Goodbye, and Thank You, Michael O’Hare.

Michael O’Hare – Image from Midwinter.com

As I said when I started this thing, I wanted to keep the material light and funny. Unfortunately, life has had different ideas. But I’m going to try something right in the middle – a positive post, in memory of someone lost.

Few people will recognise the name in the title of this post, and that is said. Michael O’Hare was a great actor, best known for his role as Commander Jeffrey Sinclair in the TV sci-fi series “Babylon 5”. But I’m not going to regurgitate his filmography – Wiki can do a far better job. I’m going to give a salute, and a little insight, to the man behind the character.

It was my great pleasure to meet Mr. O’Hare many, many years ago when B5 was first hitting the small screen. I met him at a tiny convention in the Chicago suburbs, a low key affair with less than 100 attendees. Most actors booked into such a venue will be introduced, come out on stage, talk for a few minutes, answer a few questions, then go off to a table, sign autographs for an hour, and leave. Low cost for the fan, low effort for the actor.

Not Michael.

He BOUNDED onto the small stage, full of energy, making the audience laugh and applaud wildly as spoke, not only of the new show, but also about various things that happened. (My memory is a bit faded due to the intervening years and medications). He thoroughly entertained that audience, kept us all on the edge of our seats, and left to a standing ovation. And at the autograph table, he signed an autograph for EVERY person – some folks, more than one – and posed for photos as well He refused to leave, despite the con management insisting his time was up, until he made sure that each and every one of us not only got a personalised autograph, but a few moments of one-on-one conversation with him as well.

So, though we’ve lost a key member of an iconic sci-fi franchise, I prefer not to think of that loss. I prefer to remember a small stage in a small auditorium, where a fellow Chicagoan gave me one of the most memorable convention experiences I’ve ever had. I prefer to remember Michael as that passionate, funny, giving man who turned me from casual viewer to devoted fan.

Thank you, Michael.

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23 Responses to Goodbye, and Thank You, Michael O’Hare.

  1. I’m sure Michael is up there smiling and is very appreciative of the kind words you wrote. šŸ™‚

    • I hope so, Mark. Bruce Boxleitner might’ve gotten the credit, but Michael will ALWAYS be the commander of B5. After all, how could I NOT like a relative of Edward “Butch” O’Hare, for whom my hometown airport is named? šŸ˜€

  2. whiteladyinthehood says:

    I have to admit, I’ve never watched Babylon 5. If you like it, I’m sure it’s a good show! He bounded on stage and left with a standing ovation – pretty cool. I like when there is that ‘one’ person who goes above and beyond and doesn’t care about the rules or time constraints and just does the right thing. You always remember those people that stand out in life! (I’m really enjoying your stories).

    • Glad you liked it. I’ve never been as huge a fan of Babylon 5 as I have Star Trek (though I ADORE Claudia Christian), because Bruce Boxleitner (who replaced Michael) never really did anything for me. But Michael was a hoot, and because it was such a small gathering, I expected so little, and got so much. Best bang for my convention buck I ever got! (Well, other than my heavenly weekend with Grace Lee Whitney, but that’s another tale for another day. šŸ˜‰ )

      • whiteladyinthehood says:

        I had to google both of those ladies and then I chuckled to myself….I see why you like them and ahem, I’m sure they are great actresses, too. I love Star Trek (the old-school ones and I’ve seen all the motion pictures, ones)

      • When I was at the height of my autograph collecting, I ended up with a number of multiple autographs, especially several from Grace. So I hung the extras in my cube at work. Mind you, most of them were from “classic” Doctor Who, when one Doctor would have multiple female companions (no nooky in the TARDIS!), so most of the photos were of gorgeous women writing things like “Thank you for a very special weekend” and such. I later found out that, when out-of-town customers would come to our company to check out our software packages, they went to our boss’s office (he was 3 “levels/ranks” higher than me), then IMMEDIATELY came to my cube to check out my “harem”. I understand I had quite the (undeserved) reputation in the field as a ladies’ man….. šŸ˜€

  3. Don’t know much about him or the show, but he sounds like a genuine and considerate person. How cool you got to meet him.

    • Michael was actually part of how I got into helping run bigger conventions. I saw the energy and enthusiasm you COULD get from actors, and wanted to pass that on to my fellow conventioneer. I only met him once, but he’s one of the most memorable encounters I ever had – and I’ve met dozens of actors from BOTH sides of the Atlantic! )

  4. tom says:

    I don’t know SiFi, but sorry to hear of his passing.

  5. Elyse says:

    My husband and I watched that show, way back — it was fun. And so I remember Michael a little bit. He sounds like a cool guy, John. My sympathies.

    • Thanks, Elyse. My wife and I watched the show loyally, but we both could never quite warm up to Bruce Boxleitner. Nothing against Bruce, he’s a darn good actor, but Michael was just …. right … for the part. His interplay with Jerry Doyle (Security Chief Michael Garibaldi) was great fun, especially since Garibaldi was written as a HUGE fan of Daffy Duck (Jerry pushed for that), and Sinclair would deliver some killer lines on Garibaldi’s “taste” with just the faintest hint of a smile.
      Hmmm… I think I have to go find my DVD set….. šŸ˜‰

  6. aFrankAngle says:

    Good tribute John. B5 wasn’t on my radar, although I may have seen an episode or two – but I realize the importance to you.

  7. El Guapo says:

    Especially in episodic tv, the actor seems to bring an awful lot of their persona to their characters.
    Jeffrey Sinclair always seemed (on screen) to be one of the nicest guys.
    Really glad to hear it was true in real life too.

    He brought a great character to life, and I’m sorry to hear he’s gone.

    • I’ve met a lot of actors both from the States and England, and with a few notable exceptions, they’ve all been pretty nice folk – though Michael was truly one of the best.
      Thanks for stopping by – hope all is going okay for you (as much as it can).

  8. This is really a lovely memory. I know of the actor, but didn’t really follow his work too closely. An actor is just a facade. The real man is the one to be remembered, and you’ve done that well. A most sincere tribute! Debra

  9. What a lovely tribute to a good man! I loved Babylon 5–have fond memories of watching in our old house, before we had kids. RIP Michael!

    • Thanks for dropping by, El! We enjoyed B5 as well, as much for the hilarity of Garibaldi’s antics and Ivanova’s dour Russian humour as we did for Sinclair’s steel-jawed leadership. He truly was a delight.

  10. nonnie9999 says:

    i never watched b5, and i’m not really familiar with his work, but it sounds like michael o’hare didn’t let celebrity go to his head. may he rest in peace.

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