David Soul: Starsky & Hutch actor dies aged 80on January 5, 2024 at 5:16 pm

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His wife Helen Snell said he died “after a valiant battle for life in the loving company of family”.

David Soul looking at the camera in a head and shoulders portrait taken in 1997Image source, PA Media

Actor David Soul, best known for his role in the television series Starsky & Hutch, has died at the age of 80.

His wife, Helen Snell said he died on Thursday “after a valiant battle for life in the loving company of family”.

“He shared many extraordinary gifts in the world as actor, singer, storyteller, creative artist and dear friend,” she said.

“His smile, laughter and passion for life will be remembered by the many whose lives he has touched.”

The US-born actor was best known for his role as Detective Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchinson in the classic crime-solving series Starsky & Hutch.

He starred opposite Paul Michael Glaser in the series, which ran from 1975 to 1979.

He and Glaser reprised their roles in the 2004 remake Starsky & Hutch, starring Ben Stiller as Starsky and Owen Wilson as Hutch.

Stiller paid tribute to Soul by reposting a clip from the original TV series on X (formerly Twitter), accompanied by the message: “Defining 70’s cool. Rest in peace x.”

Soul was also known for his roles in Here Come The Brides, Magnum Force, The Yellow Rose and Salem’s Lot.

The author Stephen King, who wrote the horror novel that Salem’s Lot was based on, said he was “sorry to hear” of Soul’s death.

He also appeared in several British television programmes including Holby City, Little Britain and Lewis. In 2004 he obtained British citizenship.

But he turned down the chance and the lucrative pay cheque to appear on reality television shows, telling the Sunday Times: “These days anybody is a celebrity and, frankly, there’s nothing to celebrate.”

The actor and singer, who was married five times, was arrested in the 1980s for attacking his then wife, Patti Carnel Sherman, who was seven months pregnant at the time.

It was his first offence and charges against him were dropped after he completed a probationary diversion programme.

Soul later spoke of his regret and visited prisons to talk to inmates about domestic violence.

David Soul (left) and Paul Michael Glaser as Starsky & Hutch, leaning on the bonnets of their cars

Image source, Getty Images

Born in Chicago on 28 August 1943 as David Solberg, he spent his childhood between South Dakota and post-Second World War Berlin.

His father Dr Richard Solberg, a professor of history and political science and an ordained minister, moved them to Berlin where he was a religious affairs adviser to the US high commission.

Before he found fame as an actor, Soul started his professional career as a folk singer, warming up audiences for stars like Frank Zappa, the Byrds, and the Lovin’ Spoonful.

He picked up an interest in music as a teenager in Mexico, where his father was a professor at a college for young diplomats.

There, he was befriended by a group of radical students who gave him a guitar and taught him the indigenous songs of Mexico.

Upon his return to the US, he found some success playing those songs around Minneapolis – but it was only when he donned a mask and hid his face that his career really took off.

As “The Covered Man”, he was signed by the William Morris Agency and appeared on the TV talk show circuit, including multiple appearances on the highly rated Merv Griffin show.

But when he decided to lose the mask and reveal himself, bookings dwindled and he turned to acting instead.

Soul appeared in Star Trek, Here Come The Brides, Perry Mason and Johnny Got His Gun, throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Actors David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser of "Starsky & Hutch" attend the Hollywood Show held at Burbank Airport Marriott on February 11, 2012 in Burbank, California

Image source, Getty Images

He got his break as an actor as officer John Davis in Clint Eastwood’s police yarn Magnum Force, about Inspector Harold Callahan, which led to the role in Starsky & Hutch.

Later, after the success of Starsky & Hutch, he returned to music, putting out four albums of soft rock ballads in the late 1970s.

They produced two UK number one singles, Silver Lady and Don’t Give Up On Us, snapped up by adoring fans of his TV persona.

A New York Times review of his first post-fame concert in 1977 described “camera‐wielding teenage girls charging the stage” amidst “the flicker of hundreds of exploding flashcubes and a continual squealing”.

The fervour ended after his arrest and rehab, after which he only recorded one further album – 1997’s self-released Leave a Light On.

Soul was married five times, including to actresses Sherman, Mirriam Solberg, Karen Carlson, and Julia Nickson, and had six children.

He met Snell while performing in Deathtrap, when she was doing public relations for the play, and described her as his “soulmate”.

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