David Soul, of TV's Starsky and Hutch, dies at 80

David Soul, photographed at Cannes in 1996. The Starsky and Hutch star has died at 80. Photo:...
David Soul, photographed at Cannes in 1996. The Starsky and Hutch star has died at 80. Photo: Getty Images
Actor-singer David Soul, a 1970s heart-throb who co-starred as the blond half of the crime-fighting duo Starsky and Hutch and topped the music charts with the ballad Don’t Give Up on Us, has died at the age of 80.

His wife, Helen Snell, said today NZT that "David Soul – beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother – died yesterday 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," Snell said in a statement. "His smile, laughter and passion for life will be remembered by the many whose lives he has touched."

Born David Solberg, Soul was a Chicago native whose acting career dated back to the 1960s, when he joined the avant-garde Firehouse Theatre in Minnesota. He continued to appear on stage and screen well into the 20th century, but he was best known for his work in the 1970s.

Soul portrayed detective Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson alongside dark-haired Paul Michael Glaser as detective David Starsky in Starsky and Hutch, which ran on ABC from 1975 to 1979 and grew so popular it spawned a line of children’s toys.

He also had success as a singer, starting in 1976 with Don’t Give Up on Us and following with such hits as Going in With My Eyes Open and Silver Lady.

Soul first gained national fame in the 1960s appearing on The Merv Griffin Show as the Covered Man, a singer disguised in a stocking cap who shouted out lyrics such as "That is why I hide my face, because a man has to be free".

His other TV credits included early appearances on Star TrekAll in the Family and I Dream of Jeannie, the miniseries Salem’s Lot and a short-lived version of the film classic Casablanca, in which Soul took on Humphrey Bogart’s role as nightclub owner Rock Blaine.

Soul’s movies included Magnum ForceThe Hanoi Hilton and a cameo with Glaser in the 2004 big-screen remake of Starsky and Hutch, starring Ben Stiller as Starsky and Owen Wilson as Hutch.

By the 1990s, Soul had moved to Britain, where he performed several stage roles. In 2001, he won a libel case against a journalist who called the Dead Monkey, a play that Soul was in, the worst production he had ever seen - without having seen it. He also played the titular talk-show host in Jerry Springer - The Opera in London’s West End.