An Internet rumor that actor Dirk Benedict had died has been making the rounds of Facebook and Twitter. Fortunately, this rumor is false. Unfortunately, the truth is that his Battlestar Galactica co-star, Richard Hatch, has succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 71.
Actor and author Richard Hatch was best known for his involvement in the Battlestar Galactica series. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Captain Apollo, the brave son of Commander Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica in 1979. He wrote or co-wrote several books set twenty yahrens after the events of the TV show, ignoring (as most people did) Galactica 1980, as well as editing So Say We All: Collected Thoughts and Opinions on Battlestar Galactica. He also co-wrote a roleplaying guide set in the Magellanic Cloud. And in the rebooted series in the early 21st century, he returned to the BSG universe as Tom Zarek.
Captain Apollo was young, handsome, and responsible, the eldest of Commander Adama’s three children. A skilled Viper pilot, he was the leader of Blue Squadron. His best friend was the silver-tongued, reckless Lieutenant Starbuck (played by Dirk Benedict), who sometimes dated Apollo’s sister Athena. He was stepfather to Boxey, a stowaway expert who grew up to be Captain Troy in Galactica 1980. Tom Zarek, on the other hand, was a politician turned terrorist turned politician again.
Richard Hatch said of Zarek: “Having played Zarek for the past four years I would like to say that never did I play this character as a villain nor did I think he was one and I still feel that way. …. I feel privileged to have been a part of this wonderful series and I truly loved playing Tom Zarek. One of the most flawed, complex and misunderstood characters I’ve ever played.”
Hatch made over 100 TV and film appearances, in addition to his work in plays and on radio. He won an Obie for his work in the play PS Your Cat is Dead. In addition to BSG, he appeared in science fiction roles in Prisoners of the Lost Universe, Alien Hunger, InAlienable, The Dragons of Melgor, and his final role in Diminuendo. His best-known non-science fiction roles were as Inspector Dan Robbins in The Streets of San Francisco, Johnse Hatfield in The Hatfields and the McCoys, Philip Brent in All My Children, Jan Berry in Deadman’s Curve, Lee Chan, Jr. in Charlie Chan and the Dragon Queen, and Stephen Slade in Santa Barbara.
Of particular note was Hatch’s role in the ill-fated Star Trek fan film Prelude to Axanar, the 20 minute prequel to what was to have been a feature length motion picture. The Axanar production team had just won an almost Pyrrhic victory in court and the right to make two more fifteen minute installments to the story, but a shadow is now cast upon the future of this effort is now in question with the death of Hatch, who played the Klingon Supreme Commander Kharn.
Richard Lawrence Hatch was born May 21, 1945, in Santa Monica, California. He died of pancreatic cancer in Santa Clarita, CA, February 7, 2017. He is survived by his son Paul and his brother John.