Actor Richard Hatch of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ Dies at 71

Actor Richard Hatch, who played Captain Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica film and TV series, has died after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

His manager Michael Kaliski said Hatch, 71, died with his son Paul by his side.

Hatch began working in television in 1970 when he starred as Philip Brent in the daytime soap opera All My Children, a role he played for two years. For some years, he then made guest appearances in primetime series such as Cannon, Nakia, Barnaby Jones, Hawaii Five-O, and The Waltons, as well as appearing in several made-for-TV movies such as The Hatfields and McCoys with Jack Palance, Addie and the King of Hearts with Jason Robards, Last of the Belles with Susan Sarandon, and the 1978 TV movie Deadman’s Curve in which he portrayed Jan Berry of the musical duo Jan and Dean.

Hatch in a publicity photo for The Streets of San Francisco (1977) By Quinn-Martin Productions

In 1976, Hatch gained his first major television role as Inspector Dan Robbins on the detective series The Streets of San Francisco, a replacement for Michael Douglas (who played Insp. Steve Keller) who had left the series that year. Though the role was only for one season, Hatch won Germany’s Bravo Youth Magazine Award for the role. Following this, he had a recurring role on the series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, also for one season. By this time, Hatch had become something of a pin-up and regularly appeared in teen-oriented magazines such as Teen Beat, 16 Magazine, and Tiger Beat.

Hatch then gained a starring role in Glen A. Larson’s sci-fi series, Battlestar Galactica (1978), which aired for a single season before cancellation. Hatch was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the role.

Throughout the 1980s, Hatch made guest appearances on such series as Hotel; Murder, She Wrote; The Love Boat; and Fantasy Island. In 1984, he appeared in several episodes of Dynasty, which was at the top of the ratings at the time.

In 1990, Hatch returned to daytime soap operas and appeared on Santa Barbara, originating the character Steven Slade. He continued to make guest appearances on prime time series such as Jake and the Fatman and Baywatch, but roles were becoming few and far between. His next prominent role would be as Tom Zarek in the reimagined version of Battlestar Galactica, in which he made semi-regular appearances from 2004-09.

Films

Hatch has made several low-key theatrical film releases, including Best Friends (1975), Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981), and Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983). An abridged version of the pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica was released in cinemas, initially overseas and then for a limited run in the U.S., as was a sequel film, Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack, which was also made from episodes of the series.

Hatch attempted to revive Battlestar Galactica. In the 1990s, he began writing novels based on the series, and also wrote, co-directed and executive-produced a trailer called The Second Coming in the hopes of enticing Universal Studios (the rights holders for the franchise) into producing a new series that would have been a direct continuation of the original 1978 series (ignoring the events of the failed spin-off Galactica 1980, in which Hatch did not appear). Original actors John Colicos (Baltar), Terry Carter (Col. Tigh) and Jack Stauffer (Bojay) appeared in the trailer with Hatch.

Although the trailer won acclaim at science-fiction conventions, Universal was not interested in Hatch’s vision to revive Battlestar Galactica, and instead opted for a remake rather than the sequel for which Hatch had campaigned. Hatch (who claimed to have remortgaged his house to make the trailer) was bitterly disappointed by this turn of events and was highly critical of the prospective new series on his website.

In 2004, he stated to Sci-Fi Pulse that he had felt resentment over the failure of his planned Galactica continuation and was left “exhausted and sick… I had, over the past several years, bonded deeply with the original characters and story… writing the novels and the comic books and really campaigning to bring back the show”.

Despite his resentment, Hatch developed a respect for Ronald D. Moore, the new series’ writer, and producer, when Moore appeared as a featured guest at Galacticon (the Battlestar Galactica 25th anniversary convention, hosted by Hatch) and answered questions posed by a very hostile audience.

Later, in 2004, Hatch was offered a recurring role in the new Battlestar Galactica series, which he accepted. He played Tom Zarek, a terrorist turned politician who spent twenty years in prison for blowing up a government building. After Zarek’s death, Hatch commented that “never did I play this character as a villain nor did I think he was one and I still feel that way”, and that he considered the character to be a principled figure who is driven to violence after being “blocked in every way possible” by Roslin and Adama. “Zarek, Adama and Roslin all wanted power for the same reason, to make a positive difference”.
Other work

Alongside his attempts to revive the original Battlestar Galactica, Hatch created his own space opera entitled The Great War of Magellan. He has written a comic book series and a role-playing game in support of this, and is working a novel trilogy with Brad Linaweaver (who co-authored many of Hatch’s Battlestar Galactica novels).

Hatch at Gatecon 2005 Photo by: By Jeff Hitchcock from Vancouver, BC, Canada – http://www.flickr.com/photos/arbron/115011458/, CC BY 2.0,

Hatch portrayed Jan Berry in the 1978 television biopic “Deadman’s Curve” which depicted the lives of rock and roll sensations, Jan & Dean. Hatch also appeared in InAlienable, a 2008 science fiction film written and produced by Walter Koenig. In 2011, Hatch worked on a new reality TV series called Who the Frak?, which he created and appears in as himself. The series is touted as “the world’s first social network reality drama”.

In 2012-13, Hatch appeared in the web series The Silicon Assassin Project. In 2013, he ventured into the Steampunk genre, starring in the short film Cowboys & Engines alongside Malcolm McDowell and Walter Koenig. In 2014, he played the Klingon Commander Kharn in the Star Trek fan film Prelude To Axanar and was to appear in the subsequent fan production Star Trek: Axanar in 2015.

Hatch has also made numerous television commercials and performed a variety of voice-overs. He was involved in the Star Trek fan film project Axanar and previously released short Prelude to Axanar. He played Klingon Supreme Commander Kharn in Prelude to Axanar.

Hatch died on February 7, 2017 from pancreatic cancer under hospice care in Los Angeles, aged 71.

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