Richard Hatch, Captain Apollo of 'Galactica' fame, dies at 71

Though the original sci-fi show only lasted one season, it remained a part of the actor's life for many more years.

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Actor Richard Hatch signs "Death Of Apollo" at The Comic Bug in December of 2014 in Culver City, California.

Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

In a way, Richard Hatch never left the Galactica. The actor, who died Tuesday of pancreatic cancer at age 71, was Captain Apollo on the original "Battlestar Galactica" for just one season, but it forever remained a part of his life.

"Hurtling through space with reckless abandon, playing the dashing hero, battling Cylons, monsters and super-villains -- what more could a man want?" Hatch said of his role. "All in all, I feel proud and honored to have been a part of such a fun and highly entertaining show."

And though "Galactica" aired just a year after the mega-success of 1977 film "Star Wars," Hatch defended his show's originality.

"I still feel that our story is no more a rip-off of 'Star Wars' than a western film is derivative of every other western film," he said on his website. "Our show was inspired by 'Star Wars', but it definitely had its own unique characters' flavor and point of view."

Hatch would return to the "Galactica" franchise, playing Tom Zarek, when the show was re-envisioned in 2005, but even before then, he was writing novels, hoping to revive the series. He also created a trailer to try and convince Universal Studios to continue the show, although at the time, they passed.

Ronald D. Moore, who developed the 2005 "Galactica" series, remembered Hatch on Twitter Tuesday.

As did David Prowse, who portrayed Darth Vader in the original "Star Wars" trilogy (James Earl Jones provided the voice of course).

And Edward James Olmos, Hatch's former co-star, bid him farewell.

Hatch was also known for his work on soap opera "All My Children" and appeared on numerous 1970s and 1980s standbys such as "The Waltons," "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island." He starred for a season on "The Streets of San Francisco" and had a recurring role on "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman."

With his handsome face, easy smile and Han Solo-esque style, Hatch was a natural choice for the leader of Blue Squadron, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for the part. But he might not have acted in any role had it not been for one of the worst days in America's history.

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, Hatch, like millions, was emotionally destroyed.

"It struck such a deep chord in me," he recalled on his website. "I remember going home and crying in the bathroom. It was violating; we thought America was impervious to such things."

Then a college student, Hatch went to his oral interpretation class and read aloud an article about Kennedy that stunned his classmates and made a formerly withdrawn Hatch realize he might have a talent for acting.

"It was a major turning point in my life," Hatch said. "As I began to read this article, I got so affected by what I was saying that I forgot myself. My voice started coming out, I started looking at people. I was expressing feelings and emotions I tended to keep locked inside of myself."

And through that sad moment in history, Hatch found what he was meant to do.

First published February 7, 4:32 p.m. PT.

Update, 5:45 p.m. PT: Adds more social media reaction.

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