Thursday, September 28, 2017

In memorium: science fiction stars lost in 2017

This year has seen a precipitous drop in posts at ESE and for obvious reasons.
By "obvious" I mean either major depression or time lost to scouring job ads...or as I call them, "the lonely hearts column."

That means that I have been remiss in writing needed tributes to three actors who were pivotal in bringing a few of my favorite science fiction TV shows to life.

Just four days after the closing of Saint Joseph's College, I got another kick in the teeth. Richard Hatch died. He played Captain Apollo on the original Battlestar Galactica. As a noble hero Viper pilot with a profound sense of duty, he played the Iceman to Starbuck's Maverick, to remain in keeping with the fighter pilot conceit. Though the show ended in 1979, Hatch never lost faith that it could be brought back. In the 1990s he produced a pilot, proof-of-concept film that had Apollo taking over as leader of the fleet after the fall of his father, Adama. That production never came to pass, but Hatch was asked to be a recurring guest star on the Galactica reboot of the 2000s.

Go to the Ship of Lights, Captain.

Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau died last July. He had a few guest roles on Twilight Zone and especially The Outer Limits, but it was Space: 1999 that will always be memorable to me. On that show he played Commander John Koenig, leader of Moonbase Alpha, a research station on the Moon. A massive nuclear detonation breaks the Moon to pieces and the section holding Moonbase Alpha is sent hurtling through space. Koenig then found himself as not simply the commander of an installation but the de facto leader of a displaced people. Through it all, Landau just made Koenig seem so human
Of course Landau had an extensive career well beyond this genre fare. If you really want to see an amazing performance from him, check out his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood. In a movie full of great moments and performances, Landau manages to stand out from it all.

Keep wandering the stars, Commander.

Almost one month ago to the day we lost Richard Anderson. He was a seasoned television and film actor (notably Perry Mason), but I will always know him as Oscar Goldman from The Six Million Dollar Man. I guess you could say Oscar was the equivalent of a "CIA handler" for Steve Austin, the Bionic Man. Something about Anderson's presence and delivery made it seem like he was born to be a government administrator/spook.

As you might say to Steve, "Later, pal."

I could do without blogging any more obituaries. This year has seen enough tragedy.

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