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David Soul, actor best known for his role in the TV series ‘Starsky & Hutch,’ dies at 80

Soul also had a successful singing career, scoring a U.S. chart-topping hit in 1977 with “Don’t Give Up on Us.”
/ Source: NBC News

David Soul, an actor who rocketed to fame in the 1970s as the blond half of the TV crime-fighting duo “Starsky and Hutch” and went on to become a successful pop singer, has died.

He was 80.

“David Soul—beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother—died yesterday after a valiant battle for life in the loving company of family,” Soul’s family said in a statement released by his wife, Helen Snell, on Friday. “He shared many extraordinary gifts in the world as actor, singer, storyteller, creative artist and dear friend. His smile, laughter and passion for life will be remembered by the many whose lives he has touched.”

From left, Paul Michael Glaser, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and David Soul, at the the U.K. premiere of the movie "Starsky And Hutch" in 2004.
From left, Paul Michael Glaser, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and David Soul at the U.K. premiere of the movie "Starsky And Hutch" in 2004.Dave Hogan / Getty Images file

Born David Richard Solberg on Aug. 28, 1943, in Chicago to a Lutheran minister and a teacher, he was an accomplished athlete who at age 18 was offered a contract to play baseball for the Chicago White Sox, according to the biography on his official website.But Soul was drawn to the stage and he launched his acting career as a founding member of the Firehouse Theatre Company in Minneapolis.

Soul first gained national attention in 1967 when he appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show” as “The Covered Man,” a singer who performed while wearing a mask and looked more like a bank robber than a blues singer.

Still, that led him to his first television appearance on “Flipper,” a family-friendly show; “The Covered Man” would later become the title of his 2007 autobiography.

Soul’s big break came when he was cast as Detective Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson in “Starsky & Hutch” opposite Paul Michael Glaser, who played Detective Dave Starsky.

Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul on the set of "Starsky and Hutch" in 1975.
Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul on the set of "Starsky and Hutch" in 1975.ABC via Getty Images

The show, which ran from 1975 to 1979, became one of the most popular TV shows of all time and turned Soul and Glaser into small-screen stars.

Earlier, Soul — an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War -- played the part of “Swede” in the 1971 anti-war movie “Johnny Got His Gun.”

Soul also had a successful singing career, scoring a U.S. chart-topping hit in 1977 with “Don’t Give Up on Us.” His next single, “Silver Lady,” was No. 1 in the United Kingdom.

For the next decade, he continued to work regularly on TV. But in the 1990s, he decamped for Britain where he launched a new career as a stage actor on the West End, which is London’s equivalent of Broadway.

Soul eventually made London his home, becoming a British citizen and a regular presence on British TV.

Married five times, according to various biographies, he fathered five sons and a daughter.

In recent years, Soul suffered from cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. But he never lost his sense of humor.

Just months before he died in a London hospital, Soul pitched the idea of reprising the roles he and Glaser made famous in the reboot of “Starsky & Hutch.”

“Every article mentions the ‘original’ actors by name,” Soul posted on X. “So why not just reboot Paul and me—as a couple of old farts solving piddly-ass crimes at the assisted living facility where we would now live? Who can do Starsky and Hutch better than him and me?”

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.