Richard Lawrence Hatch (May 21, 1945 – February 7, 2017) was an American actor, writer, and producer. Hatch began his career as a stage actor, before moving on to television work in the 1970s. Hatch is best known for his role as Captain Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica television series.
Early life and career
Hatch was born on May 21, 1945 in Santa Monica, California. While in high school, he aspired to become an athlete in pole vaulting, and only had a passing interest in acting, as he considered himself too shy and insecure. The assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, while Hatch had just started college, turned him towards acting; he had been enrolled in a required oral interpretation course at the time, and following the assassination, presented an article written about Kennedy upon which he said: “As I began to read this article, 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.”
Hatch began his theatrical career with the Los Angeles Repertory Theater, as well as shows in Chicago and Off-Broadway.
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 the 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.
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 had played Inspector Steve Keller) who had left the series that year. Though the role was for only 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.
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. Hatch led an effort to revive the series. However, his vision was ultimately passed over in favor of Ronald D. Moore‘s re-imagined Battlestar Galactica in which Hatch guest starred as Tom Zarek.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Hatch made guest appearances on such series as Hotel, Murder, She Wrote, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Baywatch, Dynasty, and MacGyver. In 1990, Hatch returned to daytime soap operas and appeared on Santa Barbara, originating the character Steven Slade. 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 to 2009.
In 2013, Hatch made his guest appearance in an adult-oriented episode of The Eric Andre Show on Cartoon Network‘s Adult Swim.
Hatch made several low-key theatrical film releases, including 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. He starred with Leif Garrett in Party Line (1988).
Battlestar Galactica revival attempt
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 reportedly remortgaged his house to make the trailer, was bitterly disappointed by this turn of events and was highly critical of the prospective new series.
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”.
Battlestar Galactica re-imagining
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.”
Alongside his attempts to revive the original Battlestar Galactica, Hatch created his own space opera entitled The Great War of Magellan.
Hatch portrayed Jan Berry in the 1978 television biopic “Deadman’s Curve”, which depicted the lives of rock and roll musicians Jan and 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 appeared in as himself. The series was 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.
With various co-authors, Hatch wrote a series of seven tie-in novels set in the original Battlestar Galactica universe.
- Armageddon (August 1, 1997)
- Warhawk (September 1, 1998)
- Resurrection (July 1, 2001)
- Rebellion (July 1, 2002)
- Paradis (July 1, 2003)
- Destiny (June 29, 2004)
- Redemption (November 25, 2005)
Hatch died on February 7, 2017 from pancreatic cancer under hospice care in Los Angeles, aged 71. He is survived by his brother John and his son Paul.