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Growing up Galactica
Thursday, 08 February 2007

Mike Egnor speaks out for the first time on how Battlestar Galactica changed his life. He talks about growing up with the series as a boy and how it influenced his career. Over 20 years later, he began to think back of the importance of the show. A chance convention with Richard Hatch led Mike to collecting Battlestar Galactica autographs, traveling to another hemisphere to meet and interview his childhood heroes, and founding such websites as BattlestarGalacticAutographs.com and GALACTICA.TV.

I was born in 1971, and grew up in rural West Virginia. At that time, there were three channels. We used an aerial antenna, and if you wanted to change the channel you needed two people. One to go outside and rotate the antenna and one to yell out the window whenever the picture was clear. The first science fiction I saw was reruns of Star Trek. I was amazed about the thought of flying around in space, and the technologies that were involved. I liked the characters, including the thought of a Vulcan, but I never understood how these top of the line officers were so easy to let their personal feelings get in the way. Romances, moods, and unprofessionalism just left me thinking that surely our US troops would never act like this. But I was more fascinated in the idea of phasers, photon torpedoes, shields, and especially transporting a person from one place to another.

And then came Star Wars. I was six, and it was the very first movie I ever saw in a theatre. Can you imagine seeing that movie for the first time? Needless to say I haven't seen one since that lived up to it. I can remember to this day how I was so anxious and on the edge of the set I was at the beginning of the movie when R2D2 and C-3PO were walking all around laser fire and hoping they wouldn't get shot. The movie was fantastic, with a classic good vs. evil, believable aliens, and believing in doing something greater than yourself. The problem I had with it is that I couldn't identify with the characters. They had such an alien background, and they were involved with such superhuman events, that I just didn't feel like it resonated with me.

But then, in 1978, I saw Battlestar Galactica: Saga of a Star World. It was everything I had ever wanted. The technology was there. Battlestars, baseships, and who didn't think the vipers were the coolest thing ever? I remember playing as a kid flying around in viper, which was nothing more than me running around outside with a block of wood and the three buttons drawn on. But what it had that I missed was the characters. These guys were brave, took orders, and fought for their very survival. When in combat, you saw Apollo, Starbuck, and Boomer being completely professional and taking on Cylons when they were vastly outnumbered. When they weren't on duty, you saw Apollo falling in love with a woman and taking her son as his very own. Starbuck, though he couldn't decide on one woman, was quite the swashbuckler, and had genuine love in his hearts for his friends.

Of course even this show had some flaws. Even at a young age, I noticed the recycled special effects of the same viper shooting down the same Cylons. And with Galactica 1980, I was let down because Apollo, Starbuck, and the rest weren't there. But still I thought, any Galactica was better than no Galactica at all.

What it also gave me was a great interest in math and science. I graduated with a degree in chemical engineering and went on to a master's degree in environmental engineering.

I didn't think back on Battlestar Galactica until many years later. I guess when you get older, you think about and reflect on things in your past. I thought about how that show helped shape me into the person I am today. So when I saw that Richard Hatch was appearing at a convention in Columbus Ohio, I bought an old Battlestar Galactica movie poster and drove out to see him. And it was genuine amazement to meet him in person. Here is the man I idolized as a young boy, and I was privileged enough to meet him in person. During this time, he was promoting his ideas for a continuation and was showing his art and ideas to anybody that would listen. I didn't listen much, as I was in awe of him. Jack Stauffer was also there, and I was just thinking at the time that I was the luckiest guy in the world.

Mike Egnor 

So then I started looking for other conventions. I then met Dirk Benedict in Cleveland, and he was talking about how he was raising his children on his own, and had talked to his kids about cutting his hair. They told him (he said) to keep his assets. The fans loved the hair, so why hurt your career? Then I went to convention in Huntington and Herb Jefferson Jr. showed up unannounced. Well I immediately drove home and got a poster I was getting signed, and it was an hour each way. When Herb saw the poster, he said I must have lived close by. I said: "You have no idea!"

So why did it matter if I got autographs? Well, with meeting people at a convention, you have memories that fade after time. But with me getting something signed, I would have something to constantly remind me of meeting my heroes.

Mike Egnor 

So then, with the internet, I started looking to see what actors had websites. I found Jane Seymour's, and mailed the poster in. But after I got it back, I noticed that it looked kind of ratty, so I decide to buy a new one. Here I came across an extremely lucky occurrence, and if you'll indulge me, I'd like to brag a little. The one I bought (I found out later) was a misprint. It was Style B. Why it was a misprint is that Style A and Style B didn't give credits to Stu Philips, who did the music. So they got rid of the misprints, and came out with Style C and Style D. The other thing is that in the US, at the time, they were usually folded. So I discovered much later that I had an extremely rare Style B that was rolled instead of folded. I've looked since then, and have never found another available.

I then started looking for the actor's and crew's home addresses. Unfortunately, some have similar names, and some move, so I just sent out a small baseball trading card sized picture I made to hope that they were there and would sign it. I decided that I couldn't just keeping mailing the poster out, because sooner or later it might get lost in the mail. And also because they might not live there.

Mike Egnor    Mike Egnor

But it was AMAZING about the response I got. Here are people mostly retired from acting, and they almost always genuinely appreciated that somebody took the time to recognize and thank them for their efforts. Ken Swofford, for example, told me that he was so thrilled that he showed the picture to his grandchildren. Many would write letters back to talk about how great it was to do the show, and stories about things that happened on set. I mailed to Brock Peters and got a response right before his death. I was first feeling guilty that he took time of his few days left to take the time to sign it, but now I feel that maybe, just maybe, he felt happy when I told him how much I enjoyed his performance on the show. Lloyd Bochner also passed on a few months after he signed for me. I hope he felt the same way.

Mike Egnor    Mike Egnor

During this time, I ran across a Battlestar Galactica internet site that had tons of autographs, including many I didn't have. I emailed the guy and asked him if he could share any addresses that he might have. He just emailed back a few websites of some of the actors. He asked about my collection, and I told him about some I had that he didn't, and some that were quite rare. We developed a friendship since then that has gone way beyond a simple hobby of collecting autographs. I decided to start my own website and put my collection up for other fans to see. It's at BattlestarGalacticaAutographs.com. Check it out if you get a chance.

Marcel and I thought wouldn't it be great to share these wonderful stories we got from the actors and crew with the fans, so we started this website that you are now on. We started using the addresses that we got autographs with to ask for interviews to see if we could get them to share more of their experiences. I've talked to some amazing people, and they have great stories, whether it's related to Galactica or not. Nehemiah Persoff told me a great story about his role as the taxi cab driver in On the Waterfront when Marlon Brando said "I could have been a contender".

Mike Egnor    Mike Egnor

Then two events happened that were a major occurrence in the Battlestar Galactica world. The first was that many of the main cast ended up doing a convention in England. Well I checked for plane tickets, and it was $1,400 round trip. So I stayed home, but sent the poster for Marcel to get signed. Then he helped organize a convention in the Netherlands. This was going to also have a large contingent of the main cast. Plane tickets to Holland were $700, but he twisted my arm, and I thought that this might be the last time that they all appeared together. So I flew out, met Marcel in person, got involved in the crew, and worked with him to interview as many of the main cast as we could. The first meant the most to me, as it was my first crush when I was little, Anne Lockhart. She was amazing! As sweet in person as onscreen. I was a little nervous, but mentioned that she was the first woman on tv that I ever had a crush on. She dropped whatever she had in her hands and gave me a big hug. Then the following day at the convention, they asked me who I wanted to be a Personal Assistant to. I was hesitant in case they said no, but Marcel mentioned Anne. I cannot describe the thrill of getting to spend two days with her. On the second day, Marcel had been talking to Terry Carter about doing a website, and Anne had mentioned that she wanted one. So I told her that we had some ideas already, but I was a bit shy to ask. But as you probably know by now, both those sites are up and going strong (Terry Carter - official site & Anne Lockhart - official site).

Mike Egnor
 
Mike Egnor
 
Mike Egnor

Since that con, I've driven out to see and interview Sarah Rush and Jane Seymour. Again, the sweetest, most wonderful people you can meet. We are also continuing with interviews, including people from the new series, and we will be bringing them to you and other great material for years to come.

Mike Egnor
 
Mike Egnor 
 
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