Kevin Conroy, Voice of Batman for a Generation, Dies at 66

Actor Kevin Conroy, best known as the voice of Batman in numerous projects for the past 30 years, died Nov. 10 from cancer at the age of 66.

Conroy began voicing the Caped Crusader with the debut of “Batman: The Animated Series” in 1992 and would go on to play the superhero in nearly 60 different productions spanning 15 animated series, 15 movies and two dozen video games, accounting for nearly 400 episodes and 100 hours of television.

Born Nov. 30, 1955 in Westbury, NY, and raised in Westport, Conn., Conroy began establishing himself in the acting community while under the tutelage of John Houseman at The Julliard School — where he studied alongside the likes of Christopher Reeve, Frances Conroy, and his roommate Robin Williams. 

Conroy began his career following his love of the theater, keeping him on stage in both New York and at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.

“Batman: The Animated Series” would last for three seasons, but also spawned the acclaimed theatrical film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm in 1993, as well as direct-to-video spinoffs such as 1998’s Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero and 2003’s Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.

“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 Emmy Award winning casting/dialogue director Andrea Romano. “Kevin’s warm heart, delightfully deep laugh and pure love of life will be with me forever.”

The series also gave rise to a franchise of animated shows based on DC Comics heroes in which he continued to voice Batman, including “Superman: The Animated Series,” “Justice League,” “Justice League Unlimited,” “Static Shock” and “The Zeta Project.” He also voiced the older Bruce Wayne in “Batman Beyond,” yet another entry in the DC animated franchise, which also had a direct-to-video movie, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.

“Kevin brought a light with him everywhere,” said Paul Dini, producer of “Batman: The Animated Series.” “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. A hero in every sense of the word. Irreplaceable. Eternal.”

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Conroy later voiced Batman in several releases from the DC Universe line of animated movies, including 2008’s “Batman: Gotham Knight,” a tie-in to the theatrical release of The Dark Knight; the “Superman/Batman” movies Public Enemies in 2009 and Apocalypse in 2010; 2012’s Justice League: Doom; 2013’s Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox; 2014’s Batman: Assault on Arkham, a Suicide Squad movie; and 2016’s Batman: The Killing Joke. The DC Universe franchise also revisited the earlier DC animated series continuity with 2017’s Batman and Harley Quinn and 2019’s Justice League vs. The Fatal Five. He also voiced Batman in episodes of “Teen Titans Go!,” “Justice League Action” and “Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?.”

In 2019 he played a live-action version of Bruce Wayne in an alternate reality for the CW’s Arrowverse crossover event “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” during what was technically an episode of “Batwoman.”

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His video game work included 2001’s Batman: Vengeance, the “Arkham” and “Injustice” franchises, Lego DC Super-Villains, and 2022’s MultiVersus, his final performance as the character.

His role as Batman also made him a popular fixture on the convention circuit.

“Kevin was perfection,” said Mark Hamill, who played the Joker opposite Conroy’s Batman on “Batman: The Animated Series” and The Killing Joke. “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.”

His non-Batman work included a two-episode stint on “Cheers,” guest appearances on shows such as “Murphy Brown” and “Dynasty,” and voice roles including “The New Adventures of Captain Planet,” “The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest,” “Ben 10: Alien Force,” “The Venture Bros.” and “Masters of the Universe: Revelation.”

“Kevin was a brilliant actor,” Hamill said. “For several generations, he has been the definitive Batman. It was one of those perfect scenarios where they got the exact right guy for the exact right part, and the world was better for it. His rhythms and subtleties, tones and delivery — that all also helped inform my performance. He was the ideal partner — it was such a complementary, creative experience. I couldn’t have done it without him. He will always be my Batman.”

Former Columbia TriStar Home Video President Pat Campbell Dies

Former Columbia TriStar Home Video president Walter Patrick “Pat” Campbell has died.

Campbell, of East Hampton, N.Y., passed away on March 28, according to an announcement in the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was 76.

Pat Campbell (Prayer card photo)

Campbell was president of what is now Sony Pictures Home Entertainment from 1989 until 1994. He began his tenure there in 1984 when he was asked to head the recently formed entertainment joint venture between RCA and Columbia Pictures, RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video, to distribute tapes overseas. He was named worldwide president in 1989 and remained at the helm after the company’s 1991 rebranding to Columbia TriStar Home Video. Top VHS releases during Campbell’s presidency included Total Recall, Flatliners, Misery, Boyz n the Hood, Ghostbusters II and Sex, Lies and Videotape.

In an interview with the LaSalle University Winter Magazine in 1997, 30 years after he graduated from the school with an undergraduate degree in political science, Campbell said RCA/Columbia was a unique business because it acquired as well as produced movies. “We took the video company worldwide,” Campbell said. “We were the only ones that had more revenue overseas than we did domestic because we recognized that there was a tremendous overseas market. We were number one in market share even though the flow of products from our studio was number seven. I was very proud of that. And we also developed some people who are now very significant in the entertainment business.”

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Campbell said his most difficult challenge was “dealing with the talent.” “At one point we were producing about 20 films a year and buying hundreds of others around the world,” he told the LaSalle Winter Magazine. “Generally when you’re dealing with first-time talent it’s fairly easy. But boy, when they have a success or two, that took all of your wits and patience.” 

In the interview, Campbell said that while his division enjoyed a string of successful VHS releases, there also was one big miss. A staffer woke him early one morning at the Cannes Film Festival to watch a rough cut of an independent film partially subtitled in American Indian. “By about 9:30, I hadn’t had breakfast and I was hungry,” Campbell told the publication. “I said, ‘There’s no way I want to touch this film.’ And we walked away from it.”

That film was Dances with Wolves.

“He was respected by his team and innovative in the area of making independent films for the home video marketplace,” said Ben Feingold, CEO of Samuel Goldwyn Films, who succeeded Campbell as president of Columbia TriStar Home Video in 1994.

Campbell left Columbia TriStar in January 1994 to join Ameritech, one of seven Regional Bell Operating Companies, or “Baby Bells,” created following the breakup of AT&T in 1984. As EVP of corporate strategy and business development, he helped negotiate the $81 billion merger of Ameritech and SBC Communications, one of the largest corporate mergers in history at that time. The Winter 1997-98 edition of the LaSalle Winter Magazine called Campbell “one of the key players on the Information Superhighway.”

In an interview with Supermarket News, Campbell talked about tech companies recruiting home video executives. “The reality is the information superhighway is coming and is going to be an exciting, vibrant thing to work on, but it is a ways into the future,” he said. “Video is an incredibly important aspect of the entertainment business right now.”

Campbell was born on Feb. 9, 1946, in Philadelphia. A 1967 graduate of LaSalle University with an undergraduate degree in political science, he began his career at Proctor-Silex in Philadelphia and later held a series of progressively more responsible positions at McGraw Edison, and Norelco.

Campbell is survived by his wife, Kathleen Campbell; daughter Megan Officer and her husband, Graham; daughter Kristin Doble and her husband, Hunter; and grandchildren Campbell and Colin Officer and Katharine, Emily and Graham Doble.

Following his retirement, Campbell continued to serve on the board of directors of Jefferies Financial Group and Black and Veatch, according to the announcement.

There will be a Celebration of Life for him on April 3 from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Flourtown Country Club in Flourtown, Penn.

Pay-TV Research Pioneer Paul Kagan Dies

Paul Kagan, whose Carmel. Calif.-based cable TV research firm, Paul Kagan & Associates, morphed into one of the industry’s top analysis companies, has died at the age of 82. Kagan’s family, in an online obituary, announced his passing on Aug. 23 of kidney failure.

Kagan devised ways to value pay-TV operators and media companies beyond their profit-and-loss statements. His company at one time published 38 newsletters and held myriad industry confabs annually. In 2000, Kagan sold his firm to Primedia, launching PK Worldwide Media. MCG Capital subsequently acquired the company, renaming it Kagan Research LLC. It was later sold to SNL Financial and renamed Kagan, a unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence. Kagan was named to The Cable Center Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Industry Veteran Herb Dorfman, Former Head of Orion Home Video, Dies at 77

Herb Dorfman, the former president of home entertainment at Orion Pictures, died Feb. 25 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

He was 77.

He is survived by his daughter, Alexandra Nickson (Nick Nickson), his grandchildren, Casey and Avery Nickson, his son, Eryq Dorfman, and his sister, Gail Greene (Marvin Greene).

Herb Dorfman

Nickson, SVP of TV Music at Dreamworks, says what she remembers best of her late father is “his passion and dedication to his profession, and how proud he was of me and my own personal success in music.”

Dorfman ran home entertainment at Orion Pictures from October 1987 until December 1996, on the eve of the studio’s sale to MGM. Considered a leading “mini major,” Orion during Dorfman’s tenure maintained a steady presence near the top of the home video charts at a time when success was measured by how many cassettes studios sold to video rental dealers, at up to $100 per cassette.

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Home video success during the Dorfman years came through such theatrical blockbusters as Mississippi Burning (1988), Dances with Wolves (1990) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991), the two latter films winning Best Picture Oscars.

Orion also had its share of theatrical flops, with films like the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic Great Balls of Fire and the dark comedy She-Devil, with Meryl Streep and Roseanne Barr, although they invariably wound up doing good business in rental stores as well.

Dorfman was considered a savvy and strategic marketer. Variety reported in December 1993, “Orion Home Video announced an unprecedented all-out promotional campaign for the video [release] of the beleaguered, lawsuit-prone Boxing Helena.”

Dorfman told the trade publication that the company “would embark on a megamarketing drive that would include mailing 16,000 screeners of the [film to video distributors] around the country. Helmer and scripter Jennifer Chambers Lynch and star Julian Sands also have agreed to do a promotional tour for vid distribs and dealers for the Feb. 23 homevid release — another unprecedented move for a vidcassette.”

Dorfman told Variety, “We want VCR users around the country to be able to understand more about the intricacies and the love affair you can have with a film of this caliber.”

The film, about a doctor who surgically removes the limbs of a voluptuous woman, earned only $2 million during its domestic theatrical run.

In April 1995, Supermarket News reported, “Jessica Lange’s Academy Award-winning performance in Blue Sky has greatly increased interest in the videotape, according to Orion Pictures. The PG-13 rated movie earned under $3 million at the box office, but nearly $9 million in video orders….” Dorfman told Supermarket News, “This is unprecedented at Orion.”

After Orion’s sale to MGM, Dorfman remained in the business, serving as president and CEO of his own firm, Steeplechase Entertainment Corp., from January 1997 to July 2009, and then serving as general manager of Porchlight Home Entertainment from August 2009 to January 2012.

Herbert Neil Dorfman was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Aug. 5, 1942. He spent his youth on the boardwalk in Coney Island, selling hotdogs and hanging out with friends at Steeplechase Park.

He later studied business administration at Brooklyn College, graduating in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

He began his career in record distribution sales, a job that took him all over the East Coast. He later served as SVP at budget record label Pickwick Distribution Companies from September 1980 to November 1984 and VP of sales and marketing at The Moss Music Group Inc. from January 1985 to September 1987.

His job with Orion brought him to Los Angeles, where he lived at the time of his death.

A memorial will be led by Rabbi Jay Seigal of Temple Beth Shalom at the Nickson residence in Santa Clarita, Calif. on Sunday, March 29, at 1 p.m.

Please email his daughter, Alexandra Nickson, at alexandranickson16@gmail.com for location details and other information.