‘Battlestar Galactica’ Legend Richard Hatch Dies At 71

By February 7, 2017

If there was anyone who was against the reimagining of Battlestar Galactica in the early 2000s, none was louder than Richard Hatch, who played Apollo in the original ABC series that debuted in 1978.

Hatch had been pushing for a Battlestar revival of his own, but television rights holder NBCUniversal had its own plans, and they called for a whole new take. Yet, Hatch still gave Ronald D. Moore’s interpretation of Glen A. Larson’s creation a chance, and would eventually join the cast as one of its most memorable recurring characters.

Richard Hatch, however, has now died. He was 71.

The news was first shared on Bleeding Cool, which said Hatch “passed into eternity” on Tuesday. TMZ said it had verified Hatch’s death with “family sources.” Many people who worked with him during his time on Syfy’s version of Battlestar quickly took to social media, including Moore who called Hatch a “good man, a gracious man, and a consummate professional.”

Edward James Olmos, who played Adm. William Adama in the series, said Hatch “made our universe a better place. While Emmy-winning composer Bear McCreary, who got his big break on Battlestar, said he still needed time to process the news.

Richard Lawrence Hatch was born May 21, 1945 in Santa Monica, California. Like many actors in the 1970s, he found early success in daytime soap operas, beginning with All My Children. That led to prime-time guest role work in shows like Hawaii Five-O and The Waltons.

He got his first major break in in 1976 when he replaced Michael Douglas for one season in The Streets of San Francisco. That got him on many producers’ radar, including Glen Larson, who was developing Battlestar Galactica at the time.

Larson would cast Hatch as Apollo, the son of Adama, who was tasked to lead a group of space-faring humans from a war-torn world to what they believed was a fictional home known as Earth. He played a fighter pilot whose closest friend was Starbuck, played by Dirk Benedict.

The show would last just a single season, but it would earn him a Golden Globe nomination. While Hatch didn’t return with the series in a watered down revival known as Galactica 1980 a couple years later, his heart would stay with the series, working to keep the show in fans’ consciousness, and push for a revival of the project.

One of his most high-profile work was the creation of a fan-trailer known as Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming, which he tried to use as a pitch for a more modern continuation that involved many of the surviving cast members from the 1978 series.

That came in the early 2000s when Bryan Singer joined forces with the Fox network to do a continuation of the show. The project, however, fell apart after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, which bounced the project back to NBCUniversal, which either had to develop something or just sit on the franchise even longer.

The studio decided to do something with it, hiring Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine alum Ronald D. Moore, who decided to start from scratch. Although he kept the same concept, and the same villains, he decided to recreate the rest. He made Adama (now known as William Adama) more military, and put the civilian aspects in the hands of the former secretary of education, Laura Roslin, played by Mary McDonnell.

Although Hatch decried the backdoor pilot before it aired, he softened his stance after seeing the television miniseries event on the former SciFi Channel, and talking with Moore about his overall views.

When SciFi opted to pick the show up for a first season, Moore offered Hatch a guest role – a political terrorist known as Tom Zarek, who would return for 21 more episodes, ending in the 2009 critically acclaimed episode “Blood on the Scales.”

Outside of Battlestar, Hatch always was working on projects both large and small. In the past year, he received some attention for his participation in a fan-film called Star Trek: Axanar, where he was set to play a Klingon named Kharn. The production was sued by CBS Studios Inc. and Paramount Pictures, the owners of the Star Trek intellectual property, and just recently settled the case out of court.

He is survived by a son, Paul Hatch.

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Michael Hinman

Michael Hinman

Managing Editor at GeekNation
Michael began what has become nearly 19 years of entertainment reporting as the founder of SyFy Portal, which would become Airlock Alpha after he sold the SyFy brand to NBC Universal. He's based out of New York City where he is the editor of a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in the Bronx.