Paul Soles, whose death at age 90 was announced, was one of those recognizable faces in what might be called the golden age of Canadian television. In the age before satellite transmission, millions of Canadians lived too far from the US border to benefit from cable television and for them, TV consisted of two channels—CBC and CTV. Paul Soles became a household name as the original host and later co-host with Adrienne Clarkson of the daytime TV talk show, “Take 30” which ran on CBC for 16 years. The show was a departure from typical daytime fare of the era as it tackled serious social issues along with lighter fare.
Of interest in Hamilton was another Soles show-This is the Law that ran in the 1970’s. In a film clip, Soles would play a hapless citizen who inadvertently breaks some obscure Canadian law, and then a studio panel would try to figure out which law was violated. One of the panelists in that series was Hamilton lawyer, the late Bill Charlton.
Paul Soles got his start in London, where he studied fine arts at the University of Western Ontario– at radio, and later TV station CFPL before joining the CBC in Toronto. Over a lengthy career worked on stage, including Broadway and off-Broadway plays. On stage he starred in the Young People’s Theatre production of The Diary of Anne Frank with Eli Wallach and Kate REID in 1977. In 1986, he was in a touring production of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, and in 1987 he appeared at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in I’m Not Rappaport. In 1988, he appeared on Broadway in Macbeth with Christopher Plummer and Glenda Jackson, and was part of the original cast of the musical Ragtime when it played Toronto prior to its short Broadway engagement in 1998. In 2001, he was Shylock in The Merchant of Venice at Stratford, replacing Al Waxman in the role when Waxman passed away earlier that year.
In film, he appeared in Ticket to Heaven (1981), Doug Henning’s The Magic Show (1983), The Last Straw (1987), Falling over Backwards (1990, earning a GENIE Award nomination for best supporting actor), the Oscar-nominated documentary Colours of My Father: A Portrait of Sam Borenstein (voice, 1992), The Lotus Eaters (1993), The Five Senses (1999), Marlon Brando’s last film The Score (2001) and Siblings (2004).
He voiced one of his most enduring projects, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” an animated stop-motion holiday special made in 1964 (his is the voice of Hermey, a misfit elf who wants to be a dentist), which was shot in Toronto and is still aired at Christmastime. Soles’ cousin, producer Bernard “Bunny” Cowan, put together a small stock company of Canadian actors to voice American animated series on the cheap. These included “The Hulk” (1966) with Soles as the voice of the Hulk’s alter-ego Bruce Banner, and “Spider-Man” (1967-70). Soles was the voice of Peter Parker, his alter-ego Spider-Man and several villains. Despite its low-budget and crude animation, the “Spider-Man” series attracted a cult following and was re-released on DVD when the second Spider-Man movie starring Toby Maguire was released theatrically in 2004. Paul soles was an active actor well into his 80’s
His obituary says Paul Soles loved music, sports cars and flying; adding, “he will be remembered as a charming, magnanimous, principled man , a creative and versatile performer and a proud Canadian