In Memoriam: Richard Hatch, Golden Globe Nominee, 1945-2017

by Yoram Kahana February 9, 2017
Actor Richard Hatch, Golden Globe nominee

yoram kahana/hfpa

Richard Hatch, Golden Globe nominee for his best known role as Captain Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica series has died, age 71. The multi-talented Hatch was an actor, writer and producer who started on stage and moved to a long and successful career on the small screen. 

Hatch was born on May 21, 1945 in Santa Monica, California. He was a high school athlete, a pole vaulter, with only a passing interest in acting. The 1963 assassination of President Kennedy motivated him to become an actor. Having just entered college, he took a required oral interpretation course, and wrote and delivered a piece about Kennedy assassination.  "As I began to read this article", he told an interviewer. "I got so affected by what I was saying that I forgot myself. I was expressing feelings and emotions I tended to keep locked inside of myself."

Stage work in New York led in 1970 to a two-year stint on the daytime soap opera All My Children, followed by roles in primetime series and movies for television in Hollywood. 

Hatch's first major TV role was in 1976, as Inspector Dan Robbins on the hit detective series The Streets of San Francisco, replacing Michael Douglas, who had left the series that year. His award winning performance brought Hatch to the attention of prolific producer Glen A. Larson, who launched a sci-fi series, Battlestar Galactica (1978-9). The series lasted only one season but garnered two Golden Globe nominations: for the show as Best Series-Drama, and for Hatch, as Best Actor.

The series caught the zeitgeist: the 1970s saw space exploration go beyond the moon, with the first space station, first landing on Mars, probes and fly-bys reaching Saturn, Venus, Mercury and Jupiter. Space launches of Pioneer, Mariner, Voyager made constant headlines. Likewise, Galactica  went into the far reaches of space - the leaders of the Twelve Colonies of Mankind, somewhere in the deepest corners of space, are making plans to sign a peace treaty with their mortal enemies, the Cylon Empire. On the eve of the ceremony, the Cylons betray the pact and destroy most of the Colonies and their entire fleet. Under Commander Adama, the spaceship Battlestar Galactica leads the remaining Colonial fleet into space, seeking out a lost thirteenth colony, which turns out to be Earth.

The Commander was veteran actor Lorne Greene, the patriarch of a frontier family in the long-running TV series Bonanza, nominated twice for a Globe (in 1964, for the series itself and for Greene as Best TV Star- Male). The two young Galactica stars next to Greene were Dirk Benedict, (who later joined The A-Team) and Hatch.

After Galactica Hatch guested on several popular TV shows, but never lost his interest in space-themed projects. He wanted Universal Studios, the franchise holder, to revive the series as a sequel, but Universal opted to create a re-imagined Galactica. It aired in 2003 on the SyFy channel, with Hatch given a new role as Tom Zarek, a terrorist turned politician who spent 20 years in prison for blowing up a government building. He remained on board for the duration of the show, from 2004 to 2009.

Hatch appeared in several space-themed movies, mostly low budget, some spoofing the concept.  He co-wrote a series of novels based on Galactica, created a space opera, and appeared in sci-fi conventions and events.

Hatch died  from pancreatic cancer under hospice care in Los Angeles, “Richard Hatch, you made our universe a better place,” wrote Edward James Olmos, who starred in the reboot. “We love you for it. Rest in Peace my friend. So Say We All.”