David Soul

Active - 1971 - 2016  |   Born - Aug 28, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Crime, Mystery, War, Thriller

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Biography by Hal Erickson

The son of a Chicago minister, actor David Soul actually launched his career as a folk singer. Born David Richard Solbert on August 28, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois, David moved to Mexico during his youth, when his father took a lengthy assignment as diplomatic advisor for the U.S. State Department. The experience (and the Mexican environment) engendered in young Solberg a permanent love of indigenous folk music. For the remainder of his youth, the whole world was Soul's backyard as his father was transferred from post to post during the 1950s and early 1960s. The blossoming performer could never quite shake either his inbred wanderlust (he attended Augustana College in South Dakota, the University of the Americas in New Mexico, and the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis) or his musical inclinations.

After impulsively deciding to become a stage performer, and studying with the legendary Uta Hagen in New York, Soul definitively opted to embark upon a singing career. From 1966 to 1967, the performer turned up as the hooded "mystery singer" on the syndicated television talkfest The Merv Griffin Show. At about the same time, Soul also landed gigs opening for musical acts including Frank Zappa, The Lovin' Spoonful and The Byrds. The singer's decision, not long after, to finally remove his "mask" on television and reveal himself to the public backfired; it took away the novelty, and made it eminently more difficult for Soul to book concerts.

Taking this as a cue, the actor returned to television, and was cast as Joshua Bolt on the 1968 TV adventure series Here Come the Brides, co-starring with another promising vocalist, Bobby Sherman. While Sherman became an instant teen idol, Soul would not truly hit it big until 1976, when he was cast as urban cop David Starsky and teamed with Paul Michael Glaser on the cop series Starsky and Hutch (1975-79). During the series and immediately following its cancellation, Soul attempted to trade off of his tube success by revitalizing his recording career, but did so with intermittent success; his syrupy ballad "Don't Give Up on Us" (parodied by Owen Wilson years later during a scene in the 2004 big-screen movie Starsky & Hutch) peaked at #1 in 1977 and became an FM and then AM radio staple for decades, but his albums charted much lower and did little to further his musical success.

The actor went on to star in the TV weeklies Casablanca (1983, in the Bogart role!), The Yellow Rose (1983-84), Unsub (1989), and the telemovie adventure Pentathalon (1994). He also made a cameo alongside Glaser at the conclusion of the aforementioned Starsky & Hutch movie. Married several times, Soul's ex-wives include Karen Carlson, Lynn Marta, and Julia Nickson.

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  • Spent part of his childhood in post-war Berlin, where his minister father worked for Lutheran World Relief.
  • Was offered a contract by the Chicago White Sox to play professional baseball when he was 19.
  • First appeared on television on The Merv Griffin Show as "The Covered Man," singing while wearing a mask.
  • Had a No. 1 hit single in the United Kingdom in 1976 with Don't Give Up on Us.
  • Released his fifth album of original songs, Leave a Light On, in 1997, 17 years after his previous release, 1980's The Best Days of My Life.
  • Became a British citizen in 2004.