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Updated: November 12, 2023

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. He is also widely known for his role as Tom Zarek in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica.

Hatch was born on May 21, 1945 in Santa Monica, California to John Raymond Hatch and Elizabeth Hatch ( nee White ). He grew up with 4 siblings. 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 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. In the following years, he made guest appearances in prime time 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 television movie Deadman's Curve, in which he portrayed Jan Berry of the musical duo Jan and Dean, alongside Bruce Davison as Dean Torrence.

In 1976, Hatch gained his first major television role as Inspector Dan Robbins on the detective series The Streets of San Francisco, as the replacement for Michael Douglas, who had acted Inspector Steve Keller in the series, but had resigned from the cast 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.

In 1978, Hatch gained a starring role in Glen A. Larson's sci-fi series, Battlestar Galactica ( 1978 ), which aired for a single season before its high cost motivated its cancellation by ABC-TV. Hatch was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the role.

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.

In 2013, Hatch made a 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 ) and with Arte Johnson in Second Chance ( 1996 ).

Battlestar Galactica revival attempt:

In the 1990s, Hatch attempted to revive Battlestar Galactica. He began writing novels based on the series, and also wrote, co-directed and executive-produced a trailer called Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming in the hopes of enticing Universal Studios - the rights holders for the franchise, into producing a new series. Hatch's series would have been a direct continuation of the original 1978 series, and would have ignored the events of the failed spin-off Galactica 1980, in which Hatch had not appeared. Original actors John Colicos ( Baltar ), Terry Carter ( Colonel Tigh ) and Jack Stauffer ( Bojay ) appeared in the trailer with Hatch. Though the trailer won acclaim at science-fiction conventions, Universal was not interested in Hatch's vision for the revival of Battlestar Galactica, and instead opted for a remake rather than the sequel for which Hatch had campaigned. Hatch, who had reportedly remortgaged his own house to produce 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."

Despite his resentment, Hatch developed a respect for Ronald D. Moore, the remake show's head 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 portrayed 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 trailer for his own space opera entitled The Great War of Magellan.

Hatch 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 201213, 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, though legal issues with Paramount Pictures prevented the project from being completed.

In his final performance, Hatch played director Haskell Edwards in the film Diminuendo which wrapped a few months before he learned of his illness. Hatch was able to see a rough cut of the film before he died, and a work-in-progress screening was held as a memorial shortly after his death. Diminuendo had its world premiere at the 20th Annual Sarasota Film Festival on April 20, 2018.

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