May 24, 2004

From the stars we came, to the stars we return.

Author Peter David today reports the passing of Richard Biggs, the actor who played Dr. Stephen Franklin on Babylon 5. I did a little further digging and found this from the series' creator, J. Michael Straczynski, posted to the newsgroup rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated:

We're still gathering information, so take none of this as firm word, but what seems to have happened, happened quickly. He woke up, got up out of bed...and went down. The paramedics who showed up suggested it was either an aneurysm or a massive stroke.

Dr. Franklin was one of B5's most morally complex characters. Raised in a strict military home by his father, a celebrated war hero, he chose to study medicine rather than follow the military career that was expected of him. Estranged from his father for many years, they were reconciled in the second-season episode "Gropos." Franklin was often sanctimonious about the habits of his co-workers, while he himself alternately denied and fought an addiction to stimulants that cost him his post. A third-season subplot involved Franklin on "walkabout," in which he wandered the station trying to find himself. A rigorously ethical man, he once destroyed his extensive xenobiology research rather than allow it to be used by the Earth Alliance to build biological weapons. In one of the most morally poignant B5 episodes, "Believers," Franklin defies orders and violates the religious beliefs of an alien family visiting the station to perform lifesaving surgery on their child - only to discover that they consider him defiled by being cut open like an animal and have put him to death themselves. Sometimes portrayed as an arrogant scientist, Franklin was also a fervent believer in "Foundationalism" - a syncretistic religious movement not well defined in the B5 universe, but appearing to be a sort of cross-species Unitarianism.

Thank you, Richard, for bringing such an excellent character to life. You will be missed.