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Interview: Don’t give up on David Soul – just stop asking if he was Starsky or Hutch…

David Soul pictured in 1974
David Soul pictured in 1974

Which one were you, Starsky or Hutch?

That is the question that has haunted David Soul since the 1970s and yet he is an internationally famous singing star and a world-renowned actor of both theatre and the big screen. So, which one was he?

“I was Hutch because I was too tall to play Starsky and I had the wrong colour hair,” says David, tongue-in-cheek. Paul Michael Glaser played Starsky, of course.

“Yes, I still get asked that question and I still get asked many things about the show.

“I guess that is good news, in a sense, because it only ran for four years but had a huge impact and there is no doubt it helped raise my profile and paid a few bills while it lasted.

“I’m truly glad that people liked it and it still has something of a cult following but a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and I have done a few other things since.”

He certainly has. One of those things was to become a permanent resident of Britain and an Arsenal fan.

“I fell in love with Britain many years ago and found myself drawn to live here. I have never regretted it. Over here I wasn’t just Hutch, I was respected for my music and various forms of acting, including the theatre, which I have also loved very much.”

© Allstar / ABC
Starsky & Hutch’s David Soul with Paul Michael Glaser

David is 75 and has had more than his fair share of health issues but has not yet given up on working.

“It’s not just paying bills,” he says. “I was never the sort of person who would have a lot of money stored up for when I got older so I still like to work even though we are OK. There is more to it than that, though.

“Acting and singing and writing are all about expressing yourself and if you have that need it just never goes away. It is not something you grow out of.

“I know all about fighting your way through life. When I was just starting out I was a singer and that paid for me to have acting lessons. Having lessons and getting the work were two different things.”

When he was just nine, David received awards for his piano playing and got his first part in a theatre drama.

“It seemed great at the time but I knew that if I was going down that road it was going to be a very long one,” he says.

“A lot of people decide to become an actor but, really, the choice isn’t theirs – everyone else decides whether or not you are going to be an actor because they are the ones who call the tune.

“I think my music was the most important thing to me. I started to write my own music and sing and play in all kinds of places. I even wore a ski mask on TV so that people listened to my music rather than look at me. That worked for a little while.

“I took other jobs to keep some sort of income while I was trying for acting work. I even made one appearance in the TV series Flipper and hoped that everyone would think it was the performance of a lifetime.

“It wasn’t and it took time for my next job to come in, although I did make appearances in I Dream Of Jeannie and Star Trek.

“I worked in theatres and a couple of other TV series and then played a bad cop in Magnum Force with Clint Eastwood.

“That was what really led to me getting a chance at Starsky and Hutch, and for both Paul Michael Glaser and myself it was brilliant. We had regular work instead of taking part-time jobs as waiters.

“It also gave me the chance to get back into the recording studio and Don’t Give Up On Us was released and went to No.1 just about all over the world.

“Some people wondered why this guy who was all about driving fast cars and flinging himself at bad guys could suddenly think he was a pop star.

“They didn’t realise that I was a singer and musician long before I made any mark as an actor.

“I am still asked about Starsky And Hutch all the time so, yes, it does haunt me but I don’t really mind that.

“My only regret is that I sold my rights to any profit share a long time ago and so I don’t earn anything more from it, although it is still being shown all over the world and still has a cult following.”

© David M. Benett/Getty Images
David with wife Helen in 2015

After the series ended, David Soul’s music career continued to flourish, as did his acting career – both on screen and on stage.

“I don’t think I have ever stopped working, other than when I have had health issues and there have been plenty of those,” he reveals.

“I have never been one of those people who has to star in everything. I am very happy with cameo roles as well as major parts and so I have always been busy.”

David’s music still sells, though he admits: “My voice changed, mostly because of my health, so I can’t really sing anymore but that’s OK. A lot of things change when you go through life. I never had an ambition to be an actor. I thought of being a teacher, I wanted to be a professional baseball player – I came close with that one. I was never driven to be an actor, it just kind of happened. Now I can’t think about stopping.”

There are rumours of several new TV and film parts coming up but David is in no rush.

“I have a fantastic wife in Helen and I have six children, too. I like nothing better than when we are all together. I am still close friends with Paul.

“We knew each other before Starsky And Hutch and have been close friends all these years since.

“So I have a happy life, and especially when Arsenal win. I go to the Emirates as often as possible. I haven’t retired but I don’t chase work, I wait to see what is offered.”

Having appeared with Paul in cameo roles in a Starsky And Hutch movie remake, maybe the detective duo can make a comeback?

“I don’t think so,” says David. “It wasn’t that good the first time, it just caught the imagination and everyone liked the car. I liked the car. Maybe the car could make a comeback but I don’t think Paul and I could run around like we used to.

“We used to roll out of the car while it was still moving sometimes – that might be just a little bit difficult these days!”

David Soul’s life has changed, of course, but he is still as quick as ever in his mind so whatever you do, if you meet him, don’t ask which one he was and especially – Don’t Give Up On Him.