Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Paul Soles: The voice of Spiderman

Paul Soles in Saving Hope
It was the face that first reminded me, then the voice. Older, a little heavier, guest starring on a re-run of Saving Hope, it was Paul Soles. He played a senior in hospital suffering Alzheimer Disease and posing a danger to himself and his wife. But when I was growing up, every Saturday morning I knew him only as the voice of Spiderman. At the time, I did not know it though. Instead, Paul Soles played a very different role.

The face with no voice: That darn Lawbreaker
If you grew up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Paul Soles was one of those Canadian actors you saw on CBC whether it was "This is the Law" or "Take 30".

I remember him best as the lawbreaker on "This is the Law". It was a panel show hosted by Austin Willis (who I remember best playing CIA agent Felix Leiter in the James Bond movie Goldfinger). The premise was simple if memory serves. There were cases or laws that were acted out, then the panel would have to guess what the law was that was broken. Soles played the man who always broke the law. Interestingly, he never spoke. There was no dialogue during the crime enactments.

The show first aired in the 1970s, but I remember watching reruns of "This is the Law" one summer when I spent a couple weeks visiting my cousins in Brooks. What was really weird was they knew one of the actual cases the show talked about. It came from the town they lived in before they moved to Brooks.

The voice with no face: Spiderman
What is really ironic about Paul Soles never speaking in "This is the Law" is that his voice was his bread and butter. He did tons of voiceover work, but I remember him best as the voice of Spiderman on Saturday morning cartoons, and a bit from Rocket Robin Hood.

Brought to you by your friendly
 neighbourhood Spiderman
Every Saturday I would watch Spiderman. There were so many cool villains: the Vulture, Eletro, the Green Goblin, Dr. Connors, Dr. Noah Body, Parafino, Dr. Octopus, the Rhino. The show changed over time. Episodes became more dark visually as well as in plot. All those great villains were early on. The later episodes were more about other dimensions and a lot more science fictiony.

I never saw them first run, only in repeats. You could tell what season they were from by the opening credits. If the title was set in a big spider web with a light background of the city skyline, it was early in the run.


If the title was on a black background that looked like a dock, it was one of the dark, foreboding episodes.


I never saw a full episode of Take 30, just commercials advertising Soles hosted the show with Adrienne Clarkson. The show was on during the day when I was in school.

The only other vivid memory I have of Paul Soles was when he guest starred in a Wayne and Schuster special. It was a spoof of Murder on the Orient Express and included the panelists from Front Page Challenge as well. Another interesting connection. Paul Kligman was a regular member of the Wayne and Schuster ensemble. He also did the voice of J. Jonah Jameson on Spiderman.

It really is funny how Paul Soles' best known characters only utilize a part of him. He's either all voice, or pantomime. In his case it seems the sum of his parts is greater than the whole.

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