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Goodbye Apollo: The geeky, charming Richard Hatch I knew

CNET's Bonnie Burton remembers the original "Battlestar Galactica" actor, an avid sci-fi aficionado who could chat for hours with other science fiction fans.

Richard Hatch as Captain Apollo in 1978's "Battlestar Galactica."
Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

When I heard the sad news Tuesday that actor Richard Hatch died, my heart sank.

As Captain Apollo on the 1978 TV series "Battlestar Galactica," he wasn't just my first space crush (sorry Han Solo). The pilot he brought to life embodied the kind of passion and stubbornness that made the popular sci-fi series more than what some critics called a "Star Wars wannabe."

"Battlestar Galactica" actor Richard Hatch with CNET writer Bonnie Burton.

Bonnie Burton/CNET

Apollo was a stand-out character to many of us space geeks who loved the short-lived '70s original series. But Hatch wasn't just Apollo. He returned to the "Galactica" franchise during its wildly successful 2004 reboot, playing Tom Zarek, a terrorist who becomes a politician.

He also had roles in "All My Children," "The Streets of San Francisco," "Hotel," "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island," and in one of my favorite guest appearances: He played a dubious boyfriend and possible suspect in "Murder, She Wrote."

I didn't get to know Hatch personally until we both appeared in "The Guild" -- actress Felicia Day's webseries about video gamers and their awkward adventures. Season 5 was all about the sudden pitfalls of internet fame and how to survive being a hard-core fan at a comic book convention.

"Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" actress Erin Gray and "Battlestar Galactica" actor Richard Hatch in "The Guild."

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Hatch plays himself as an actor looking for social media tips at a comic book convention. He also invites one of the main characters to a celeb-infested after-party. I was cast as a friend of "Agents of SHIELD" actress Dichen Lachman, and we're attending the party Hatch mentions.

It wasn't much later that I ran into Hatch at the first annual "The Geekie Awards Show" and we finally got to chat about having fun on "The Guild." It was then I realized Hatch was just as big a fan of all things geeky as the rest of us.

He not only loved sci-fi, but even wrote his own space opera and comic book series called "The Great War of Magellan."

Hatch enjoyed his cameo on "The Guild" so much he later starred in the webseries "The Silicon Assassin Project" and played the Klingon Commander Kharn in the Star Trek fan film "Prelude To Axanar."

I loved how Hatch enjoyed chatting with "Battlestar Galactica," fans but also became part of the Star Trek and The Guild fan communities. Whenever I later ran into Hatch at comic book conventions and parties, he always looked like he was having fun among his fellow geeks.

That's what I remember most -- not just Hatch's iconic role as Apollo, but his big smile whenever he was around fans who wanted to know more about his next big sci-fi project. Hatch's positive energy will be missed. So say we all.

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