Olan Soule (February 28, 1909 – February 1, 1994) was an American character actor with hundreds of credits in films, radio, commercials, television and animation, most notably as the primary television animation voice of Batman from 1968 to 1984.
Born in La Harpe in Hancock County in western Illinois to Elbert and Ann Williams Soule (descendants of three Mayflower passengers), Olan left Illinois at the age of seven and arrived in Des Moines, Iowa, where he lived until he was seventeen. He then launched his theatrical career by joining Jack Brooks' tent show in Sabula in Jackson County in eastern Iowa.
After leaving the tent show, Soule appeared on stage in Chicago for seven years before moving to radio in 1933, including a stint on Chandu the Magician (1935–36). On radio he performed for eleven years in the daytime soap opera Bachelor's Children. Beginning in 1943, he did lead male characters on radio's famed The First Nighter Program for nine years. Listeners of First Nighter who met Soule in person were often surprised, since his slight 135-pound frame did not seem to match the voices he gave to his characters. From 1941 on, Soule had the role of L. William Kelly, SS-11, the second in command of the Secret Squadron on the Captain Midnight radio adventure serial. When Captain Midnight became a television series in the 1950's, Soule was known as SQ-3, behind Captain Midnight himself and Ichabod Mudd "with two D's". He also has a regular part on Lee Hansen's 1970's and 1980s science fiction radio drama Alien Worlds.
Concluding his nine-year run on First Nighter, Soule moved to Hollywood, where he did films and television, building a reputation as a reliable character actor. He appeared on many television series: The Donald O'Connor Show (as a semi-regular), Captain Midnight (as scientist Aristotle "Tut" Jones), I Love Lucy, several appearances on The Andy Griffith Show, and a semi-regular role as real-life LAPD criminalist Ray Pinker on Dragnet (the character became "Ray Murray" in the 1967 revival). He also made six appearances on Perry Mason, mostly as a court clerk, but also as a bank employee and water company official.
Other guest-starring roles were endless: The Real McCoys, Mister Ed, City Detective, Behind Closed Doors, Dante, Harrigan and Son, Hennesey, State Trooper, One Step Beyond, The Restless Gun, The Rebel, Wanted: Dead Or Alive, The Twilight Zone, in the episode "The Man in the Bottle", Bewitched, Pete and Gladys, The Addams Family, The Munsters, Johnny Ringo, Gunsmoke,Happy, Bonanza, The Jean Arthur Show, Laramie, The Monkees, Mission: Impossible, The Six Million Dollar Man, Fantasy Island, Little House on the Prairie, Dallas and Simon & Simon. He was the only actor who performed on both the Captain Midnight radio and television shows.
Soule is remembered by many for providing the voice of Batman in several animated series. He first performed as the Caped Crusader on the 1968 Filmation-produced The Batman/Superman Hour. He reprised his role as Batman on The Adventures of Batman, The New Scooby-Doo Movies, Sesame Street (1970), Super Friends (1973), The All-New Super Friends Hour, Challenge of the SuperFriends, The World's Greatest Super Friends and Super Friends (1980). He appeared as a newscaster on the live-action Batman television series (in "The Pharaoh's in a Rut") with hisSuper Friends successor Adam West. Although Soule eventually gave the Batman mantle to the man who portrayed him in live-action, he continued to contribute in the Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show series, providing the voice of Professor Martin Stein, mentor and subconscious of fledgling hero Firestorm.
On February 1, 1994, Soule died of lung cancer in Los Angeles, California. He was 84 years old. His interment was at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery.