O'Hare as Commander Jeffrey Sinclair on Babylon 5.
|Born||Robert Michael O'Hare, Jr.
May 6, 1952
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||September 28, 2012
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Ruth O'Hare (m. 1998–2012; his death)|
Robert Michael O'Hare, Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois. He attended Harvard University, where he majored in English literature, and studied at the prestigious Juilliard School of Drama, as well as with Sanford Meisner.
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.
In 1992, he was cast in the lead role of Commander Jeffrey Sinclair in the science fiction television series Babylon 5. O'Hare remained with the series for one full season; both he and series producer J. Michael Straczynski said the decision for the character to depart was mutual and amicable. O'Hare subsequently reprised the character in a cameo appearance during season two as well as in a two-episode guest appearance in season three, enabling the show to complete the character arc.
Illness, retirement, and death
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 work, his behavior was becoming increasingly erratic and he was often at odds with his colleagues. O'Hare sought treatment for his mental illness, but feared that, as the main character of Babylon 5, taking an extended medical leave of absence would destroy the show just as it was getting off the ground.
Straczynski offered to suspend the show for several months to accommodate O'Hare's treatment for his mental health; however O'Hare refused to put so many other people's jobs at risk. Straczynski agreed to keep his condition secret to protect O'Hare's career. O'Hare agreed to complete the first season but would be written out of the second season so that he could seek treatment. He reappeared in a cameo appearance early in season two and returned in season three for the double episode "War Without End", which closed his character's story arc. He made no further appearances on Babylon 5.
Although his treatments were somewhat successful, he was never fully cured. Upon O'Hare's brief return to Babylon 5, Straczynski promised again that he would keep his condition secret to his grave. O'Hare told him to "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. O'Hare later had two guest roles on Law & Order, but retired from acting and rarely made public appearances, which led to rumors that he was seriously ill.
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 reasons behind O'Hare's departure from Babylon 5 at presentation about the series at the Phoenix Comicon.
- Straczynski, J. Michael (May 1994). "About Michael O'Hare's Departure". The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5.
As a result of these discussions, it has been agreed that we will have a separation, in the role of the commander. Let me emphasize this very clearly, so there is no chance of miscommunication: this is a mutual, amicable, and friendly separation.
- Original GEnie post Message 560 by Straczynski on Fri May 20, 1994
- on YouTube (explanation begins at 10:50)
- Roth, Dan (28 May 2013). "Straczynski reveals moving story of why Michael O'Hare left Babylon 5". blastr. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "J. Michael Straczynski on Michael O'Hare's battle with mental illness". YouTube. 25 Feb 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- Glenn Hauman (September 28, 2012). "Michael O'Hare: 1952–2012". ComicMix. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
- Roth, Dan (May 28, 2013). "Straczynski reveals moving story of why Michael O'Hare left Babylon 5". Blastr. Retrieved 13 September 2014.