Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Tribute 2017: Richard Hatch (1945 - 2017)

The press is now reporting the death of Richard Hatch (1945 - 2017), the actor (and gentleman) who portrayed Captain Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979), and Tom Zarek in the rebooted version of the same property (2004 - 2009).

Richard Hatch had a long and illustrious career in Hollywood, starring in Santa Barbara (1990), and The Streets of San Francisco (1977), and guest-starring in series such as Fantasy Island, T.J. Hooker, Riptide, MacGyver and even Baywatch.

In terms of genre, Mr. Hatch also starred in the movie Prisoners of the Lost Universe (1983) and spearheaded his own property: The Great War of Magellan (2005).  

But it is for playing Captain Apollo that Mr. Hatch is best loved, at least by my generation. Mr. Hatch brought such sincerity to that role, and made Apollo a character worth admiring.

I had the great pleasure of getting to know Richard Hatch at the Main Mission Convention in New York City, in the fall of 2000.  My wife and I attended dinner at a Chinese restaurant with Mr. Hatch, Destinies host Dr. Howard Margolin, and film director Kevin Connor (Motel Hell), among others.  

We walked several blocks back to the hotel together and -- I've never forgotten it -- Mr. Hatch exuberantly jumped out into the street, acting out some crazy story.  My wife pulled him back onto the curb just in time, as a yellow cab raced by.  I told her, "you just saved Captain Apollo's life." Undaunted, Mr. Hatch went back to (exuberantly) sharing his story. The man seemed to possess boundless energy and enthusiasm.

After the convention, Mr. Hatch and I stayed in touch, and spoke on the phone several times over the next few years. We looked for awhile, for some project we could work on together, possibly one of his Battlestar books.  It was an honor to know him, and to call him friend. 

I have been planning for 2018 a look back here on the blog at Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979), in celebration of its 40th anniversary. I will still do so, but it will be bittersweet indeed to reach that benchmark without the man who made Captain Apollo such a beacon of decency, kindness, humanity and bravery.

Rest in Peace, Richard Hatch.


  1. I literally gasped when I saw this.
    Words can't even come close to expressing my feelings.
    Galactica was a part of my childhood and Apollo was one of my heroes. I never had the honor of speaking with Mr. Hatch at local conventions, but your story about him warms my heart. I will very much look forward to your retrospective, but you said it: bittersweet.
    Rest among the stars, Captain Apollo.

  2. I'll always be grateful to Richard for inviting us to join him for that dinner, John, since I spent much of it talking to you while he thumb-wrestled with my (now ex) wife. I'll also always remember walking to the restaurant while he practically skipped ahead of us down the New York City streets, with his usual boundless energy. I'm very glad that I was able to host him seven times on Destinies (once in the studio, six times on the phone), and had many conversations with him over the years, as well, including one time, in 2001, when he called while I was watching the pilot of the original Battlestar Galactica during a Sci-Fi Channel Marathon. Plus, he graciously sent a picture of himself as Captain Apollo to me, which has hung in my office for years, since he signed it "To Howard, my favorite O.D." Naturally, part of this week's Destinies will contain a tribute to Richard, with a more extensive memorial coming later in the year.

  3. Back in late 1998 early 1999, I wrote a spec script for the TV series Sliders, which was owned by Universal. The script was for season five. Lots of behind the scenes drama. I met Richard Hatch at the 1999 San Diego Comic-Con. Told him I was a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica. Loved the movie. Loved the style of the Cylons. It just seemed to connect with me more than Star Wars... anyway.. we talked about stories. And we both had issues with Universal... this was the year when Richard Hatch was passionate bringing back Battlestar Galactica. He used his own money to make a trailer.
    I attended the panel when he premiered the trailer for "Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming." There was a standing ovation. The crowd went nuts... Universal on the other hand got pissed. I happen to be sitting next to legal people from Universal... after the panel was over... Universal put out a cease and decease order. And Richard was told never allowed to show it at any conventions.. a shame. Because he put his heart and soul into it. And in context, CGI still did not look good on a budget back in 1998-1999... so that's saying something despite the trailer looking like a glorified college student project... but something about it connecting with an audience was pretty cool to witness.

    (I recall Universal sent out a bunch of their people walking to all the bootleg booths at con so NO ONE was selling the trailer...)

    Being the lead and star of the show didn't matter... he didn't own it.. Glen Larson created it and universal owned it... it was such an amazing feeling to be in that room though... anyway, I talked to him at the autograph booth... he didn't charge me to sign my record... would stop by and chat with him subsequent years.. Rest In Peace Richard Hatch. Thanks for the great memories. i still wonder how his version of Batlestar would have fared instead of the 2003 reboot made by the former Sci-Fi Channel.

  4. Literally angry when I heard the news. His Apollo really struck me as what a hero, and a man should be. I'll miss him.

  5. John, I am so glad that all of you that got the wonderful experience of meeting or being a friend of Richard Hatch as sharing your thoughts here. He will be missed and always be Captain Apollo to me.

    Rest in Peace, Richard Hatch.



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