Ultimate Guide to the Many Voices of the Joker

Ultimate Guide to Three Decades of Joker Voice ActorsPerhaps more than any other animated character, the Joker inspires amazing creativity from the actors who play him. Joker voice actors tend to really give it their all.He’s been portrayed by nearly two dozen voice actors over the decades, and many of them have poured their hearts and souls into creating a unique new spin.
His blend of comedy, chaos, and outright menace is what makes the Clown Prince of Crime such an enduring character. Many voice over artists feel honored to embody that blend.

Many people would consider Mark Hamill to be the ultimate voice of the Joker. However, there have been other actors whose portrayals were nearly as impressive. As fans of voice acting, animation, and of course of the Joker himself, we’ve compiled all of them here. We’ve included historical information on the cartoons, many of which are very old or even obscure. There’s even information on the actors and where their spins on the character might have originated.

Enjoy flipping through this guide, or read it front to back. We’ll keep this updated as the Joker (and his laugh!) appear in more animated content over time. Be sure to check back when you’re done with Justice League ActionLEGO Batman: The Movie, or whatever new DC feature you’re looking forward to.

Joker Voice Actors #1 – Larry Storch

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  • Played the Joker in: The Batman/Superman Hour (1968-1969)
  • The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972)

Sound Bite

The very first voice actor to give life to the Joker was Larry Storch (b. 1923) in the classic Filmation series The Adventures of Batman (aka The Batman/Superman Hour). Filmation was the only serious competitor to Hanna-Barbera in the 60s and 70s, and were arguably more influential in terms of bringing beloved characters to the screen.

Where Hanna-Barbera created countless original characters, many of whom became iconic for their distinctive voices and catchphrases (Hey-hey Boo-boo!), Filmation largely focused on what would today be called licensed material. The studio produced cartoons based on Archie Bunker, Star Trek, live-action films like Journey to the Center of the Earth, and of course, DC Comics characters.

If you’re a fan of animation and haven’t watched any of the Filmation DC stuff, you’re really missing out. Viewed today, The Adventures of Batman is, simply put, a trip. Firmly rooted in the Golden Age of Comics, the art is a Sprang fan’s dream. Loud, bombastic, clean, and bold, they perfectly express a lost era of comics that in modern continuity only surfaces in the form of parody.

And the voices matched! Filmation had the chance to add something genuinely new to the Batman lore; what did these characters sound like? It was a heavy burden, and one they took seriously. Stand-up comedian Larry Storch was chosen to bring provide the voice of the Joker.

In perhaps one of the first instances of celebrity casting, Storch was already very well established as a comedian and impressionist when he auditioned for the Joker. He had opened for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, been on the radio, and had even hosted his own TV variety show in 1953. Storch first entered the world of voice acting in the early 60s, voicing well-known characters such as Phineas J. Whoopie on Underdog and Koko the Clown in a series of shorts.

Storch brought those comedy sensibilities to the voice of the Joker, performing the Clown Prince as a something of a cross between a Prohibition-era mobster and a Vaudeville prankster. There’s a great deal of James Cagney in the Filmation Joker. It’s a little surprising that he never got to utter the line “You dirty bat!”.

(Fun fact: James Cagney never actually said that line. It was concocted by impressionists. Similarly, Cary Grant never actually said his oft-quoted catchphrase “Judy, Judy, Judy.” That was a rumor spread by a joker doing an impression of him… Larry Storch.)

Mumbly and a little drunk, the Filmation Joker has the voice of a dangerously unbalanced man who just had a little too much fun at the bar. It’s actually one of the most menacing Joker performances around. It’s realistic and it reminds you of someone you’ve probably met on a night out… and given a wide berth. The lisp and the lack of enunciation make it entirely believable, in a way that’s surprising to see in a 60s cartoon.

Storch brought a lot to the vocal performance of the Joker, and most of all, he originated the laugh. Come back here after listening to the other laughs, and it’s immediately apparent that all other Joker voice actors, from Mark Hammill to John DiMaggio, owe Larry Storch a great deal.

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