin-off, which ran for five seasons, but was canceled in 1982. The actor believed the axing was the result of him publicly criticizing U.S. foreign policy in Central America. Despite this, Asner continued to have a successful career, appearing in more TV shows and films than we can count.

In addition to "Batman," Asner voiced the fatherly Hudson in "Gargoyles" and Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's "Up," while also playing Santa Claus in "Elf." Asner kept active right up until his death in 2021 at the age of 91, with projects still releasing in 2023.

Roddy McDowall (The Mad Hatter)

Inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll, the Mad Hatter is a disgruntled, lovesick supergenius who develops mind control technology and uses it for criminal means. He's voiced by Roddy McDowall, a sci-fi icon who audiences know best as Cornelius and his son Caesar from the original "Planet of the Apes" films (and Galen in the TV spin-off).

Getting his start as a child, McDowall already had a long filmography by the time he was an adult, appearing in classics like "My Friend Flicka" and "Lassie Come Home" when he was still a teen. In 1964, McDowall got a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as Octavian in "Cleopatra," and played Matthew in the Biblical epic "The Greatest Story Ever Told" a year later, before starring in "That Darn Cat!" with Hayley Mills. Horror fans will remember him as washed-up actor and horror show host Peter Vincent in the 1985 vampire thriller "Fright Night."

Of course, his voice role as the Mad Hatter isn't his only connection to the Dark Knight. He also played the villainous Bookworm in the 1966 Adam West "Batman" live-action series, while also playing a pair of characters on the live-action "Wonder Woman." One of his final performances before his death was playing the Mad Hatter in a cameo in the "Superman: The Animated Series" episode "Knight Time." He died of lung cancer in 1998 at the age of 70.

Aron Kincaid (Killer Croc)

Killer Croc debuted in the pages of "Detective Comics" in 1983 and came to "Batman: The Animated Series" less than a decade later in the episode "Vendetta." Cursed with a genetic mutation that gives him reptilian skin along with increased strength and durability, he's one of Batman's most formidable foes on a physical level. In the series, he's voiced by Aron Kincaid, which may seem curious if you're familiar with the actor's early work.

Back in the '60s, Kincaid made a name for himself in beach party movies, appearing in the likes of "Beach Ball," "Ski Party," and "The Girls on the Beach," as well as goofball mashups like "The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini" and "Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine." Later in his career, though, he turned to voice acting in cartoons, and that's where his casting as Killer Croc begins to make more sense. In the '80s he had major roles in "Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling," and "The Transformers," while doing smaller voice work for "The Real Ghostbusters" and "The New Adventures of Jonny Quest."

Following his time as Killer Croc, Kincaid all but retired, with his final role coming in an episode of "The Zeta Project" in 2002. Kincaid died from heart-related issues in 2011 at age 70.

Rene Auberjonois (Dr. March)

The first villain ever seen in "Batman: The Animated Series" was the deadly Man-Bat in the premiere episode, "On Leather Wings." At first, viewers are led to believe that the creature is actually sinister scientist Dr. March, played by Rene Auberjonois. Though it ultimately turns out to be his son-in-law, Mark Langstrom (Marc Singer), it's March whose twisted beliefs in evolution lead him to create a formula to turn people into giant bats.

Auberjonois was no stranger to voicing superheroes. Back in the 1970s he played Desaad, the assistant to Darkseid, in "Super Friends" and later voiced General Zod in the 1988 "Superman" cartoon. While it's impossible to rattle off the impressive credits on Auberjonois' resume, his biggest roles came in the sitcom "Benson" as Clayton Endicott III, as the shapeshifter Constable Odo in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (where he even once shared a scene with fellow "Batman" actor Brock Peters), and as Paul Lewiston on "Boston Legal."

Anyone who watched cartoons in the '80s and '90s will surely recognize his voice, too, as he lent his talents to countless animated adventures. Auberjonois passed away in 2019 at the age of 79, the result of lung cancer.

Michael Ansara (Mr. Freeze)

In 1992, "Batman: The Animated Series" turned the relatively one-note villain called Mr. Freeze into one of the most complex and sympathetic characters Batman ever faced. With a new origin that was eventually retconned into the comics and a new design by "Hellboy" creator Mike Mignola, the character became more popular than ever. A big part of the reason was Michael Ansara, the actor who brought a mix of heartrending pathos and spine-tingling horror to his portrayal of Dr. Victor Fries.

Ansara, an actor of Syrian descent, made a name for himself in the 1950s and '60s playing Native American characters, including his starring role in the popular "Broken Arrow." But he also had iconic guest-starring performances in "The Outer Limits" and "I Dream of Jeannie" (while he was married to Jeannie herself, Barbara Eden). In 1968 he joined "Star Trek" as the Klingon commander Kang in the episode "Day of the Dove," a role he'd reprise in episodes of "Star Trek: Voyager" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" decades later.

At the movies, fans might know Ansara from  "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and "Guns of the Magnificent Seven," among many others. But for fans of Batman he'll always be Mr. Freeze, a role he played for the last time in an episode of "Batman Beyond" in 1999. He died in 2013, aged 91, from complications caused by Alzheimer's disease.

David Warner (Ra's al Ghul)

A nearly-immortal mystical villain, Ra's al Ghul is the one man in "Batman: The Animated Series" who really gave the Dark Knight a run for his money. Thankfully, his voice actor, David Warner, also possessed the presence and commanding prowess to go toe-to-toe with the inimitable Kevin Conroy, and he turned up in some of the show's best episodes. Warner, a British character actor, has starred in a number of classics, including "The Omen," "Titanic," and "Tron."

Often cast for his ability to be both intimidating and gentle in equal measure, Warner has played villains and heroes alike. In "Star Trek: The Next Generation," he played the despicable Gul Madred in the acclaimed two-parter, "Chain of Command," and the unlikely Klingon peacemaker Gorkon in "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country." Mostly known for supporting roles, he won an Emmy Award for his part as Pomponius Falco in the 1980 miniseries, "Masada."

Like many in the cast of "Batman: The Animated Series," Warner's work on the show began a career in voice acting that later included "Spider-Man: The Animated Series," "Gargoyles," and many more. One of his last major live-action roles was Admiral Boom in 2018's "Mary Poppins Returns." Warner died of cancer in July 2022. He was 80 years old. In a statement, his family described him as "a kind-hearted, generous and compassionate man, partner and father, whose legacy of extraordinary work has touched the lives of so many over the years."

Henry Silva (Bane)

Introduced in the comics in 1993, a year after "Batman: The Animated Series" began airing, Bane was a foreign-born brute who used a special serum to make himself super strong. With that power, he famously broke Batman's back in one of the most shocking storylines of the era. Within a year, Bane arrived in cartoon form, and producers didn't mess around, hiring legendary Spanish-American actor Henry Silva to play him. 

A well-regarded character actor who got his start in the 1950s, Silva had roles in "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Ocean's 11" in the 1960s. He was often cast as a villain in Westerns, thanks to his steely gaze and grim voice, showing up in "The Bravados" opposite Gregory Peck and "Ride a Crooked Trail" with Audie Murphy. By the '80s he played various thugs and henchmen in a string of action movies, appearing in "Cannonball Run II," "Megaforce" and "Escape from the Bronx."

Silva was the perfect choice for Bane, terrifying and unfeeling. He voiced the character twice more in episodes of "Superman: The Animated Series" and "The New Batman Adventures." He died at 95 in September 2022.