Arleen Sorkin, the first one to bring life to Harley Quinn with her voice, passed away last week at 67, and tributes are pouring in from those who knew her. The first among them is a post by voice actor Neil Kaplan who was the first to break the sad news. He wrote of how much his heart is broken.
“It broke my heart to hear… the original voice of Harley Quinn, Arlene Sorkin has passed away,” Kaplan posted in full. “I adored her work as HQ & as Calliope in ‘Days of Our Lives.’” Outside of her work behind a microphone, Sorkin was a comedian with a recurring role on the long-running soap opera Day of Our Lives.
In one episode, she played a clown in a daydream that got her noticed by Batman: The Animated Series producer Paul Dini, who was working on new characters for the show. This scene gave him the inspiration for Harley Quinn and later appeared in a few frames of the 2020 Birds of Prey film as an homage to Harley’s humble beginnings.
Dini and crew made quite a few adjustments to Harley before she was ready for the page, but she has done nothing except evolve over the years. Initially, she was supposed to be a side character that wasn’t going to stick around long. History played out differently, however, and she has been with us in every form of media since.
She became The Joker’s girlfriend in a decades-long toxic relationship Harley emancipated herself from fairly recently. Mark Hamill was the voice of Mr. J for the majority of that time, and he typically stood next to Sorkin when recording his lines. The actor, just as famous for Star Wars as he is for Batman, shared his grief in a post.
“Devastated to learn we’ve lost the brilliant Arleen Sorkin. Not just a wonderful talent, but a truly wonderful person. I’m grateful not only to have worked with her but to have been her friend. Sending my heartfelt condolences to her family & loved ones,” he wrote. Hamill added a praying-hands emoji and a broken heart one to his post plus images of Sorkin and Harley.
DC Studios co-president and The Suicide Squad director James Gunn posted a requiem on the Meta-owned Twitter/X alternative, Threads.
He wrote, “Rest in Peace, Arleen Sorkin, the incredibly talented original voice of Harley Quinn, who helped to create the character so many of us love. Love to her family and friends.”
Back on X, fellow Harley voice actress Tara Strong – who took over the part in the Arkham games – said, “Without this gorgeous, talented goddess, #HarleyQuinn would have never existed. She was the inspiration & the heart & soul of this iconic character. I was in awe as #Batgirl watching her alongside @MarkHamill & Kevin. Sending love to her family #RipArleenSorkin”
Known for many television appearances beyond Batman: The Animated Series, including on Frasier, Arleen Sorkin’s career spanned decades before her retirement in 2011. Her passing comes one year after Kevin Conroy’s untimely succumbing to cancer.