Veteran screen and voice actor Bob Hastings has passed away from prostate cancer at the age of 89, ABC News is reporting. Hastings is best known to people of our generation for his portrayal of Commissioner James Gordon on Batman: The Animated Series and other Warner/DC animated projects. The actor also appeared on live action television programs like All in the Family and Green Acres, and McHale’s Navy on which he was a series regular. His televisual body of work dated all the way back to 1949 with an appearance on Captain Video and his Video Rangers.
Hastings’ voice work included portraying Superboy in various 1960s television cartoons, the voice of the Raven on The Munsters, and bit roles in Challenge of the SuperFriends. It was, however, his role as Commissioner Gordon that made his stern yet welcoming voice a mainstay to kids in the 1990s.
It was only two months ago that Efrem Zimbalist Jr., the voice of Alfred Pennyworth, passed away. Both actors imbued their respective characters with the kind of fatherly kindness that Batman needed in his life. Hastings’ Gordon, unlike Zimbalist’s Alfred, also had the everyman heroism that the character really needed. Until Gary Oldman’s portrayal in the Nolan films, and even still after, Hastings was the definitive James Gordon, not bumbling or useless like he’d often been depicted in the 1960s TV series or the Burton/Schumacher films. You always felt at ease when Gordon showed up in TAS and you felt like Gotham City was in good hands.