Remembering the life of Greek American Actor, Telly Savalas


Aristotelis “Telly” Savalas was an American actor that is best remembered for his role as a New York City detective in the 1970’s TV series, Kojak, and James Bond archvillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

We are taking a look at his life and all his achievements.

Early Life:

Savalas was born on January 21, 1922, in Garden City, New York, the second of five children born to Greek parents Christina, an artist who was a native of Sparta, and Nick Savalas, a restaurant owner. His paternal grandparents came from the Greek village of Ierakas.

With his brother, Gus, sold newspapers and shined shoes to help support the family.

Military service:

In 1941, Savalas was drafted into the United States Army and served from 1941 to 1943 at Camp Pickett, Virginia.

In 1943, he was discharged from the Army with the rank of corporal after being severely injured in a car accident.


In 1959, Savalas attended an audition for the CBS anthology series Armstrong Circle Theatre, intending to prompt an actor friend who was up for a role.

Instead, the casting director took Savalas’ sinister demeanor into account and cast him in a character part, which led to other TV assignments and movie roles.

In 1973, he landed the part of tough-talking New York City detective Theo Kojak in the TV movie The Marcus-Nelson Murders.

The show catapulted Savalas into icon status as the very image of the hedonistic ’70s. This clout allowed him to hire brother George in the role of Detective Stavros.

To this day, Kojak’s catchphrase, “Who loves ya, baby?” can be heard around the globe. Savalas won an Emmy and two Golden Globes for his role on the series.


Savalas died on January 22, 1994, the day after his 72nd birthday, of complications of prostate and bladder cancer at the Sheraton-Universal Hotel in Universal City, California.




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