Like Butch and Sundance, Maverick and Goose and Tango and Cash, Starsky and Hutch are surely one of the most iconic partnerships in screen history. And without doubt, Starsky & Hutch remains one of the most fondly remembered shows of the ’70s. Like all TV series, though, plenty went on behind the scenes. Indeed, these off-camera secrets may well make you see the show in a whole different light.
20. Paul Michael Glaser hated the car
Paul Michael Glaser, who played Starsky, hated the show’s iconic red and white Ford Gran Torino. Firstly, he was a General Motors fan, so the mere fact that it was a Ford annoyed him. In addition, he considered the red to be too garish for a detective’s car. As a result, he made sure to abuse the vehicle as much as he could during shooting.
19. One episode was inspired by Dolly Parton’s stalker story
Fans might remember that one episode in the second season featured country singer Lynn Anderson. The plot saw her being harassed by a deranged super-fan. In fact, the episode was inspired by a true story about Dolly Parton. The part had actually been written for her, but for reasons that are unclear Anderson ended up taking it.
18. The police captain was played by two different actors
Although Bernie Hamilton is lovingly remembered for his role as police captain Harold Dobey, he wasn’t the original pick. Indeed, in the pilot Dobey was portrayed by another actor, Richard Ward. However, the producers then saw Hamilton in similar roles and were so impressed that they made the change.
17. The car was almost green
Would the car have achieved the same iconic status without the red and white paint job? What if it hadn’t been a Gran Torino? Well, that almost did happen. Originally, the show’s creator William Blinn wanted the car to be a Chevrolet Camaro, and a green and white one at that. Eventually, the producers chose a Ford – but only because they were cheaper.
16. The French version was very popular – and very different
Like many other shows at the time, Starsky & Hutch was dubbed into French when it was exported. The dialogue didn’t exactly make the transition intact, though. In fact, much of the translation was ad-libbed, adding in a lot of goofy humour in the process. As a result, the show was regarded as more of a comedy in France, although it was no less successful.
15. Paul Michael Glaser wanted out by season three
No longer just disliking the car, Glaser had decided that he’d had enough by the show’s third season. Indeed, on several occasions he expressed a desire to end his contract. However, a pay rise and greater creative input, including the chance to direct some episodes, tempted him to stay on.
14. The show was inspired by two real detectives
So many ridiculous things happened in Starsky & Hutch over the years that you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was a work of complete fiction. Nevertheless, it was inspired by real NYPD detectives Lou Telano and John Sepe. They donned disguises, drove a red car and dealt with unconventional informants. The pair eventually sued the show for stealing their story, but each received just $10,000 in compensation.
13. Paul Michael Glaser wanted Starsky to get a lot of compliments on his looks
There’s no getting away from the fact that the young Paul Michael Glaser was a handsome guy. But he wanted this to be reaffirmed over and over again. Almost every female character who appeared in the show either flirted with him or complimented him on his looks. Sources suggest that this was done at Glaser’s behest.
12. David Soul and Lynne Marta were in an open relationship for much of the series
Although David Soul was definitely the more reserved of the pair, he certainly had plenty going on off camera. During the show, he was living with actress and singer Lynne Marta, who also appeared in one episode. However, the two still continued to date other people throughout this period.
11. The iconic cardigan only appeared in three episodes
Whenever you see people in fancy dress as Starsky and Hutch, chances are that the Starsky stand-in is sporting the famous cardigan. Yet despite it being so recognisable, Paul Michael Glaser only actually wore it in three episodes. Indeed it would never been seen again after the first season.
10. Starsky & Hutch almost became Baylor and Hutch
When it looked like Glaser was going to leave, the producers had to come up with a contingency plan. As a result, they created “Linda Baylor,” Hutch’s new partner. She was to be played by Roz Kelly. Indeed, several scripts were rewritten to involve her, but after Glaser came back, she only ever featured in one episode.
9. One episode was banned by the BBC
Starsky & Hutch was often violent, and it also dealt with subjects such as rape and addiction. Indeed, one episode proved to be a bridge too far for British views, or so the BBC decided. The episode in question, entitled “The Fix,” featured Hutch becoming addicted to heroin.
8. The violence in the show had to be toned down
The first two seasons of Starsky & Hutch were very action-heavy. In fact, studies at the time revealed it to be the most violent show on prime-time television. However, there were widespread concerns about on-screen violence in America at the time. So as a result, the producers decided to rein in the violence for subsequent seasons.
7. David Soul was in a back brace in season four
Between seasons three and four, David Soul injured himself in a skiing accident and had to wear a back brace. But had he stuck to the tight-fitting wardrobe he’d had during previous seasons, it would have been easy to spot. Consequently, his dress sense changed significantly going into the show’s final season.
6. Huggy Bear nearly had his own spin-off
Wise-cracking informant Huggy Bear was one of the show’s breakout characters. In fact, he became so popular that the producers nearly gave him a show of his own. Moreover, the season two episode “Huggy Bear and the Turkey” was meant as a kind of pilot for said spin-off. But the plans were dropped after it ended up becoming the lowest-rated episode in the show’s history.
5. David Soul used the same gun he had in Magnum Force
Soul was cast as Hutch after producers saw him acting opposite Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry follow-up Magnum Force. In that film, he was seen brandishing a Colt Python. And he had the same gun on his belt in Starsky & Hutch, albeit one that was two inches longer.
4. David Soul’s moustache was an attempt to age him up
David Soul was 35 by the time the fourth season kicked off, but his blonde hair and clean shaven face apparently made him look “naïve” in the eyes of some viewers. As such, the decision was made to give Hutch a ’tache.
3. Starsky had a brother who was meant to take up his mantle
Just as had happened at the start of season three, Glaser again made it clear during the early development of season four that he was reluctant to come back. As a back-up option, another replacement character was devised – Nick Starsky, David’s younger brother. He appeared in the episode “Starsky’s Brother” and would have stepped in if Glaser had departed mid-series.
2. The opening scene of a season three episode is recycled footage
Back then, it was far from uncommon for shows to reuse bits of old footage here and there. But recycling an entire scene was still rare. Nevertheless, the opening of season three’s “The Crying Child” is lifted wholesale from a season two episode called “Nightmare.” Talk about lazy.
1. Starsky was going to die at the end
Starsky & Hutch ended after the fourth season, largely because – surprise, surprise – Glaser didn’t want to come back. And he meant it this time. As such, the original script for the finale, “Sweet Revenge,” had him being fatally shot. It was rewritten several times, with the final version leaving him alive: just in case the show ever made a comeback, of course…