Opinion

David Soul, a Star of the Hit Cop Show ‘Starsky & Hutch,’ Dies at 80

David Soul, a doleful-eyed blond actor and singer who rose to fame portraying one half of a cagey crime-fighting duo on the hit 1970s television show “Starsky & Hutch,” and also scored a No. 1 hit single in 1977 with “Don’t Give Up On Us,” died on Thursday. He was 80.

His death was confirmed in a statement by his wife, Helen Snell, who did not specify a cause or say where he died. He had been living in Britain since 1995 and became a British citizen in 2004.

A Chicago-born son of a Lutheran minister, Mr. Soul had spent nearly a decade appearing on television shows such as “Star Trek” and “The Streets of San Francisco” before he won his career-defining role as Det. Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson on “Starsky & Hutch,” which was broadcast on ABC. It made him a regular presence in American living rooms, as well as a recognized heartthrob, from 1975 to 1979.

As Hutch, Mr. Soul played the coolheaded Midwestern sidekick to Det. Dave Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser), a savvy Brooklynite. The two tooled around the fictional Southern California burgh of Bay City in a red Ford Gran Torino emblazoned with a giant, Nike-esque swoosh on each side while cracking open cases with the help of their streetwise informant, Huggy Bear (Antonio Fargas).

Mr. Soul had first caught the eye of the show’s creators with an icy performance as a vigilante motorcycle cop in “Magnum Force” (1973), the first of several sequels of the 1971 Clint Eastwood film “Dirty Harry.”

Mr. Soul with his co-star of “Starsky & Hutch,” Paul Michael Glaser, who is sitting on the red Ford Gran Torino that was a fixture on the show. It ran from 1975 to 1979.Credit…ABC

He initially had misgivings about the Hutch character, seeing him as nothing more than “bland white-bread,” Mr. Soul said in the 2004 television documentary “He’s Starsky, I’m Hutch.”

“I didn’t like him,” he said. “I wanted to play Starsky.”

Even as old-school tough guys with badges, Detectives Starsky and Hutch stood out on the 1970s cop-show landscape by sharing an onscreen emotional intimacy that was striking for its day. Mr. Glaser later said that their relationship had homoerotic overtones. As Mr. Soul put it in the documentary: “One of the things that ‘Starsky & Hutch” did do was, it made it OK for two men to show their feelings about each other, which we shouldn’t be ashamed of.”

With his place in the pop-culture firmament cemented, Mr. Soul was able to make good on his longtime ambitions to be a pop star.

After releasing his debut album in 1976, he shot to the top of the U.S. charts the next year with the lachrymose ballad “Don’t Give Up On Us.” Owen Wilson, in the role of Hutch, later memorably parodied the song in none-too-loving fashion in a 2004 feature film comedy version of the show, which also starred Ben Stiller as Starsky and Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear.

A full obituary will appear soon.

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