How ‘Starsky & Hutch’ Star Paul Michael Glaser Overcame the Loss of His First Wife and Daughter
Paul Michael Glaser, the actor best known as Detective David Starsky on the 70s show “Starsky & Hutch,” lost his first wife and daughter to AIDS within six years.
Born in March 1943, Glaser’s acting career began in Broadway in the 60s. After that, he started working on popular TV series such as “The Waltons,” “Kojak,” “The Streets of San Francisco,” and “The Rockford Files.”
"Somehow you put one foot in front of the other, and you get through it."
Paul Michael Glaser’s career
It was in 1975 that he rose to stardom thanks to the show “Starsky & Hutch.” The ABC project was broadcast from 1975 to 1979, totaling four seasons and 93 episodes.
The action TV series followed the lives of two Southern California police detectives: Starsky (played by Glaser) and Hutch (portrayed by David Soul). They fought crime around the fictional Bay City in California.
When his time on the show finished, he kept working in the entertainment industry and even served as a director in different projects, including the 1987 movie “The Running Man,” and the 1992 film “The Cutting Edge.”
Apart from that, he directed some episodes of highly-popular TV series, including “Miami Vice,” “Robbery Homicide Division,” and “Judging Amy.”
Dealing with the deaths of two family members
Although his career has been very successful, his personal life has been quite difficult as he has experienced two of the worst things in a person’s life: the passing of his daughter and wife, respectively.
Paul Michael Glaser’s first wife was AIDS activist Elizabeth Meyer. The couple tied the knot in 1980 and, only one year later, they welcomed their first child, Ariel, to the world.
Unfortunately, Meyer’s condition got complicated and had to get a blood transfusion to save both her life and that of her then-unborn child. What nobody knew, however, was that it was contaminated with HIV.
To make matters worse, Meyer didn’t know that she had contracted the illness until five years later. At that point, she had unknowingly passed the virus on Ariel through breast milk and to her son Jake, who was born in 1984, while he was in utero.
Creating the Pediatric AIDS Foundation
Sadly, the only drugs on the market to fight the illness at the time were intended for adults, so Ariel ultimately passed away in 1988 at seven years of age.
Soon after that, Meyer and her friends Susan DeLaurentis and Susie Zeegen co-founded the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Meyer couldn’t see how important her foundation would become, unfortunately, as she lost her battle with AIDS in 1994. To honor her legacy, the foundation was renamed the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
After Ariel and Meyer’s passing, Glaser, who never contracted the illness thanks to a “rare mutant gene that resists the virus,” was full of “rage, anger, and guilt” that he couldn’t do anything to stop it.
Coping with his loss
Although he initially would ask “why me?” his questions eventually turned darker: “why not me?” The actor even admitted that in his darkest moments, he “probably thought about ending it.” Glaser said that,
“Nothing made sense, even that. I liken it to being a soldier in Vietnam. Somehow you put one foot in front of the other, and you get through it.”
When Meyer died, Glaser kept himself very active in the entertainment industry and would also campaign for the foundation. The actor admitted that he fought that long and painful journey to come to terms with his grief.
At some point, he was approached by writers to create his autobiography, but the pain was so severe that revisiting those dark days was impossible.
Publishing a book to help others
“About a teenage girl and her nine-year-old brother whose mom is dying, on a journey in a underground world where everyone and everything is made of crystals and minerals, searching for the source of light.”
The actor admitted that acknowledging the fear that hit him when he realized he couldn’t do anything to prevent death or know what comes after it taught him to be compassionate of himself. Glaser’s intention with his book is to help others find compassion, too.
At the moment, he is still working as an author and in the entertainment industry. The last TV show he participated in was the fifth season of “Grace and Frankie,” released in 2019. Jake, his son, continues to work with the foundation.
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