Paul Michael Glaser is an American actor and producer best known for playing Detective Dave Starsky on Starsky and Hutch.
Musical fans might also remember him as Perchik in the 1971 film adaptation of the stage play Fiddler on the Roof.
Although Glaser attained professional success in Hollywood, his personal life was riddled with pain and misery. Both his daughter and his first wife tragically were infected with HIV back in the late-80s. Unfortunately, both perished shortly after contracting the debilitating illness – leaving a gaping hole in Paul’s heart that has never fully healed.
This is the Glaser family’s tragic story. May it serve as a cautionary tale and a reminder that celebrities are just as human as we are. They are susceptible to the same levels of pain and suffering as everyone else.
Before we get started, we just want to take a moment to send our condolences to the Glaser family for all of the heartbreak they were forced to endure, and may we extend those sentiments to everyone else suffering from the detrimental effects of HIV and AIDS.
Paul Michael Glaser”s Childhood And Early Career
Paul Manfred Glaser was born on March 25, 1943, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He grew up in a Jewish family and was the youngest child of three. His father was an architect and his mother was a homemaker.
Glaser attended the Buckingham Brown & Nichols private school until 1961 when he transferred to The Cambridge School of Weston to complete High School. After graduating he went on to attend Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana where he was roommates with director and producer Bruce Paltrow – Gwyneth’s dad.
Glaser studied theater and English while minoring in architecture. While he was there, he became a pledged member of the Sigma Alpha Mu before graduating in 1966. He went on to earn his master’s degree in fine arts for acting and directing from Boston University in 1967.
It was after finishing up his education that Glaser changed his name and began pursuing his career as an actor. After landing several roles in Off-Broadway productions, he performed in the Broadway play Butterflies Are Free from 1969 to 1972.
In 1970 he was cast in his first screen role as Dr. Peter Chemak on the CBS daytime soap opera Love is a Many Splendored Thing. In 1971, he appeared in his first feature-length film as Perchik in Fiddler on the Roof. He followed that up by reprising his role as Ralph in the film adaptation of Butterflies are free in 1972.
From Starsky And Hutch To The Directors Chair.
For the next several years, Glaser would guest-star on several high-profile television series like The Waltons, Kojak, The Rockford Files, and The Streets of San Francisco. That’s when he caught the eye of Starky and Hutch creator William Blinn and was cast as Dave Starsky.
For four seasons from 1975 to 1979, Glaser and David Soul patrolled the streets of the fictional Bay City, California hunting down villains and cracking cases. The show was a major success and was one of the highest points of Glaser’s professional career.
When his time on the show wrapped up, he kept working in Hollywood and eventually even made a successful transition from actor to director with films like 1987s Arnold Schwarzenegger action-flick The Running Man and 1992s romantic comedy The Cutting Edge.
He also got the chance to direct several episodes of popular TV shows like Miami Vice, Judging Amy, and Robbery Homicide Division.
The Painful Death Of Two Family Members
In 1980, Paul Michael Glaser married his first wife, Elizabeth Meyer, who served as the exhibit director at the Los Angeles Children’s Museum. A year later Elizabeth and Michael were expecting their first child together.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s pregnancy and delivery were far from routine. During her ninth month, she had to be rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after she started hemorrhaging heavily.
By the time she made it to the hospital, she had already lost a lot of blood and the bleeding wouldn’t stop. Elizabeth’s only option for survival was to undergo a blood transfusion where she received seven pints of blood over the course of several hours. To put that into perspective, the average adult woman has approximately 10 pints of blood in their body.
Weeks later while still recovering from the traumatic delivery Elizabeth read an article in the newspaper that detailed the high risk of contracting Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, from blood transfusions. It was a major problem that was plaguing the medical community at the time, and Elizabeth was panic-stricken after learning of the danger that she and her new-born daughter Ariel might have been exposed to.
She called up her doctor and presented him with her concerns. The doctor reassured her that she was more than likely safe and that her ‘nightmare’ was over – but in all reality, it was just beginning.
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Keep watching to find out all of the horrors the Glaser family had to go through and how Paul Michael and Jake Glaser used their grief to help better the world for future generations.
Testing Revealed A Horrific Reality
Four years after their daughter, Ariel, was born, she came down with a mysteriously stubborn illness that perplexed doctors. Eventually, they decided they wanted to test her for HIV, which they told the Glasers was purely a precautionary measure.
To Elizabeth and Michael Pual’s horror, Ariel’s test came back positive. Each member of the Glaser family was subsequently tested. Elizabeth’s test also yielded a positive result as well. She likely passed the virus to her daughter and their 1 �-year-old son, Jake, through breastfeeding.
Three years later in 1988, Ariel, passed away from the disease just a couple of days after her seventh birthday.
Shortly after that, Elizabeth and her friends Susan DeLaurentis and Susan Zeegen founded the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Elizabeth unfortunately never got a chance to see just how much of an impact her foundation would have on the world. She too lost her battle to AIDS in 1994. After her passing, the organization was renamed The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation in her memory.
Paul Michael Glaser Was Left With Guilt And Anger
The Starsky star never contracted the virus thanks to a very rare gene mutation that makes him less susceptible to the virus, but after the passing of this wife and daughter, he was left with far more than a broken heart and a head full of questions.
He was full of anger, rage, and guilt. He didn’t know why he was spared while the ones he loved the most suffered and died. He couldn’t stop thinking that he could have done something to prevent all of this pain and suffering from happening.
While he may have initially been fixated on the ‘why me?’ question, those thoughts eventually turned much darker. Glaser admits that at the time, he started to consider the possibility of committing suicide. Fortunately, he knew that his wife and daughter would have wanted him to find peace.
To help cope with the immense grief and anguish that he was experiencing, Glaser did his best to keep himself busy. He remained very active in the entertainment industry and used his positioning as a renowned actor to help draw awareness to the foundation his deceased wife helped start.
Glaser Wrote A Book To Help Others
At some point, Glaser was approached by publishers inquiring whether he wanted to pen an autobiography. He couldn’t bring himself to revisit those painful and nightmarish memories and had to decline but in 2011 he did get around to publishing a novel.
Glaser described Chrystallia and the Source of Light, as a metaphorical autobiography presented as a piece of fantasy fiction.
The plot of the book centers around a teenage girl and her younger brother who embark upon an epic journey in search of the source of light in an underground world where everything and every one is composed of crystals. Their mother is dying and the only way they can think to save her is by finding the light source..
Glaser touched on his inspiration for writing the book by admitting that when he realized that he couldn’t do anything to save the lives of his wife and daughter that he was stricken with great fear. He felt so helpless, but the only way that he could cope with the fear was by learning to be compassionate towards himself. It was his hope that the book would help others to find compassion just as he had.
Continuing The Work Of Elizabeth
Although Paul Michael Glaser still finds himself co-starring in the occasional television series, he has committed a great deal of his time and attention to promoting the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and its goals. He hopes that someday, the scourge of AIDS will no longer reap its devastating toll on society.
Jake Glaser also continues to play an active role in carrying out his mother’s work and legacy despite the fact that he too is living with HIV. Fortunately, medication and therapeutics can greatly extend the lifespan and increase the quality of life for those infected with the virus today.
Jake has served as an international ambassador with the organization traveling across the world to raise awareness and funds for AIDS research. It is his hope that someday a vaccine and ultimately a cure will be discovered so future generations won’t have to endure the suffering that his family has gone through.
The Glaser family went through unfathomable pain. Most people would have been debilitated by going through the loss of their spouse and child but Paul Michael Glaser used that sorrow as a catalyst to muster up the passion to continue his wife’s life-saving activism. Elizabeth and Ariel’s deaths no doubt produced indescribable heartache, but they did not die in vain.
We’d love to you! What causes are you all about? Drop the name of your favorite charitable organizations and foundations in the comments section below.
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