David Soul, best known for playing detective Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchinson on TV’s Starsky & Hutch, died on Thursday. He was 80.
His wife of 13 years, Helen Snell, shared the news in a statement with PEOPLE as she described Soul as a “beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother.”
The actor “died yesterday after a valiant battle for life in the loving company of family,” Snell said.
“He shared many extraordinary gifts in the world as actor, singer, storyteller, creative artist and dear friend,” her statement continued.
“His smile, laughter and passion for life will be remembered by the many whose lives he has touched.”
The Chicago-born actor originally aspired to play baseball with the Chicago White Sox, and then changed course to study to be a diplomat, following in his father’s footsteps, and said his “detour into entertainment was purely accidental,” according to his official website.
He started out pursuing a singing career in New York City before moving to Los Angeles to begin his acting career. Prior to Starsky & Hutch, he made appearances in shows like Star Trek, Here Comes the Brides, All in the Family and Magnum Force, but his performance as Hutch starting in 1975 solidified his career.
The series aired for four years and saw Paul Michael Glaser as Hutch’s partner and fellow detective David Starsky.
In November, Soul said Glaser, 80, “is and will always be my best friend, my brother,” in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter).
Following their run on the hit crime-stopping show, Soul spent years acting and directing various TV shows before moving to London, where he pursued a theater career and made several West End appearances, including in Bill Kenwright’s Catch Me If You Can.
In 2004, he and Glaser reprised their roles as Starsky and Hutch in 2004 in the film adaptation with Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman and Snoop Dogg.
Last year, news broke of a potential reboot of the cop series starring two female characters as the leads. Soul responded to the reports, questioning why he and his original partner couldn’t be the ones to do the reboot.
“Every article [about a reboot] mentions the ‘original’ actors by name. 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?” he wrote on X.
Glaser replied jokingly, “If you’re going to describe me as an ‘old fart,’ Please leave ‘old’ out of it.”
The idea gained some support, though, as comedian and actor Dave Foley replied to Soul’s tweet, “Sounds great. Can I play the upstart 60 yr old who thinks he knows it all but he hasn’t seen s—. PS watched every episode of the original.”
The actor had celebrated his 80th birthday in August, and commemorated the occasion with a statement on X thanking his fans for their well wishes — and for their charitable donations in his name.
He called it a “milestone birthday” as he admitted that he had “never been more touched, and not because of the overflowing good wishes,” but because of “the impressive list of charities so many of you donated to in my name.”
“I sat around the kitchen table on my birthday with precious family and close friends and read each one aloud, so we could discuss, together, the issues they raised and the work they do. I am so moved by the outpouring of support they received from all of you that I really can’t thank you enough for this collective effort,” he continued.
Of the birthday, he said, “You made turning 80 something extraordinarily special. So here’s to my next 80 years. I hope you’ll stay along for the (bumpy) ride. You’re the best! Big kiss and much love!”