In memorium of Arleen Sorkin, beloved Harley Quinn actress

By Farah Bassyouni Sep 25, 2023

One would struggle to find someone in their daily life who has not heard of Harley Quinn.  From comics, to movies, to video games, Harley has found herself prominently in many genres of media.  However, it was not always this way.  Harley has only existed for roughly 37% percent of Batman’s history, making her debut in Batman: The Animated Series.  Who is to thank for bringing us the character of Harleen Quinzel?  Arleen Sorkin not only voiced Harley back in 1992, but served as the inspiration for the character.  Sadly, Arleen passed away on August 24th of this year.  

How did Sorkin inspire the creation of Harley Quinn many might wonder?  She portrayed the character of Calliope Jones on Days of Our Lives mainly from 1984-1990, but also during 1992, 2006, and 2010.  It was during her time on the show that in a dream sequence, Arleen played an enthusiastic, high-pitched harlequin inspired version of her character.  When Paul Dini, writer and producer of Batman: The Animated Series, was struggling to come up with new characters for the show, Arleen made a VHS tape of the performance and gave it to Dini.  He then made the character basing it entirely on said performance.  Dini stated, “I was like, well, there she is…She should run around with the Joker dressed like that.”  (Entertainment Weekly, 2017, para. 12).  When it came time to cast an actor in the role, no other than Sorkin herself was casted.

I personally owe much to Arleen for this seemingly small event.  Without her inspiring and bringing the character to life with her vocal performance, I would be left without my favorite comfort character in all of media.  For this, I will be eternally thankful for not only her outstanding work, but for her herself.  Whether it was live action, television, or video games, Arleen made sure to deliver an outstanding, iconic job regardless.  Often it is an exaggeration to say an entire character would not exist without a singular person, but in this instance it would very much be the case if Arleen had not given that VHS tape to Dini.  May Arleen Sorkin rest in peace, and may her family and loved ones grieve peacefully. 


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