The Legacy of Arleen Sorkin: Was She the Inspiration for Harley Quinn?

Arleen Sorkin, a former “Days of Our Lives” actress and voice actor, passed away on August 27, 2023, at 67. In the Batman animated series, Sorkin was known for her iconic role as Harley Quinn, the Joker’s love interest and sidekick. However, there has been much debate over the years about whether Sorkin was the character’s inspiration.

The Creation of Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn was created by writer Paul Dini and artist Bruce Timm for the “Batman: The Animated Series” in 1992. The character was initially intended to be a one-time villain in the episode “Joker’s Favor.” Still, her popularity among fans made her a recurring character and eventually a staple of the Batman universe.

According to Dini, the inspiration for Harley Quinn came from a combination of sources. He had been watching many classic films, including “The Maltese Falcon” and “Casablanca,” and was drawn to the idea of a female character who was both funny and dangerous. He also wanted to create a character who could serve as a foil to the Joker and who could humanize him in some way.

The Role of Arleen Sorkin

Arleen Sorkin was a close friend of Paul Dini’s and had worked with him previously on “Days of Our Lives.” Sorkin suggested that Dini watch “Casablanca,” which ultimately led to the creation of Harley Quinn.

However, while Sorkin may have been the catalyst for Harley Quinn’s creation, it is unclear whether she was the direct inspiration for the character. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Dini stated that while Sorkin’s personality and sense of humor undoubtedly influenced the surface, he had also drawn from other sources, such as his own experiences in therapy.

Furthermore, while Sorkin provided the voice for Harley Quinn in the animated series, the character’s physical appearance was based on a design by Bruce Timm; in an interview with Syfy Wire, Timm stated that he had been inspired by a jester costume that he had seen in a book and had designed the character to be both sexy and dangerous.

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