by Marshall Jay Kaplan
The former sci-fi television actor of Battlestar Galactica is still involved in the sci-fi community, embracing the role that made him famous.
Richard Hatch was born on May 21, 1945 in Santa Monica, California. Always wanting to be an actor, after graduating from college Hatch joined the Los Angeles Repertory Theatre. By the late 1960’s, he was in New York City, appearing in off-Broadway plays. He won the Obie Award (the ‘Tony’ for off-Broadway plays) for P.S. Your Cat Is Dead. “I am always surprised that I became an actor because I’m far too shy and far too insecure,” Hatch reflected.
While in New York, Hatch won the role of ‘Philip Brent’ on the daytime soap opera, All My Children. The role lasted for two years. After which, Hatch moved back to Los Angeles and started getting guest roles on shows such as Cannon, Barnaby Jones, Hawaii Five-O and The Waltons.
In 1976, Hatch became somewhat of a teen pin-up after being cast as Michael Douglas’ replacement (opposite Karl Malden) in the role of ‘Dan Robbins’ on The Streets of San Francisco. Hatch’s boyish face appeared in almost every teen magazine of the day.
His next role was the one that garnered him television icon status—that of ‘Captain Apollo’ in Glen A. Larson’s sci-fi series, Battlestar Galactica. The series’ pilot was the most expensive at the time—$7 million—and initially had limited theatrical release throughout the world. Alongside co-stars Lorne Greene and Dirk Benedict, the crew traveled across the galaxy in the last surviving war ship, ‘Galactica,’ in search of a legendary planet called Earth. Hatch was nominated for a Golden Globe award for his Galactica performance. Amazingly, the series only lasted for one season, but it remained in the hearts of sci-fi fans as many books on the characters’ continuing adventures were written after the series left the air.
After Battlestar Galactica left the television galaxy, Hatch returned to television, guest-starring in a variety of roles. For years and years, he tried to revise Battlestar Galactica. He even took pen to paper and started writing successful sci-fi novels. Eventually, in 2003—twenty five years later—Hatch was successful, as Battlestar Galactica returned to television. Hatch played the character of Tom Zarek in this updated version. The show was a huge success and lasted five seasons. Hatch’s hard work had finally paid off.
Hatch had truly become not only a supporter of the sci-fi genre, but a full-fledged sci-fi icon. “I had bonded so deeply with the original Battlestar Galactica characters and story that I began writing novels focusing on Battlestar Galactica and really campaigning to bring back the show,” he said.