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Telly Savalas
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Telly Savalas

Telly Savalas (born Aristotle Savalas) (January 21, 1924 - January 22, 1994) was a Greek-American actor. Savalas was born in Garden City, New York to Greek parents, Nicholas and Christina Savalas. He served in World War II after he dropped out of Columbia University, where he was studying psychology. He was honourably discharged with a Purple Heart disability. During the early 1950s, Savalas worked for ABC radio and eventually became the executive producer of his own popular talk show, Telly's Coffee House. It was not until he was in his thirties that he decided to turn to acting.

Telly was well known for being totally bald. Up until the mid-1960s, he had what his family termed a halo - a ring of hair along the back and sides of his head. He eventually decided to shave off the remaining hair when he began playing in movies. Telly maintained that style for the rest of his life.

In the early 1990s, Savalas contracted bladder cancer, ultimately succumbing to the disease in 1994.

He was also the godfather of Friends star Jennifer Aniston, with whom he shared Greek roots.

Undoubtably Savalas most famous role was that of the tough detective Kojak on television. Lt. Theo Kojak was a bald New York detective who had a fondness for lollipops and whose trademark line was, Who loves ya, baby. Telly portrayed Kojak in the following shows;

  • The Marcus-Nelson Murders (1973) (TV) The Pilot for the Kojak TV series.
  • Kojak (1973-78) TV Series
  • Kojak: The Belarus File (1985) (TV)
  • Kojak: The Price of Justice (1987) (TV)
  • Kojak: Ariana (1989) (TV)
  • Kojak: Fatal Flaw (1989) (TV)
  • Kojak: None So Blind (1990) (TV)
  • Kojak: It's Always Something (1990) (TV)
  • Kojak: Flowers for Matty (1990) (TV)
Telly's brother George played the recurring role of Detective Stavros.

His silver screen career usually involved him being cast as the quintessential villain in such films as: Mad Dog Coll (1961), Cape Fear (1962), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Battle of the Bulge (1965), Genghis Khan (1965), Beau Geste (1966), Dirty Dozen, The (1967), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Kelly's Heroes (1970), Escape to Athena (1979), and Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979).

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Telly Savalas Facts

Birth NameAristotle Savalas
BirthdayJanuary 21, 1924
BirthplaceGarden City, Long Island, New York, USA
Date of deathJanuary 22, 1994 (age 70)
Height5' 10" (1m78)  How tall is Telly Savalas compared to you?
Awards1976 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Television Series - Drama (for Kojak)
1975 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Television Series - Drama (for Kojak)

Selected Filmography

Not available.