In a tragic incident, South African actor Cliff Simon, known among fans mostly for playing the villainous Ba'al in the sci-fi series Stargate SG-1, died in a kite-boarding accident on Tuesday. He was 58. An emotional message was posted on Simon's Facebook page informing fans that the actor died in the accident on Topanga Beach, near Malibu, California. "He was known to most of you on this page as the villain you loved to hate, Ba’al, from Stargate SG-1. But as he said, 'acting is what I do, it’s only a part of who I am.' And he was SO much more -  a true original, an adventurer, a sailor, swimmer, dancer, actor, author. There is a gaping hole where he once stood on this earth.  He was loved by too many to mention and had a great impact on so many lives." 

To Friends, family and fans, It is with unimaginable heartbreak that I am sharing with you, that my beloved husband,...

Posted by Cliff Simon on Thursday, March 11, 2021

Simon was born in Johannesburg and took a fondness for gymnastics at an early age, including becoming a competition-level swimmer in his youth. His passion for swimming in the early 1980s and the global sporting boycott of South Africa due to Apartheid led Simon's family to relocate to the U.K. for his Olympic aspirations. He subsequently went on to qualify for the Great Britain national swimming squad at the age of 17, including gaining an entry into the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. However, he opted out of the Olympics after feeling burnt out due to years of rigorous training. 

He came back to South Africa to join the military and went on to serve for two years in the air force. Upon the completion of his military service, Simon performed in stage and cabaret shows in South Africa before landing an opportunity to work with the chorus at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. He was named principal dancer in the Moulin Rouge after six months and returned home once again after a year in France. Simon also pursued modeling and got his first big acting break after he won the first-ever Mr. South Africa contest. It was after the success at the pageant when a producer took note of him and offered him a role in the bilingual South African soap opera, Egoli: Place of Gold, in which he played the character Mitch for seven years. 

Simon moved to the U.S. in 2000 for more acting opportunities and landed his first big American role on the hit television show, Nash Bridges. A year later, he landed the part that went on to define his career - the character Ba'al in Stargate SG-1, which he also reprised in the 2008 direct-to-video movie Stargate: Continuum. He played Ba’al on smash hit sci-fi show for five seasons, with the character’s backstory revealed to be hailing from an alien species called Goa'uld, and one of the last System Lords. Cast generally as a villain, Simon's other notable television roles include 24, NCIS Los Angeles, NCIS New Orleans, The Americans, Undercovers and Castle. He became an American citizen in 2005 and published his book, Paris Nights: My Year at the Moulin Rouge, in July 2016.