Remembering David Soul: The Iconic Star of Starsky & Hutch has Died at 80.

Remembering David Soul: The Iconic Star of Starsky & Hutch has Died at 80.

In the realm of television, certain figures etch themselves into our collective memory, becoming synonymous with an era or a particular show. David Soul, celebrated for his defining role as Detective Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchinson in the iconic television series Starsky & Hutch, recently bid farewell to the world at the age of 80. His passing marks the end of an era and prompts a reflection on his multifaceted career, personal journey, and lasting impact on the entertainment industry.

Early Life and Musical Beginnings:

Born as David Solberg on August 28, 1943, in Chicago, Soul’s early years were marked by a unique blend of experiences. His father, Dr. Richard Solberg, a professor and ordained minister, moved the family to post-World War II Berlin, where he served as a religious affairs adviser to the US high commission. It was during this time that Soul’s fascination with music began to blossom.

In his teenage years in Mexico, where his father taught at a college for young diplomats, Soul formed connections with a group of radical students. These newfound friends not only gifted him a guitar but also imparted the indigenous songs of Mexico. This cultural immersion laid the foundation for Soul’s early career as a folk singer.

Upon returning to the US, Soul found success playing these indigenous songs around Minneapolis. However, it was a pivotal decision to adopt the persona of “The Covered Man” that propelled him into the spotlight. The mask-wearing folk singer was signed by the prestigious William Morris Agency, leading to numerous appearances on popular TV talk shows, including the highly-rated Merv Griffin show.

Transition to Acting and Early Television Roles:

As “The Covered Man,” Soul enjoyed a surge of popularity; however, when he decided to shed the mask and reveal his identity, bookings dwindled. Undeterred, he redirected his creative energies toward acting. Soul’s early acting career saw him in roles on television shows such as Star Trek, Here Come The Brides, Perry Mason, and Johnny Got His Gun during the 1960s and 1970s.

Breakthrough with Magnum Force and Starsky & Hutch:

Soul’s breakthrough came when he portrayed Officer John Davis in Clint Eastwood’s police drama Magnum Force. This role paved the way for his most iconic portrayal, that of Detective Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchinson in Starsky & Hutch. The classic crime-solving series, which ran from 1975 to 1979, paired Soul with co-star Paul Michael Glaser.

The on-screen chemistry between Soul and Glaser became legendary, and Starsky & Hutch quickly became a cultural phenomenon. The show’s mix of gritty crime drama, humor, and the camaraderie between the two detectives captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. Soul’s portrayal of “Hutch” showcased his versatility as an actor, blending toughness with a touch of charm.

Starsky & Hutch’s Impact and Cultural Legacy:

Starsky & Hutch wasn’t merely a television series; it was a cultural touchstone of the 1970s. The iconic red-and-white Gran Torino, the dynamic duo of Starsky and Hutch, and their unique crime-fighting style left an indelible mark on the era. The show’s influence extended beyond television, shaping the way audiences perceived crime dramas and buddy cop partnerships.

The success of Starsky & Hutch led to a 2004 remake, with Ben Stiller taking on the role of Starsky and Owen Wilson as Hutch. Even in this reimagining, Soul’s legacy was honored, and the chemistry between the two lead characters remained a pivotal aspect of the film.

Return to Music and Post-Starsky & Hutch Career:

Following the success of Starsky & Hutch, Soul briefly returned to his musical roots. He released four albums of soft rock ballads in the late 1970s, with two singles, “Silver Lady” and “Don’t Give Up On Us,” reaching the number one spot on the UK charts. The fervor surrounding his music was undeniable, with a New York Times review describing scenes of “camera-wielding teenage girls charging the stage” during his concerts.

However, Soul’s career took a different turn after a period of personal challenges. His arrest in the 1980s for attacking his then-wife, Patti Carnel Sherman, marked a tumultuous chapter in his life. Despite this setback, Soul demonstrated resilience and remorse, using his experiences to raise awareness about domestic violence. He visited prisons to speak to inmates on the subject, acknowledging his regret and advocating for change.

Personal Life and Legacy:

Soul’s personal life reflected the complexity of the human experience. He was married five times, with his unions including actresses Sherman, Mirriam Solberg, Karen Carlson, and Julia Nickson. Throughout his journey, he became a father to six children. His fifth and final marriage was to Helen Snell, whom he met while performing in the play Deathtrap. Describing her as his “soulmate,” their connection became a significant anchor in his life.

Despite facing personal challenges, Soul’s impact extended beyond the screen and stage. His commitment to addressing domestic violence showcased a depth of character beyond the roles he portrayed. The regret he expressed for his past actions and the subsequent efforts to effect positive change underscored a commitment to personal growth and societal betterment.

David Soul’s departure leaves a void in the entertainment world, but his legacy endures through the characters he brought to life, the music that resonated with fans, and his advocacy for social issues. From the masked folk singer to the beloved “Hutch” of Starsky & Hutch, Soul’s journey traversed diverse artistic landscapes.

As we remember David Soul, we celebrate not only the actor but the man who embraced the highs and lows of life, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of those who laughed, cried, and danced to the rhythm of his career. In the annals of television history, the name David Soul will forever be synonymous with an era of cool detectives, red Gran Torinos, and the enduring power of storytelling.