Richard Hugh Lynch (1940-2012) was an American actor best known for portraying villains in films and television.
Lynch was one of seven children from a Brooklyn-Irish Catholic family; his younger brother Barry also became an actor. Through his parents Lynch held Irish citizenship and frequently visited the country. After a spell in the US Marine Corps, he studied theater at Herbert Berghof's HB Studio and the Actors' Studio
Lynch appeared in dozens of on- and off-Broadway plays. In 1965 he played Louis XIII opposite Anne Bancroft and Jason Robards in Michael Cacoyannis's production of John Whiting's The Devils. Eleven years later Tony Richardson directed Lynch and Vanessa Redgrave in Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea, and in 1977 he appeared opposite Al Pacino in The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel.
The son of an alcoholic, Richard Lynch began using drugs himself. Then in 1967 he had an accident in Central Park, setting himself on fire in the middle of an LSD trip. After massive reconstructive surgery he eventually rebuilt enough confidence to return to acting. His height and distinctive scarred appearance made him ideal casting for villains in sci-fi, fantasy and horror films, and he became a favorite character actor among cult film fans.
The year after his accident, Lynch appeared with Timothy Leary in the documentary LSD – Trip to Where? The scarring, along with his six-foot frame, brought him roles as cops, heavies and the like. His film debut came in Scarecrow (1973, with Gene Hackman) in which he played a thuggish prisoner. Two years later he was a cop in the Xaviera Hollander biopic The Happy Hooker.
The following year saw him in a more substantial role. In Larry Cohen's fantastically subversive God Told Me To, random murders are carried out by New Yorkers who use the title of the film to explain their crimes. Each of these events is presaged by an appearance from a strange Christ-like figure played by Lynch.
His TV appearances included episodes of Police Woman and The Streets of San Francisco (both 1977) and The Bionic Woman (1978). He also played three different roles in Starsky and Hutch (1975, 1978 and 1979) and has the distinction of appearing on three different incarnations of the original Battlestar Galactica franchise, also playing a different character in each series' appearance.
In between, Lynch had secured a couple of starring roles. In the film Delta Fox (1979) he played an ex-con who gets tied up in a labyrinthine kidnapping plot. He turned his scarring to good effect, deflecting questions about it to add to the mystery of his character's back story. His widely praised TV movie Vampire was intended as the pilot for a series.
In 1981 he starred in a TV series titled The Phoenix, which was a story about an archaeological expedition to Peru resulting in an alien discovery. This series (which was cancelled after 5 episodes) would be Lynch's only starring role on a television series, and he returned to B-movies and television. In 1985, he played the first of several Soviet terrorists in Chuck Norris's Commie-basher Invasion USA (not to be confused with Experiment #602).
Lynch's work with Menahem Golan and his cousin Yoram Globus included portraying a Soviet general in Armstrong (1998), an Irish ambassador in Lima: Breaking the Silence (1999), and another scene-stealing role in Death Game (2001).
Lynch's height and a Rutger Hauer-ish mane of silver-white hair brought a certain authority, allowing him to play the US President in the Mexican wrestling drama Mil Mascaras and the Aztec Mummy (2007). That year also saw him in a somewhat mainstream hit – to the satisfaction of cult film fans – with Rob Zombie's remake of 1978's Halloween in which he played the small role of the headmaster of Michael Myers' school.
On June 19 of 2012, Lynch was found dead in the kitchen of his home in Palm Springs, CA. According to his spokesperson Mike Baronas, who explained the details of his death in an official statement, one of Lynch's friends found Lynch dead on the kitchen floor of his home after not hearing from him for a few days. He was believed to have died from natural causes, as no investigation into the cause of his death was made.