Arleen Sorkin, who portrayed Calliope Jones on the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives and served as the original voice of the DC Comics character Harley Quinn, had died. She was 67.
Sorkin died Thursday, a source told The Hollywood Reporter. Health issues kept her from acting in recent years.
DC boss James Gunn wrote on Instagram Saturday: “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.”
Mark Hamill, who often recorded his lines as the Joker opposite Sorkin, also remembered her in a tribute, writing: “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.”
Harley Quinn was intended to be a one-episode character when she debuted on Batman: The Animated Series in the 1992 episode “Joker’s Favor,” which introduced her as a henchwoman to Hamill’s Joker.
Paul Dini, Harley Quinn co-creator and Batman writer, was a college friend of Sorkin’s and said he was inspired to cast her after being home sick one day and catching her on an episode of Days of Our Lives, in which she played a harlequin in a dream sequence.
“I thought about a character kind of like her persona at the time, which was the snappy, wisecracking blonde,” Dini told THR in 2016.
The character proved to be a hit, and Sorkin returned for eight more episodes and reprised the role for video games, animated movies and animated series over the years, including Gotham Girls, Justice League, The Batman Superman Movie: World’s Finest and more.
“I would sing in the car on the way to work — ‘Adelaide’s Lament’ from Guys and Dolls. And when I got there, I was ready,” Sorkin told THR in 2016. “Adelaide from Guys and Dolls is someone I always wanted to play. So it was very easy for me to find Harley’s voice. But I made her even more extreme.”
Harley Quinn has grown to become internationally known, with Margot Robbie portraying her on the big screen.
Tara Strong, who went on to voice Harley Quinn in other iterations, called Sorkin “the inspiration & the heart & soul of this iconic character.”
Born on Oct. 14, 1955, in Washington, Sorkin worked in a comedy troupe and as a cabaret performer in the 1970s and ’80s, then played Jones on Days of Our Lives from 1984-90, with return engagements in 1992, 2001, 2006 and 2010.
Her other acting credits include Duet, Open House, Dream On, Ted & Venus, I Don’t Buy Kisses Anymore and Frasier. From 1990-92, she co-hosted America’s Funniest People alongside Dave Coulier.
Sorkin also served as a writer and producer on the TV shows How to Marry a Billionaire and Fired Up, co-wrote the 1997 film Picture Perfect and penned two episodes for Tiny Toon Adventures.
Survivors include her husband, producer-writer Christopher Lloyd, and their two children.