Michael Ansara, The Voice Of Mr. Freeze On ‘Batman: The Animated Series,’ Passes Away
Michael Ansara passed away earlier this week. Over a career that spanned 55 years, the actor kept busy. He played Cochise on the 1950s television series Broken Arrow, Kane on Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, and to Star Trek fans he'll always be the Klingon Commander Kang, a character he portrayed on three different Star Trek TV series.
But to most of you who follow this site, and all of us here at ComicsAlliance, Ansara will forever be the man who gave voice to Mr. Freeze, possibly the most tragic and memorable villain on Batman: The Animated Series.
While the show is celebrated for, among other things, re-imagining and revitalizing many of the characters in Batman's rogues gallery -- focusing on the tragedy behind their origins, thus making them more sympathetic -- it's possible that description doesn't apply to any character as much as it does Dr. Victor Fries, and so much of that had to do with Ansara's brilliant voice acting. Dr. Fries, a.k.a. Mr. Freeze, existed for 33 years in the comics before "Heart of Ice," the origin episode for the character, aired in the fall of 1992. Despite the already recognizable villain having existed for over three decades, that tale immediately became the definitive Mr. Freeze story. Nearly 21 years later, Ansara's haunting cries of "Nora! Noooraaa!," as his wife is being killed and his life is changed forever, remain as emotionally affecting as they were when the episode first aired.
Written by Paul Dini and directed by Bruce Timm, "Heart of Ice" would go on to win an Emmy, and is considered by many to be the greatest episode in series history. And while Dini and Timm absolutely did masterful work, I cannot imagine it holding quite the same level of reverence in critics and fans' minds were anyone other than Ansara giving voice to Freeze, the story's sympathetic villain and victim.
Ansara's Mr. Freeze work is iconic. It spanned several episodes, as well as the under appreciated feature length tale SubZero. He'd give one last moving performance in the Batman Beyond episode "Meltdown," which would serve as the characters final appearance in the DC Animated Universe:
Michael Ansara was 91 years old.