Following Kevin Conroy‘s sudden death due to cancer on Thursday, fans of the actor known for voicing Batman for decades are remembering the time he embodied a superhero in real life by helping to feed first responders and other volunteers after 9/11.
In the week that followed the terrorist attack on 9/11, New York City had asked its citizens to volunteer in the recovery effort. Though Conroy wanted to help in some capacity, he was told by the volunteer line that they didn’t need any more tunnellers or diggers. However, they did need people with restaurant experience to help feed first responders and other volunteers.
“I’m an actor. Of course, I have restaurant experience,” Conroy recalled with a laugh in a 2008 interview with Comic Book Club (per SlashFilm).
Conroy put his cooking skills to work by volunteering at Nino’s, a restaurant a few blocks from Ground Zero. In I Know That Voice, a 2013 documentary about famous voice actors, Conroy recalled how people were in disbelief about the fact that he was the actor who brought the Dark Knight to life in Batman: The Animated Series.
“We were getting all these hundreds of meals ready. And this one guy in the middle of the night, three nights into this, he goes, ‘so my day job is I’m an architect. What’s your day job?’ And I says, ‘well I do voices mostly.'”
The other volunteer immediately exclaimed “I knew it! You’re the guy who does Batman! You’re that Kevin Conroy.” However, it wasn’t as easy to convince the entire dining hall of that fact. Conroy explained that when his architect friend announced to the sullen crowd that Batman was cooking their meal, people were in disbelief, with a person in the back shouting “make him prove it!” in response.
“So I’m in the back kitchen, and I do from the back kitchen, ‘I am vengeance, I am the night, I am Batman!'”
After that, the crowd exploded with exclamations and laughter after a long silence, with Conroy’s architect friend later proclaiming him “to be Santa Clause.”
The clip where Conroy recounted this story was shared on social media following the actor’s death.
“It’s one of my favorite stories he told about the power of his talents. Rest In Peace Mr. Conroy,” one Twitter user wrote.
“He really was Batman to so many of us. He truly is a legend 🦇” another Twitter user wrote.
“What an amazing man,” another commentator wrote while sharing a panel from the autobiographical story Conroy penned as part of DC Pride #1, “Finding Batman.”
“We lost a mighty human today,” another DC fanatic wrote while also correctly calling Conroy the definitive Batman.
“A true hero, the one true Batman,” another user wrote while sharing a poignant image of the Bat-Signal.
For one DC fan, Conroy’s portrayal of the Dark Knight represented “a major part of my childhood,” a sentiment we certainly resonate with.
Rest in peace, Kevin Conroy.