Just a quick post here, to pay respect to Jerry Doyle, who has just died.
The news of his passing, at the age of 60, caught me off-guard. Known to some as a talk radio host, to others as a right-libertarian political commentator, he was also founder of the popular content platform Epic Times.
Whatever else he was to whoever else, he will always to me be Michael Garibaldi, the loveable, hard-headed Security Chief aboard Babylon 5.
Being UK-based, I never got to listening to his radio shows – though I know they were very popular. But Babylon 5 will always remain a valued part of my cultural/consciousness edifice and mythology; and Jerry Doyle’s role in that seminal and groundbreaking sci-fi series is one of the key, immediate things that comes to mind whenever I think of the show.
I was never a particularly big fan of Bruce Boxleitner’s John Sheridan: for me, it was Doyle’s Garibaldi and the late Richard Biggs‘ Stephen Franklin that I had the most natural affection for when it came to the show’s human faces (even if it was generally Andreas Katsulas, Peter Jurasik and Mira Furlan acting through thick alien make-up who tended to have the richest character development).
Garibaldi, more than anyone, was the regular guy: he could’ve just as easily been a beat-cop in a contemporary New York or New Jersey district. Amid all the oddness, otherwordly phenomena or high drama all around him, it was Garibaldi who was perhaps the most relatably human character in the mix. And Jerry Doyle brought his brand of easy, likable charm to that role, giving the show a more down-to-earth dynamic that might’ve otherwise been missing.
It continues to be both sad and curious that so many of the actors from that show have died already.
It was only twenty years ago, after all; and if we look at the Star Trek casts, for example, almost all of the actors from TNG, DS9 and Voyager are still alive, active and in good health. Yet from Babylon 5, Richard Biggs (who was very, very young), Andreas Katsulas, Michael O’Hare, and Jeff Conaway have all passed on already, along now with Jerry Doyle.
It is very sad; and I know, for a lot of the show’s loyal fans, a source of continuing dismay.
One of my favorite memories of Jerry Doyle is a comic-con appearance he made in Phoenix with J. Michael Strazynski and much of the B5 cast for the B5 20th anniversary, in which he tells a hilarious anecdote from when he used to share a house with his B5 co-star (also deceased), Andreas Katsulas: a story about how Katsulas was his character, G’Kar, in real life. With his easy charm and laid back manner, Doyle was a fantastic anecdote storyteller, as is evidenced in the clip below. It’s no wonder, therefore, that he found a natural place in talk radio.
In the same appearance, Doyle also shared the truth about how he had already almost died himself, having been in a coma for days.
He then proceeds to tell the audience how his own near-death experience changed his outlook on everyday life, making him grateful for every single moment.
It seems remarkably bittersweet to reproduce his statements here now, given what has happened; but this is what Doyle said. “Since that day three years ago, I have not missed a sunrise. We don’t know when it’s over; but as long as we’ve got today and you’ve got a choice – why would you choose to make it a bad day?”
It sounds like a sentiment that could’ve easily lifted right out of a Babylon 5 script. But it was, more importantly, Doyle’s advice to fans for how to live life and not take a single day for granted.
RIP, Jerry Doyle.