'Starsky & Hutch' Star Paul Michael Glaser Channeled Tragedy Into Advocacy and Art

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Jan. 5 2024, Published 5:18 p.m. ET

Paul Michael Glaser
Source: Getty Images

The cardigan has certainly seen its fair share of fame. That's right, I'm referring to the cozy sweater one can usually find hanging on the backs of office chairs the world over because it's somehow always cold at work. In the 1990s, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain brought cardigans into the closets of grunge youths when he famously sported one in Nirvana's MTV: Unplugged special. Fast forward a few years to 1998 when Jeff Bridges as The Dude donned a cardigan that really tied the whole outfit together.

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However there was one cardigan that came before most of them, and it was worn by Paul Michael Glaser in the 1970s buddy cop television show Starsky & Hutch. Paul played Detective Dave Starsky, a Bay Area police officer whose outfits were almost as sassy as his red and white Ford Gran Torino. In the years following the end of the show, Paul chose to go in a slightly different yet still creative direction. What is Paul Michael Glaser up to today? Here's the comfy scoop.

Paul Michael Glaser then and now
Source: Getty Images

Paul Michael Glaser as Starsky (left); the actor in May 2023 (right)

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'Starsky & Hutch' actor Paul Michael Glaser is now an accomplished artist.

In April 2018, Paul had his first solo art exhibit at Cosmo Lofts in Hollywood. He titled it "Act III" because, per The Hollywood Reporter, "being an artist marks the third installment of his decades-long career — first with acting, then writing and directing." The exhibition featured both paintings and digitally produced works of art, the seeds of which were planted when Paul needed an illustrator for a book he wrote.

"My daughter suggested that I should illustrate it myself," he told the outlet. So he did, but then Paul kept painting and eventually grew interested in Photoshop. He was particularly enthralled with the ability to add electronic color with a simple pencil stroke. Soon he had amassed a fair amount of work and the next thing he knew, a friend asked if he would like to show some at a fundraiser in Toronto.

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Under the artist bio on Paul's website, he explains that his "style of artwork emanates from the many facets of my life, both joyous and tragic and full of incredible highs and unbearable lows." The word he uses most to describe his creations is whimsy. Paul strives to create a sense of wonder in everything he makes. It's the questions and the ambiguity that drive him.

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Paul Michael Glaser lost his first wife and daughter to AIDS.

In September 2013, Paul was in Edinburgh performing in a production of Fiddler on the Roof when he chatted with The Scotsman. During the interview, his book Chrystallia and the Source of Light was mentioned. Although it's a young adult novel, Paul describes it as "metaphorically autobiographical." Paul told the outlet that he "wanted to share what I learned about loss and helplessness in life because I’m blessed with lots of lessons."

The loss he is referring to is the death of his first wife and daughter who both died of AIDS. His wife Elizabeth contracted the deadly virus via a blood transfusion while giving birth to their daughter Ariel. No one knew about the disease until Ariel got sick four years later. The whole family was tested and it was discovered that not only were Elizabeth and Ariel infected, but their 1-and-a-half-year-old son Jake was as well. This was in 1985. Ariel died three years later and Elizabeth passed away in 1994.

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Elizabeth Glaser, Paul Michael Glaser, and Ariel Glaser
Source: Getty Images

Paul Michael Glaser with his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Ariel

Before Elizabeth died, she started the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation, which is still going strong today. Speaking of strength, as of the time of this writing Jake is healthy and happy and very close to his father. Paul also had another daughter named Zoe, with his second wife Tracy Barone. They divorced in 2007 but Jake remained close to his stepmother.

A question Paul often asks himself, in the wake of so much tragedy, is what is the purpose of fear in our lives. As he told The Scotsman, Paul believes it exists to "put us in touch with our consciousness and the consciousness of existence. When you are in that place you are at one with everything and no longer helpless."

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