It was announced just hours ago that Jerry Doyle, best known for playing Michael Garibaldi in Babylon 5 from 1994-1998, has passed away at the age of 60. A resident of Las Vegas, his family have not yet confirmed the cause of death, but the news was posted on his Twitter feed and his verified Facebook page.
Jerry Doyle was most recently known as a talk show host with strong right-wing beliefs, with a show across the US, and the founder of news site Epic Times. A passionate host with moderate right wing beliefs, the first comment on his family’s announcement of his passing was from a woman who admitted she wrote to him after listening to his show last year to tell him she had always been a leftist, and while his show was entertaining, he wouldn’t ‘convert her’. Within an hour he had replied to her: “I’m not out to convert anyone, All I’m trying to do is make you think about things, and dig a little deeper to find the truth”. He may have been a celebrity, but he never thought he was above anybody else. As J Michael Straczynski said in his statement “Regardless of whatever was going on in his life, whether it was marital issues, a broken arm, forced couch-surfing with Bruce and Andreas or other problems, he never once pulled a prima donna on us; he showed up every day on time, knew his lines, and insisted that the guest cast live up to the standards of the main cast.”
Jerry was an orphan, adopted by a police officer and his wife, and raised as their eldest son in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated college in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautics, and was a trained pilot, working first as a corporate jet pilot, and then as a stock broker for a decade. In 1991, he decided he wanted to become an actor, and moved to New York.
His first role on television was with that other noted balding actor, Bruce Willis, in Moonlighting, but Babylon 5 was his first significant starring role, as the station’s troubled and troublesome Chief Security officer, Michael Garibaldi. He commented that he was “A Mick from Brooklyn playing a Wop from Mars“, which was definitely one way to put it. Michael Garibaldi was a blue collar misfit, constantly sabotaging himself because he didn’t think he deserved what he’d achieved, even as he earned the friendship and loyalty of a number of people he himself respected. He valued loyalty, but found trouble trusting others, which was probably the founding of many of his problems, while also ensuring he generally came out on top, though not without a lot of pain and heartbreak.
A touchstone for many viewers as an ordinary guy in an extraordinary situation, he often did the heavy lifting no-one else could or would, because he rarely stopped long enough to realise it was impossible until he was done. We last saw him finally happy, in his own way, with his lost love, Lise. A frequent frenemy of Londo Mollari, a friend to Stephen Franklin when he needed grounding, and a bad influence on Ambassador Delenn’s protege, Lennier, to help him see society beyond his sheltered upbringing before he became a Ranger, Garibaldi was originally there because the first commander of the station, Jeffrey Sinclair, insisted on him. As a burned out, rebellious NCO, Earthforce was about done with him, but Sinclair needed someone who wouldn’t pay games, and he could trust. Constantly trying to keep up with the various agendas of the station’s inhabitants, Garibaldi managed to stay on top of things by the skin of his teeth, but all too often towards the middle and end of the series he was caught in the middle of the escalating crisis, and no-one could entirely be sure if he was an ally or a friend. In the end, though, he came out on top, as he generally did – He was too stubborn, and too loyal to be broken or give up on the people that mattered to him. Though I will always treasure his scenes with Walter Koenig, in his second best known role as the Psi Corps agent Alfred Bester.
Jerry was married to Andrea Thompson, his Babylon 5 co-star from 1995-1997, with the ceremony almost as short as the marriage, Doyle commenting “If the ceremony takes longer than it takes for a margarita to separate, it’s too long“.
Following Babylon 5, Jerry stood for election as a Republican candidate for the US House of Representatives. Defeated by his Democratic opponent, Brad Sherman, he still achieved more than 43,000 votes without spending any money to compete against his opponent. A charismatic and passionate speaker, he then moved into his radio show, the Jerry Doyle Show, described as “the fastest growing show in TRN Enterprises’ history”, and the sixth most popular talk radio show in the United States. He also continued to act, and had his own production company, which he described as “an experiment”.
In 2010 he published a book called “Have You Seen My Country Lately? America’s Wake Up Call” – A look at his life, giving insight into his past, while commenting on the state of american society and the causes of it’s ills as he saw them. It’s reviewed as being quite harsh, and definitely a shock to anyone who bought it for the picture of Mr Garibaldi on the cover!!
I am so devastated at the news of the untimely death of my good friend @jerrydoyle. During the B5 years, he was a great pal, RIP Garibaldi.
— Bruce Boxleitner (@boxleitnerbruce) July 28, 2016
It seems, upon reflection, that far too many of Babylon 5’s alumni, who gave us so much pleasure and made us think so hard, in the 90s and since, have left us too young. Starting with Michael O’Hare, and not forgetting Richard Biggs, Jerry Conaway and Andreas Katsulas, there are many who now await us all beyond the veil. We hope you’ll join us in sending our condolences and sympathies to his family and friends at this sad time.
According to his biography at KDWN, one of the radio stations that syndicated his show, “Doyle has served as President of the Easter Seal Society, Children’s Hospital Board of Trustees and the Multiple Sclerosis Board of Directors. He has raised funds for many charities including Disabled American Veterans, UCLA Medical Center, Breast Cancer, Aids Walk-LA, Cystic Fibrosis and the Motion Picture and Television Fund. He has received numerous awards and accolades including Honorary F-16 Test Pilot, Honorary Naval Aviator and Distinguished Supporter of the Nation’s Space Program.” – Not bad for a Mick from Brooklyn that played a wop from Mars, eh? Let’s all take a moment to acknowledge the Egyptian God of Frustration, and say good bye to a man who felt like a friend, even when so few of us had met him.
"You see, I believe that when we leave a place, a part of it goes with us.. And a part of us remains. Go anywhere in this station, when it is quiet, and just listen. After a while, you will hear the echoes of all our conversations, every thought and word we have exchanged. Long after we are gone, our voices will linger in the walls, for as long as this place remains. But I will admit that the part of me that is going will very much miss the part of you that is staying" G'Kar, Objects in Motion