The 1970s brought us streetwise detective David Starsky and his more intellectual partner Kenneth ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson. Together, they patrolled the streets and protected the people of Bay City. And don’t forget who they got their insider information from, the flamboyant bad-boy, Huggy Bear. But the real star of the show was the red and white Ford Grand Torino!
Starsky & Hutch was a highly-appraised television series, even having a film adaptation made in 2004. If you were a fan of the show or caught a few episodes over the years, then you’ll love these facts about the crime-fighting duo.
Paul Michael Glaser Hated The Infamous Car
Paul Michael Glaser, who played David Michael Starsky, absolutely hated the iconic red and white car his character drove. First off, he was a General Motors fan, so just the fact that the car was a Ford Grand Torino annoyed him. He also thought the vibrant color was a bit much for a detective’s car. As a result, he made sure to abuse the vehicle as much as he could during shooting.
As cool as the car is, we don’t really disagree with Glaser. Detectives typically drive stealth vehicles that blend in with the crowd. The bright red is a dead giveaway of who is behind the wheel.
The Car Was Almost A Green Chevrolet Camero
Would the car have been as iconic if it didn’t have the red and white paint job? We have no clue! Thankfully, the green car idea got vetoed and we didn’t have to find out. And what if it wasn’t a Grand Torino? Well, maybe Paul Glaser would have liked it a bit better, considering he didn’t care for the Ford.
Originally, the show’s creator, William Blinn, wanted the iconic car to be a green and white Chevrolet Camaro. Did he have Christmas on his mind with the color scheme? Eventually, the producers chose a Ford Grand Torino, but mostly because it cost less than a Camaro.
One Episode Was Inspired By Dolly Parton’s Stalker
Fans might recall the one episode that featured country singer Lynn Anderson. Viewers saw the character be harassed by a deranged super-fan, a storyline that was inspired by Dolly Parton’s true story of having a stalker. In fact, the part was originally written for Parton, but for unknown reasons, Anderson ended up with the part.
Parton’s stalker incident happened at the beginning of her career with her hit song, “Jolene.” The song happened to inspire a super-fan to leave a baby in a box on her doorstep. The baby’s name: Jolene. Parton ended up taking the child to social services and never saw her again.
The Police Captain Was Played By Two Different Actors
In the pilot, police captain Harold Darby was played by Richard Ward. Although Ward did a great job, producers saw Bernie Hamilton playing similar roles to that of the captain. They were impressed with how he portrayed a cop and made the switch for the start of the series.
Even though he was recast, Ward went on to act in several other film productions, including The Jerk, Across 110th Street, and Brubaker, his final film role. He is also a very well-known stage actor, having had roles in the plays Death of a Salesman and, what was Ward’s favorite stage performance, Ceremonies in Dark Old Men.
The French Version Of The Show Was Very Popular
Like many other shows in the mid to late 1970s, Starsky & Hutch was translated into French when it was exported out of North America. Unfortunately, the dialogue didn’t translate over very well, and much of it was ad-libbed, adding goofy humor to the writing.
For example, instead of referring to Huggy Bear by his name, the French translation calls him “Huggy les bons tuyaux,” which translates to “Huggy good tips.” At least they got the general gist of his name down! The show aired in France on TF1 between 1978 and 1984, expanding to other channels during that time.
Ford Grand Torino Popularity Shot Through The Roof
Even though one of the main actors didn’t care for the iconic Grand Torino, that didn’t stop the public from falling in love with the car. This make and model was produced between 1968 and 1976, and once the show aired, it became wildly popular.
It’s not clear how many of the cars were used during filming. Paul Glaser even admitted to “abusing” the cars while on set because he didn’t like the make and model. Even so, Ford made 1,300 special-edition Starsky & Hutch versions of the Grand Torino. In 2014, one of the cars used while filming was signed by the cast and sold for $40,000.
Viewers Wanted To See Less Violence
In 1977, Starsky & Hutch was considered to be one of the most violent shows on network television. They had to clean up their act, due to a 25-year war on violence in television that, until 1977, had been at a stalemate. The people for anti-violent television believed that actual violence in America was a direct result of the television programs they were watching.
This meant that the producers had to come up with a different story-line for the series, making it a bit more “romantic.” Thus, the bromance of Strasky and Hutch was born! With less action, the two actually had to converse with each other.
Considered To Be TV’s First Heterosexual Love Affair
With the lack of violence after 1977, viewers saw a change in the characters of Starsky and Hutch. They were talking to each other a bit more and it even seemed romantic at times. Many fans in the LGBTQ+ community like to fantasize that the two cops were more than just friends. Fanfiction has even been written about the two!
Some people believe that Starsky and Hutch were the first working gay couple on television, even though it’s still up for debate. Producer Aaron Spelling didn’t think the statement was that far off, revealing that he and other producers would say that they were “TV’s first heterosexual love affair.”
David Soul Is Now A British Citizen
David Soul, the actor who played Hutch, is a Chicago native now residing in London. He is a 73-year-old stage actor in the West End of London, having gained his citizenship there in 2004. Granted, he still has his United States citizenship, but we don’t think he’s coming back anytime soon.
In The Sunday Post, Soul, says, “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.”
The Original Starsky And Hutch Had Cameos In The 2004 Film
Both Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul have small guest parts in the 2004 film adaptation of Starsky & Hutch. The movie features Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson playing the iconic cop duo and even Snoop Dogg is there to play Huggy Bear.
The original stars appear at the end of the movie as car salesmen. They wind up selling the cops a brand new car to replace their beloved Grand Torino. The movie did fairly well overall, grossing $170 million at the box office when it only cost $60 million to make. Obviously, fans of the original show came out in full force to support the film!
Paul Michael Glaser Didn’t Enjoy Being On The Show
Aside from not like the iconic car, Pual Michael Glaser didn’t really enjoy being on the show altogether. Before the third season started, Glaser actually tried to get out of his contract. He was uncomfortable with the amount of fame that the show had brought him. Not to mention he didn’t like all of the women banging on his door.
Obviously, the producers weren’t thrilled with the idea of losing their star, but they had a back-up plan. The writers introduced Starsky’s younger brother just in case Glaser decided to leave. Ultimately, he stayed on until the end of the series.
Paul Michael Glaser Was Insecure About His Looks
Paul Michael Glaser was so insecure about the way he looked that he made the writers put in scenes where he is referred to as handsome. He made sure that it was written into every episode! The writers were also told to have his character flirt with a bunch of different women to solidify his masculinity.
The actors would ad-lib a few of these “flirtatious” lines because they didn’t like what the writers had come up with. Toward the end of the series, the writers probably wanted to kill off both of the main actors! Talk about being huge divas. Let the writers do their job, boys.
David Soul Is A Double Threat In Entertainment
Hutch actor David Soul is not only a talented television and stage actor but also a musician. He recorded albums from 1977 through 1982. Soul’s love for music started in Mexico when he was studying at the University of the Americas in Mexico City. He was inspired by students who taught him how to play the guitar. The instrument changed his educational direction to study music.
Once returning to the United States, Soul’s first musical appearance was in a club in Minneapolis, The 10 O’Clock Scholar. He gained professional recognition in 1966 on The Merv Griffin Show when he wore a mask and sang as the “Covered Man.”
Bay City Is Fictional But On The Map
Although the show was filmed around the greater Los Angeles, California, area, the Bay City Police Department is actually fictional. There are a few Bay City locations throughout the United States, the most famous being in Michigan, but the city on the show is fake.
Trust us when we say you wouldn’t mistake Bay City, Michigan, with the fake Bay City, anyway. It might have something to do with all of the outdoor shots of sunshine and palm trees as opposed to snow and ice-covered ponds. There’s just something less gritty about a detective show that has a pretty setting.
Huggy Bear Almost Had His Own Spin-Off
Huggy Bear, played by Antonio Fargas, was a flamboyant, street-smart informant who the cops could count on for vital information. Huggy was a popular enough reoccurring character that producers considered making a spin-off series surrounding him. But how to base a show around a snitch? Their idea: make him a private eye!
Unfortunately, the producers messed up and aired the pilot in the normal Starsky & Hutch slot, confusing viewers. Why was the snitch all of a sudden a private investigator? The concept didn’t stick, and Huggy was back to snitching in the next episode. The spin-off was called “Huggy Bear and the Turkey.”
Suzanne Somers Was A Favorite Guest Star
Before landing the role as Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company, Suzanne Somers guest-starred on Starsky & Hutch as three different characters: Jane Hutton, Linda Offenbecker, and Sally Anne Sloane. Her various appearances made her the show’s favorite guest star of all time.
In the ’70s, everyone was obsessed with the beautiful blonde, so it’s no surprise that one of the more popular television series at the time had her guest star more than once. Even though it was cheesy, she probably helped “The Vampire” episode get the 7.5/10 rating that it has on IMDb. If you haven’t seen it, the “special effects” are quite something.
The Show Was Inspired By Real Cops Of The NYPD
Starsky & Hutch was inspired by the real-life exploits of New York police officers David Greenberg and Robert Hantz. The two ultimately became detectives and were known as “Batman and Robin” because of their hardline approach to fighting crime in Brooklyn. Greenberg and Hantz grew up together on Coney Island in New York before joining the NYPD together.
Greenberg retired from the police department in 1975 and was elected as an Assemblyman. Hantz wasn’t far behind, leaving the NYPD after being demoted back to a regular cop. Ironically, both of the former cops ran into legal issues over the years.
There Was A Cast Reunion In 2013
For the fans, Starsky and Hutch, aka Glaser and Soul, returned to Los Angeles for a cast reunion in 2013. They even caught up with the stars of the movie remake, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Fans couldn’t help but compare the two original stars to their characters. Whereas their characters wore trendy outfits built for style, the actors now sported clothing that was definitely made for comfort.
It makes sense though, considering Glaser is 70 and Soul is 69. There is no need for them to rock bell-bottom pants. They’ve paid their dues! One member of the cast that didn’t change was the Grand Torino!
Hutch Got Botulism While He Was Hiding From Starsky
In one particularly tense episode, Hutch goes into hiding to prove he’s smarter than his partner, but not before he contracts a bad case of botulism. If you’re not familiar, the illness is caused by the botulinum toxin, which causes paralysis. The paralysis starts in the face and spreads to the limbs. If the disease reaches the breathing muscles it can result in respiratory failure.
That would have been a bad death for one of the lead characters! The episode has the viewers on pins and needles because Starsky doesn’t know where Hutch is hiding. Of course, he ends up finding his partner and saving his life.
‘Stache Season For The Clean-Shaven Hutch
By the fourth season of Starsky & Hutch, viewers tuned in to the first episode only to be graced with David Soul’s character, Hutch, rocking a caterpillar-like mustache. The reviews were scattered: some people liked it, some people hated it, and some people didn’t care one bit.
The thing is, when you’ve been on a show clean-shaven for almost four decades you probably need to do something to liven up your character. Why not facial hair? In the 1980s, it was said that a mustache was a form of masculinity. Maybe Hutch grew one because he felt like his masculinity was being threatened?