The DC Comics brand lost a major member of its family this weekend, as Arleen Sorkin – best known for originating the role of Harley Quinn - sadly passed away at the age of 67. The actress portrayed the humorous (and somewhat dangerous) henchwoman across different productions over the years and endeared herself to audiences through her work. With that, plenty of fans have taken to social media to pay tribute to her in the wake of her passing. A number of notable Hollywood veterans are paying tribute to Sorkin as well, as former co-star Mark Hamill, James Gunn and more are honoring her.
For years, Mark Hamill played the Joker to Arleen Sorkin’s Harley Quinn, and that partnership began in the early ‘90s with Batman: The Animated Series. Whenever one heard Hamill’s pitch-perfect laugh for the maniacal madman, it was typically accompanied by a wisecrack from Arleen’s Quinn. Hamill, who replaced Tim Curry as the Clown Prince of Crime, seems to have been incredibly grateful to have worked with his late colleague. That’s the feeling one gets based on the sentimental message he shared to X (formerly Twitter):
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. 💔
The veteran actress’ passing was first reported by fellow voice actor Neil Kaplan, before THR and other trades further verified it. She had a number of acting credits to her name, with one of her most notable roles being that of Calliope Jones on soap opera Days of Our Lives. It was through that show – which she appeared on at different points between 1984 and 2010 – that BTAS writer/producer Paul Dini (a college friend of hers) was inspired to create an original character. He apparently saw an episode in which the actress appeared as a harlequin in a dream sequence and created the character of Harley Quinn with her in mind. Ultimately, the star joined the cast, and the rest is history.
While Harley was only set to appear in one episode, she was brought back multiple times. As time went on, she eventually would appear in other DC Animated Universe shows like Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League and Static Shock. The character became a pop culture icon, delighting and inspiring viewers like James Gunn. The co-head of DC Studios has frequently discussed his love for Quinn over the years. So it should’ve come as no surprise that he would pay such loving tribute to the woman who helped bring her to life decades ago. Gunn said on Instagram:
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. ❤️
The DC villain-turned-antihero made a serious impression, which is why there are currently so many TV shows and movies featuring Harley Quinn today. With that, other voice actors have taken on the role. Most prominent among them is Tara Strong, who also voiced Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in The New Batman Adventures. Strong discussed Arleen Sorkin, who hadn’t worked in a while due to health issues, on X and had nothing but kind words for her predecessor:
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 ❤️🖤 🦇
In addition to the post above, Tara Strong also said that while at Collect-A-Con, she had surreal recollections of watching the OG Harley actress in the recording booth with Mark Hamill. It certainly seems like she was in awe of the late actress, and the same goes for voice-acting veteran Jim Cummings. He also shared some thoughts about his late colleague on X:
RIP Arleen Sorkin, the original voice of #HarleyQuinn. You paved the way for an entire generation and I'll never forget our time working together ❤️
The loss of Arleen Sorkin is very surreal and, as a fan myself, I find it somewhat tough to process. Admittedly, what’s also daunting is that it comes less than a year after the death of beloved Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy. While Sorkin’s passing is a tough pill to swallow, it’s at least comforting to see people like James Gunn and Mark Hamill take the time to give her her flowers. We here at CinemaBlend also extend our condolences to her family and loved ones during this time.
Those who’d love to revisit the talented star’s work or check it out for the first time can watch many of her performances as Harley Quinn in the DCAU using a Max subscription.