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Richard Hatch Passes Away at 71

As many of you know, we’re all saddened by the loss of Richard Hatch, who portrayed Kharn in Prelude to Axanar.

Richard, who best known for portraying Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica, was 71.  He had been working as an actor for over 50 years, and was known by fans for his genuine interest in his interactions with them.  Everyone I know has a story of Richard and how good he made them feel when they met him.

I first met Richard in 1993 at the 15th anniversary Battlestar Galactica reunion.  I took an acting class with him shortly thereafter and we became – and have remained – good friends ever since.  In 1998, I moved to Atlanta and Richard and I would meet at Dragon Con every year.  His dinners at Benihana on Saturdays of the con were legendary.  Ironically, we became really good friends by hanging out at conventions.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2008, we started meeting up more often and after classes at The Howard Fine Studios and with Ted Brunetti, I started working with Richard again in his Tuesday classes.  Richard moved down by me in Toluca lake in 2013, so we would meet all the time for lunch/dinner or whatever pretty regularly.

Richard was the first actor I approached for Axanar, and I knew I wanted him to play Kharn.  Richard was such an underrated actor and brought everything he had to the role.  He LOVED playing Kharn and said he always wanted to play a Klingon.  He loved the whole warrior code and got the more subtle aspects of what that meant to a Klingon. I sat down with him early on in the process and talked to him about Kharn and we both saw the character exactly the same.  In my mind Kharn was a combination of Kang from the TOS episode Day of the Dove , and Katsumoto from The Last Samurai.  That was music to Richards ears as he was a huge  fan of The Last Samurai, so Kharn grew organically from that.

My good friend Jeff Pina’s take on Kharn.

Richard was such a good and dear friend that I often forgot what a celebrity he was in geek circles. We all grew up on Richard’s Apollo and then loved him as Tom Zarek (Richard would spend hours explaining to anyone who was interested why Tom was such a great character and a good guy).  I always had to remind myself that Richard was famous.

More than once Richard would come up in conversation and someone would invariably say “You know Richard Hatch?”  So I would always try to share Richard with everyone, because my friends would get such a kick out of meeting him and Richard was just amazing with fans.  He would always make every fan feel so special and interesting and he just loved people in a way few people I know do.  I learned so much from him. (Garrett Wang is the other person I will say that is truly amazing with fans).  Reading Facebook yesterday and today, I loved seeing everyone’s stories about how much fun it was to meet Richard.

My birthday falls on Dragon Con every year, and the last few years I have had a dinner with some of my closest friends.  Celebrating my friendships is the best birthday present I can get.  This past year I told one of my best buddies, Curtis Callaway, who I have known for almost 20 years, and who is a huge fan of Richards, that he had to come to the dinner and I would sit him next to Richard.  Curtis was so excited to meet Richard and it felt so good that I could do something cool for Curtis by simply sharing dinner with my friend Richard.   Richard treated every new person in his life so well and was always genuinely interested in every new person he met.  He was never annoyed by fans and seemed to have unlimited energy for people.

Rebecca, Crysstal, Mary Anne, Alec, Curtis, Samantha, Richard

I saw Richard two weeks before he passed in the hospital and he was in good spirits and rather accepting of his situation.  He just wanted his son Paul to be taken care of.  I got to tell Richard I loved him and he said the same.

Richard was truly an amazing man, a great actor, a talented teacher and a loyal friend. I will miss him.

Alec

Other things to read:

Axanar co-producer and CTO Bill Watters writes for Bleeding Cool and did a nice compilation of quotes and Tweets from Richard’s friends.  You can read it here.

Also, Joanthan Lane wrote a great piece on Richard, you can read on Fan Film Factor. It again shows how Richard is with his fans. I enjoyed reading this as it recalls another dinner with Richard.

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11 Comments

  • Eric says:

    Well said Alec. My thoughts go out to you on the loss of your friend Richard who you wrote so eloquently about. It is one thing for us, as fans of Richard Hatch, to lose an actor we admire… but it is something else entirely for you and his family who have lost someone near and dear to you.

    RIP Richard Hatch and my condolences go out to his family and friends.

    • kevin covalciuc says:

      Well said. I/We will always remember him. I never knew him personally but I wish that I had. His soul will be with us and inspiring us long after he has gone.

  • Eric W. says:

    I grew up watching Richard as Apollo as so many others did. I did not realize that he was 71 and I certainly did not realize he was sick. I so much loved him playing Kharn in Prelude. He was destined for that role and looked so natural in it. You could tell he was enjoying it, you could see it in his face. I was so stoked to see him more as that character. I am so glad to at least get to see him perform one last time as Kharn even though it was only for a short duration every time I watch Prelude to Axanar. I do hope that Axanar will go on even in some iteration or form, if anything to keep Kharn in our hearts and minds and as a tribute to Richard. RIP Richard, I did not know you personally but enjoyed your work immensely.
    Thanks Alec for giving him the opportunity to play Kharn so we could see his work one final time!

  • Maryann says:

    Wow spot on. I met him over two years ago when I started Skype sessions with him. He insisted upon our first session needed to be two hours. I was so scared and excited. He spoke with me as if I was an old friend. He got me and worked with me on learning how to effectively do presentations and eventually all aspects of writing. He was my life coach but more my friend. I last saw him on January 4th. I knew he had some health issues but didn’t know the extent of it. Our last session he was in good spirits and hopeful. His last words to me were love you amazing lady. I will never forget and will always cherish his friendship.

  • I was greatly saddened to hear of Richard’s passing. I can say that the promise of his portrayal of Kharn the understated Klingon was the most promising character in Sci Fi since Mimoy’s Spock.

    What a terrible loss to us all!

  • Lee Benjamin says:

    Wonderfully stated as always. We could all hope for such a friend.

  • Doug says:

    Richard was a truly fantastic actor. I’m a HUGE Galactica fan and was thrilled to see Richard in the series reboot. I always wanted to meet Richard, but never had the opportunity. It won’t be the same without him. He will truly be missed.

  • Michael Osborne says:

    Thank you for this, Alec.

  • Sean Patrick Kennedy says:

    I said it before and I’ll say it until the day we can all be together again in the stars.. . He was a hero that I took to lunch every day as a 7yr old on my lunchbox.. Somehow, due to my friendship with you Alec, a childhood hero became a friend. No.. A dear friend and teacher, in all the ways that matter. I love him too. Thank you Alec. Thank you Richard.

  • Eric says:

    I just re-watched Mr. Hatch in the original Battlestar Galactica and it’s one of my favorite television shows. I was disappointed that it didn’t go longer then and also disappointed that Richard Hatch’ dream of a continuation of the series didn’t come to pass. I didn’t like or watch the reboot and looked forward to Richard Hatch’ continuation of the series.
    I liked him as Kharn and looked forward to seeing the movie.
    I am saddened to hear of his death and I will miss seeing him in future projects but will always continue to watch Battlestar Galactica every so often and enjoy his performance as Apollo.

  • Scott Hedrick says:

    My wife wondered why I was mopey for a couple of days. I told her my friend died. I remember watching him on The Streets of San Francisco with my dad. I only met him once, July last year in Lake City, Florida, and to say he amazing with fans is an understatement. We had a couple of great conversations on the directions the industry is taking, and I had just started outlining a letter to further carry on our talks when I got the news. He really had that effect, after meeting him I felt as if I had known him for years. I am going to miss my friend. I’ve started hunting down his other words. I was fortunate enough to get an autographed picture of him as Kharn.