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Battlestar Galactica's Captain Apollo/Tom Zarek Dies at 71 in Santa Clarita

Star of "Battlestar Galactica" and the Syfy remake loses battle with pancreatic cancer, his manger confirmed to Variety

Richard Hatch died Tuesday. The Santa Monica born actor, writer, and producer best known for his role as Captain Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica television series, and also as Tom Zarek in the 2003 remake of Battlestar Galactica.

Richard Hatch, star of the original "Battlestar Galactica" and the Syfy remake, died on Tuesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer, his manger confirmed to Variety. Hatch died around 1:30 p.m. at his home in Santa Clarita, Calif., with his son Paul by his side.

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. For some years, he then made guest appearances in primetime 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 McCoys with Jack Palance, Addie and the King of Hearts with Jason Robards, Last of the Belles with Susan Sarandon, and the 1978 TV movie Deadman's Curve in which he portrayed Jan Berry of the musical duo Jan and Dean.

In 1976, Hatch gained his first major television role as Inspector Dan Robbins on the detective series The Streets of San Francisco, a replacement for Michael Douglas (who played Insp. Steve Keller) who had left the series that year. Though the role was only for 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. By this time, Hatch had become something of a pin-up and regularly appeared in teen-oriented magazines such as Teen Beat, 16 Magazine, and Tiger Beat.

Hatch then gained a starring role in Glen A. Larson's sci-fi series, Battlestar Galactica (1978), which aired for a single season before cancellation. Hatch was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the role.

Throughout the 1980s, Hatch made guest appearances on such series as Hotel; Murder, She Wrote; The Love Boat; and Fantasy Island. In 1984, he appeared in several episodes of Dynasty, which was at the top of the ratings at the time. In 1990, Hatch returned to daytime soap operas and appeared on Santa Barbara, originating the character Steven Slade. He continued to make guest appearances on prime time series such as Jake and the Fatman and Baywatch, but roles were becoming few and far between. His next prominent role would be as Tom Zarek in the reimagined version of Battlestar Galactica, in which he made semi-regular appearances from 2004-09.

Gathering followers among the prisoners, Zarek leads a riot against the leadership of the ragtag fleet, protesting the poor living conditions on the Astral Queen. He creates a hostage situation which then-Commander Adama and President Roslin must resolve in the midst of a crisis of water supply in the fleet. ("Bastille Day"). As an homage to the original 1970s series, at one point in the episode Zarek and Lee Adama are in discussion sitting opposite each other in one of the cells. One of Zarek's co-conspirators calls "Apollo!", at which point they both turn in recognition.

Later in the series, Zarek runs for political office, and is elected representative for Sagittaron on the new Quorum of Twelve (the upper house of the legislative branch of the government, and the only one expedient to use under the circumstances). He then runs for the vacant office of Vice President, in a power play meant to take a step towards ascending to the presidency, but is defeated when Roslin makes a surprise replacement for her own nominee, and Dr. Gaius Baltar is elected Vice President.

Actor Richard Hatch has stated that Zarek ran for office because "he's always looking for positions where he can leverage himself, where he can have more influence. He obviously believes that he's fighting for the people, but very much so often the idealistic revolutionary becomes the self-serving politician. So often, what you think is for the people ends up being for you. I think that happens to so many political leaders. They start out for beneficial reasons but they get caught up in the process for their own purposes and agendas."


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