RIP Richard Hatch, the Original Apollo and a Tireless Battlestar Galactica Advocate

Image: Richard Hatch as Tom Zarek, Universal
Image: Richard Hatch as Tom Zarek, Universal

Richard Hatch, who managed to star in two Battlestar Galacticas, has passed away. He was 71.


The news broke on Bleeding Cool and was confirmed by TMZ.

Hatch began his television career in the 1970s, first appearing as Philip Brent in All My Children and following it up with roles in Hawaii Five-O, The Streets of San Francisco, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. But the role we all associate with him came in 1976, when he starred in Battlestar Galactica as Captain Apollo. And even though he would never stop advocating for a proper continuation to that show, he almost didn’t take the part:

When I first got the original Battlestar script, I didn’t even want to do it. But the stupid part of it was, looking at the script with all the Ralph McQuarrie art, and seeing the character flying through the universe in one of those Vipers, the little boy in me wanting to fly through the stars ultimately said yes. When we watched the original Star Wars, didn’t we all fall in love with getting in those X-Wings? So when it comes down to it, it’s the little kid in us that usually wins out.

Hatch clearly felt deeply attached to that show. Even though it only lasted one season, Hatch tried to continue the show for years. In the late 1990s, Hatch made a 30-minute Battlestar Galactica movie called The Second Coming, and traveled with a trailer to drum up fan support and to convince Universal that a revival was viable. He continued to write novels in the original BSG universe.

And even though bringing back the original Battlestar Galactica universe and telling more stories there was always his goal, he managed to get over his disappointment in the existence of a reboot—which led to him playing Tom Zarek in the rebooted show. Instead of an unambiguous good guy pilot, Zarek was a convicted terrorist who emerged as a political foil for President Roslin throughout the show. Hatch played Zarek as smart, formidable, and very twisty.

As news broke of his death, people he worked with paid tribute on Twitter:


In 2009, Hatch said of his Battlestar Galactica experiences, “I’ve been lucky to be in two Battlestar series. Not too many people get to be in two series 30 years apart in a story that they love, working with actors, writers and producers that are just absolutely extraordinary. I had a great time.”

Katharine is the Associate Director of Policy and Activism at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the former managing editor of io9. She writes about technology policy and pop culture.



To the stars Apollo, so say we all.