Michael O’Hare was born May 6, 1952 and passed away September 28, 2012.
Robert Michael O’Hare, Jr., known professionally as Michael O’Hare, was an American actor who performed on stage and television. He was best known for playing Commander Jeffrey Sinclair in the science fiction television series Babylon 5.
O’Hare appeared in a number of theatrical productions on Broadway and in the New York area, including an acclaimed revival of Shaw’s Man and Superman with Philip Bosco and the role of Col. Jessup in the original stage version of A Few Good Men (the role played by Jack Nicholson in the film version).
He was the first white actor nominated by the black theater community of New York for the AUDELCO Award for the Best Actor for his performance in the play “Shades of Brown” which examined the effects of apartheid in South Africa.
He appeared on a range of television shows, including Trapper John, M.D., T. J. Hooker, Kate & Allie, The Equalizer, Tales from the Darkside, and The Cosby Mysteries. In 1992, he was cast in the lead role of Commander Jeffrey Sinclair in the science fiction television series Babylon 5. He appeared throughout the show’s first season in 1994, and made guest appearances in the second and third seasons. He had two guest roles on Law & Order, but retired from acting and rarely made public appearances.
As Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski describes it, during the filming of the first season of Babylon 5, O’Hare began having paranoid delusions. Halfway through filming, his hallucinations worsened. It became increasingly difficult for O’Hare to continue working, his behavior was becoming increasingly erratic, and he was often at odds with his colleagues. Straczynski offered to suspend the show for several months to accommodate treatment; however O’Hare feared that such a hiatus would put the series at risk, and he didn’t want to jeopardize others’ jobs. Straczynski agreed to keep O’Hare’s condition secret to protect his career, and O’Hare agreed to complete the first season, but would be written out of the second season so that he could seek treatment. His departure from the cast was announced without explanation, except that it was mutual and amicable.
His treatments were only partially successful. He reappeared in a cameo appearance early in season two (“The Coming of Shadows”) and returned in season three for a double episode (“War Without End”) which closed his character’s story arc. At that time, Straczynski promised to keep O’Hare’s condition secret to his grave. O’Hare told him to instead “keep the secret to my grave”, pointing out that fans deserved to eventually learn the real reason for his departure, and that his experience could raise awareness and understanding for people suffering from mental illness. He made no further appearances on Babylon 5.
On September 28, 2012, Straczynski posted that O’Hare had suffered a heart attack in New York City five days earlier, and had remained in a coma until his death that day. Eight months later, Straczynski revealed the circumstances of O’Hare’s departure from Babylon 5 at a presentation about the series at the Phoenix Comicon.
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