Michael O'Hare, Babylon 5's original commander, dies at 60

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Dec 17, 2012, 4:24 PM EST

Michael O'Hare, the little-known actor who earned his place in sci-fi history when he joined the original cast of Babylon 5 in 1992, died Friday after suffering a heart attack several days earlier. He was 60.

Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski announced O'Hare's death on his official Facebook page Friday.

"I regret that I must convey the sad news that Michael O'Hare passed away today. He suffered a heart attack on Sunday and was in a coma until his passing this afternoon. This is a terrible loss for all B5 fans and everyone involved with the show wishes to convey their condolences to the O'Hare family. He was an amazing man."

A Chicago native, O'Hare earned notoriety in the theater before moving into television. He starred as Col. Jessup in the original production of Aaron Sorkin's stage play A Few Good Men, a role Jack Nicholson would later play on screen.

Though he made a number of guest appearances on high-profile shows like L.A. Law, Tales From the Darkside and Kate & Allie, Babylon 5 was O'Hare's first (and ultimately only) chance to lead the cast of a TV series. He led the crew of the titular space station as Cmdr. Jeffrey Sinclair for the show's first season, then left in what Straczynski described as a "mutual" and "amicable" split. Though he was replaced as commander of the station by Bruce Boxleitner's Capt. John Sheridan, Sinclair still had an important role to play in the series, and O'Hare appeared briefly in both seasons two and three of the show to wrap up his character's storyline.

After Babylon 5, O'Hare continued to act, but appeared on television only sporadically, most notably with two guest roles on Law & Order. He was never a star, or a household name, but to Babylon 5 fans he was something special. After seeing the outpouring of sympathy from fans following the announcement of O'Hare's death, his brother Mark posted a thank-you, which Straczynski shared.

"I want all of Mike's friends and fans a like to know that our family very much appreciates and thank you for all the kind thoughts and words. He was not only my brother but a great friend who I will miss terribly. I can tell you he loved life his craft and being on B5 and all those associated with the show from creator, cast, crew and fans."

O'Hare is the fourth member of Babylon 5's main cast to pass away since the series ended. Richard Biggs, who played Dr. Stephen Franklin throughout the show's run, died in 2004. Andreas Katsulas, who starred as G'Kar, died in 2006. And Jeff Conaway, who played security officer Zack Allan, passed away last year. With O'Hare's passing, Straczynski mused on his Facebook page about a B5 reunion in the great beyond.

"I can only assume from all this that someone in the afterlife has begun pre-production on a Babylon 5 movie," he said.

(Via The Mary Sue)