R.I.P. – RICHARD HATCH (1945-2017)

Richard Hatch played Tom Zarek on the new Battlestar Galactica and, more recently, Klingon Commander Kharn in Prelude to Axanar.

Some deaths really hit you hard.  This one did for me.  I’d been working on site at a client this afternoon when the news came down that actor Richard Hatch had passed away at the age of 71 from pancreatic cancer.  I didn’t find out until hours later when I sent a response to a friend’s IM.  Instead of continuing our debate, he wrote me back: “Richard Hatch passed away. Not long ago. He’s an old friend.

At first I didn’t believe it.  “THE Richard Hatch???” I typed back.  Then I looked through my e-mails and almost immediately found this from Alec Peters:

It is with great sadness that I report to all Axanar fans that Richard Hatch has passed away. 3 weeks ago I found out he had stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. We knew he had little time left, but this is quite more sudden than we thought.

Richard was in good spirits when I visited him 2 weeks ago. He knew his time was short, but was comforted by the fact that his son would be taken care of.

Richard was a dear friend and a staunch supporter of Axanar. Kharn was literally one of his favorite roles from his 50+ year acting career. We will all miss him a great deal.

I felt like I’d been punched in the gut.  Just weeks after the Axanar legal settlement allowed Richard Hatch to appear in a 30-minute version of the main fan film, I was so looking forward to seeing him reprise his role as the Klingon Commander Kharn, truly some of his best work in a career that also featured two other beloved sci-fi characters: Captain Apollo and, later, Tom Zarek from both the original and the rebooted Battlestar Galactica.

Richard also did a number of independent sci-fi and fan film roles recently.  He appeared in an episode of Star Trek: New Voyages that was never completed, “Torment of Destiny” (perhaps now it might finally be edited and completed; we’ll have to see).  He was also slated to appear as a major character in the independent sci-fi web series Blade of Honor as Admiral DiCarrek.

Of course, for most readers of Fan Film Factor and millions of YouTube viewers, Richard was known most recently for his captivating performance as the introspective, intense, and haunted Klingon Commander Kharn from Prelude to Axanar.

I realize it’s both cliche and a little egotistical to say, “I knew the deceased”–especially when it’s a celebrity who has passed away.  And to be certain, there are many, MANY people who knew Richard Hatch far better than I did.  But even though I only met Richard a few times at conventions where Axanar had a table, interviewed him via e-mail for the STARFLEET fan club newsletter, and had dinner with him just one time, he did leave an indelible impression on me.  And that is what I’d like to share with you, if you don’t mind.

It was after that dinner in late 2014–which consisted of three volunteers (myself, Derek Allen, and Martin Horowitz) plus Alec Peters, Diana Kingsbury, and Richard himself–that I realized how much Richard Hatch truly didn’t look his age.  Derek, Martin, and I were trying to figure out how old Richard was, as he didn’t look older than his mid- or, at most, late-50s.  He was nearly 70 at the time.

Richard was just so full of life…like a puppy who just wanted to explore everything the world had to offer.  Before dinner, while still at the the convention for eight straight hours, he was talking to everyone who walked by his table, never for a moment looking bored or exhausted or uninterested in the person talking to him.

During dinner, Richard spoke excitedly and knowledgeably about a flurry of topics…eventually landing on Klingons and how Kharn might be influenced by other Klingons who had appeared in Star Trek.  This led to an energetic and passionate discussion among all of us geeks on the best Klingons to research…and why they were important.  Alec had always seen Kharn as cut from the same cloth as Kang from “Dave of the Dove.”  I thought it would be good for Richard to look more closely at Martok from Deep Space Nine.  Everybody had an opinion!

And rather than just zoning out at this cacophony of Klingon comparison and contrast, Richard was right there in the thick of it all.  He challenged us to connect what this or that Klingon did that could tie into how Kharn might think or act.  Richard brought into this discussion the philosophies of The Art of War, World War II history, elements of Eastern spirituality, and a collection of other facts and experiences from his life..

For me, this was a total geek-gasm, chatting about Star Trek for over 90 minutes with the star of Battlestar Galactica and giving him potentially valuable insights into how he might play his newest Klingon character more effectively.  And Richard really wanted to know!  This wasn’t just some lip service for a bunch of Trekkies he was trapped with in a P.F. Chang’s in Long Beach.  Richard questioned, drilled down, challenged us a few times, and in the end even asked if we could send him a list of the most informative Star Trek episodes to watch and examine.  I went home and composed an e-mail list of a couple of dozen episodes to check out and why they were important.  (I think I still have that e-mail somewhere…)

So no, I wasn’t close to Richard Hatch, and I doubt he could have picked me out of a police line-up.  But that didn’t matter.  Richard inspired me…with his thirst for knowledge, his positive attitude, his energy, and his lust for life and experiences…even at the age of almost 70.  Twenty years from now, I can only hope to come close to that kind of optimism and spiritual awareness.Farewell, Richard.  Thank you for touching our lives with your wonderful characters, your graciousness, and your limitless energy and optimism.  You will be truly missed…

25 thoughts on “R.I.P. – RICHARD HATCH (1945-2017)”

  1. I remember that dinner well, there was a roller coaster of emotion when He would say how he saw Klingons as being Like Scottish Warriors, and someone would point out that Roddenberry modeled the on Jappanese Samurai Culture, and someone else would point out, that they could still have features from Scottish warriors, and on and on….

    I had dinner with him again a few months later with a different crowd, of acting friends of his and mine. Still an amazing conversation, his passion for acting and creating was amazing.

    I hung out with on a slow day at convention for a few hours and we talked about historical battles, and aircraft, and he had me tell him about some of my exploits. In total I met him about a half dozen times, but it always felt like you were hanging out with someone you had known a very long time.

  2. Holy sh.. !!!
    Sorry, but it is the first thing that I thought reading the title.
    Now I have one more reason to hate CBS for preventing Axanar to be made as scheduled. Of course I am wrong, I should blame the f…. cancer.
    I am so sorry were are in the era where the actors that impersonated characters of our childhood are aged enough to be passing away one after the other. Their chance is they leave us a formidable legacy. Thanks to all of them.
    Oh, yeah, I will definitively miss Richard Hatch.

    1. I agree, CBS should allow for a full Axanar film to honor Richard Hatch, but of course, they’d never agree to that – Such foolish people they are *smdh* Anyway, hopefully the Heaven that welcomes our Mr. Hatch will be a place where he could make all the Axanar he might have ever wanted – God rest his soul… P

  3. Much Like yourself I met Richard at a Convention. He showed the crowd his Second coming trailer and it sounded.. I kid you not Like the home-team just scored the winning touch down. He also noticed me in the crowd and asked borrow my colonial warrior jacket, which I proudly passed up… That Jacket still hangs in my closet. And it’s a great memory I will never forget.

    Also over the course of that weekend. I has several opportunities to chat with him and he always treated me like a friend. Not some crazed fan.

    So let’s all raise a glass of Ambrosia, To Richard Hatch true friend to fans, all over the world.

    1. I actually saw Richard Hatch along with the originally cast of Battlestar Galactica during the first Pensacon believe it or not .

      It was a surreal experience .

      A sad day for Scfi fans everywhere .

  4. A childhood hero of mine, Captain Apollo was. Richard’s talent will sorely be missed. R.I.P., Commander Kharn, and welcome to Sto-Vo-Kor.

  5. Back in 1996,I was fortunate to meet and interview Richard Hatch at a science fiction convention, for a newsletter that I had written a column for. I can honestly say, that it was an honor to meet and speak with him about his life and his acting career. Not only did I learn a lot about his background in the cinematic and television arts, I also learned a lot about his life in general. It was quite an awesome experience.

    A year later, in 1997, I would meet Richard again at another convention, and this time I would have lunch with him and Babylon 5 actress Majorie Monaghan. It was later that day that I presented Richard the original copy of a Battlestar Galactica novel that I had written the year before. It was my way of saying thanks to him for his wonderful contributions to both Battlestar Galactica and the Creative Arts in general. He was so impressed and flattered that he would later tell me that the novel certainly recaptured the spiritual qualities of the original series.

    I would not see Richard again until 1998 at another convention, and we managed to catch up on the events of the year before. We even talked about his second Battlestar Galactica novel and what he had planned for Captain Apollo and the characters in the third novel of that trilogy. Plus, we even discussed his future projects and what his production company had in the pre-production phase.

    Richard Lawrence Hatch was not only a remarkable actor, writer, producer, and director. He was an extraordinary human being. A real renaissance man who will be sadly missed.

    RIP, Richard.

    We will miss you.

  6. It is a sad day in fandom.

    All the more reason why Axanar should be scrapped permanently. That production and Alec Peters has already tainted Star Trek’s reputation and done enough damage.

    It should not blemish the memory of Richard Hatch and the remarkable life that he had led.

    1. Man, Charles, that’s a pretty disgusting thing to say considering how strongly Richard Hatch believed in Axanar and Alec Peters. It would blemish Richard’s memory at this point if Axanar were NOT made. Richard truly loved that project and playing the character of Kharn. His enthusiasm for the role and for the entire storyline of the Four Years War and Axanar was palpable during that dinner and at every subsequent convention appearance where I saw and heard him discuss the project. He would even mention the project in interviews and podcasts and when he was doing BSG panels.

      I can’t imagine anything breaking Richard’s heart more (if only it were still beating) than scrapping Axanar as you suggest. Shame on you.

      1. Agreed, Jonathan – If anything, CBS should honor Richard’s memory by allowing Alec to make the Axanar film that he intended to make in the first place – That’s likely not going to happen, but still, one can always dream… P

    2. Is that where you really decided to go to Chuck?!? A good man passed and you’re stuck on that crap! PATHETIC!!

  7. I can’t speak for Richard – and I respectfully would not – but I would like to think that he would not have wanted to have been equated with the controversy that Alec Peters stirred up with Axanar, and the consequences thereafter. Tony Todd made the right decision and abandoned ship when he did.

    Unlike David Gerrold – who has ruined his reputation by being associated with Alec and Axanar – I don’t think that Richard would have wanted to have been found guilty by association, either. No matter how cool the character of Kharn or the story was written.

    1. The facts don’t back your theory, Charles. Richard Hatch was one of the staunchest supporters of Axanar…even after the lawsuit. In fact, he even invited Alec Peters to sit with him as a co-panelist on his Battlestar Galactica panel at last year’s San Diego Comic Con. And when the discussion turned to Axanar, Richard did not steer it back to BSG. (Richard leads the BSG and determines what gets discussed Had he not wanted to focus on Axanar, he could have stopped the topic at any point. Instead, he let the discussion continue.) In fact, during the panel, Richard himself was quoted as saying: “Axanar is only the beginning. There has to be a relationship between fans, studios and networks.” Richard was totally behind Axanar and Alec…110%.

      Here’s an article on that panel:

      https://www.inverse.com/article/18630-fan-films-sdcc-battlestar-star-trek

      But hey, no need to just trust the facts, Charles. You can listen to Richard Hatch talk about Axanar in his own voice and words for a whole hour on this podcast:

      http://trek.fm/axp/29

      It’s a really fantastic podcast and shows just how excited and deeply committed to this project Richard was.

      Sorry to have to nip your alt-fact in the bud like that, Charles. (No, I’m not.) 🙂

  8. Hmmm, David Gerrold certainly did not ruin his reputation. He is a master in his category and grown enough to make his choices. Before they stopped to become licensed museum, he was showrunner of New Voyages. Unlike you Charles, David Gerrold has the ability to recognize the best potentials, and if does not hesitate to use his reputation as a support, it is because he is sure of his taste and I trust him.

    For Richard Hatch, where do you see him made guilty of anything by association ? So, now you hate Axanar so much you are ready to spoil the deads to serve your purpose ? Disgusting, indeed. Please leave this topic, we mourn a good man here.

  9. More like a master of being a hypocrite. He claimed that he had ‘no dog in this fight’, and yet he continued to be involved and associated with Alec Peters’ project that killed Star Trek fan films. I might also add that he even stated publicly that if Axanar violated the rules – AND IT DID thanks to Alec Peters’ stupidity and corrupt BS – then all the Star Trek fan films did. And Gerrold was the showrunner on one of them, before he was either dismissed by James Cawley or resigned of his own choosing.

    If that is not being a hypocrite, then I don’t know what is.

  10. Jonathan, we all know that the fan film guidelines instituted by CBS/Paramount – and justifiably so because Alec broke the rules by resorting to illegal methods – will make it virtually impossible for Star Trek fans to make fan films. Unless fans were to film something similar in the half-hour time format used in the animated series, it will be virtually impossible for fan film productions to film live action episodes.

    All that aside, I would also like to point out this. Even though Richard Hatch was a remarkable actor, be it the original Captain Apollo or other roles that he had appeared in, his career certainly did not end on a good note because of his association with Star Trek – Axanar.

    Not because of the character that he played in Prelude and would play again in the fan film. But because he was associated with a production that became corrupted when Alec Peters broke the law and Peters’ criminal actions damaged Star Trek fandom, itself.

    That’s all I have to say.

    1. Just correcting you, Charles: Alec Peters broke no law and did nothing criminal. You’re confusing a civil action with criminal law…two entirely different things. And in the end, the case was settled, so Alec wasn’t even found liable (there is not “guilty” verdict in civil law) for copyright infringement.

      As for Richard hatch, I spoke to him several times while he was involved with Axanar, and I’d never seen such sincere pride and enthusiasm for this project…not even from Alec himself. I’m sure all of us–including Richard’s family–would appreciate you not trying to exploit Richard Hatch’s memory to make some cheap swipe at Alec. Richard was Alec’s teacher, and Richard was Alec’s dear friend. Richard made Axanar possible by being the first “big name” to sign aboard and then helped to bring on others. He sat at Axanar convention tables, spoke during Axanar panels, and even signed God-knows-how-many Kharn busts to be given away as perks. Richard believed in Axanar, and he believed in Alec Peters probably more than all of the rest of us combined.

      Please don’t desecrate Richard’s Hatch’s memory on my blog. It’s not just in bad taste; it’s actually rather repugnant to the respectful, civilized fans who gather here.

  11. I’m not desecrating his memory. But, I’m not going to be a hypocrite, either.

    If there is anything repugnant about all of this, it is Alec Peters and his actions that ruined the Star Trek fan film base.

    Michael Bednar of Starship Farragut was right in his statement about Alec and his actions.

    TOO TOXIC!

    1. Oh, you’re absolutely desecrating Richard Hatch’s memory. Don’t kid yourself, Charles.

      As for fan films…do you have any idea how many Star Trek fan films have been released SINCE the guidelines were announced? Take a guess.

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