Telly Savalas

The Early Life and Career of Telly Savalas

Telly Savalas was born in Garden City, New York, in 1922. His parents were Greek immigrants, and Savalas was the second of five children. He attended Columbia University but left before graduating to serve in World War II. After the war, he worked as a radio and television host before landing his first acting role in the 1950s. Savalas gained recognition for his role in the film “Birdman of Alcatraz” in 1962, which earned him an Academy Award nomination.

Savalas continued to act in movies throughout the 1960s and 1970s, including “The Dirty Dozen” and “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” He also starred in the popular television series “Kojak” in the 1970s, which earned him an Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series. Savalas was known for his iconic bald look, which he adopted in the 1960s and became his signature style.

The Personal Life of Telly Savalas

Telly Savalas

Telly Savalas was married three times and had six children. His first marriage was to Katherine Nicolaides, with whom he had two children. His second marriage was to Marilyn Gardner, with whom he had three children. His third marriage was to Julie Hovland, and they had one child together. Savalas was also known for his close relationship with his brothers, George and Gus, who both had successful careers in the entertainment industry.

Savalas was a smoker for many years and was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 1993. He underwent treatment and appeared to be in remission, but the cancer returned and spread to his liver and lungs. Savalas passed away on January 22, 1994, at the age of 72.

Telly Savalas’ Legacy in Movies

Telly Savalas appeared in over 70 movies throughout his career. Some of his most notable roles include Pontius Pilate in “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” Archer Maggot in “The Dirty Dozen,” and Ernst Stavro Blofeld in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” Savalas was known for his commanding presence on screen and his ability to portray complex characters with depth and nuance.

Despite his success in movies, Savalas is perhaps best known for his role as Lieutenant Theo Kojak in the television series “Kojak.” The show ran from 1973 to 1978 and was a critical and commercial success. Savalas’ portrayal of Kojak, a tough but compassionate detective, earned him a legion of fans and cemented his place in television history.

The Enduring Popularity of Telly Savalas

Although Telly Savalas passed away over 25 years ago, his legacy continues to resonate with audiences today. His iconic bald look and distinctive voice have become part of popular culture, and his work in movies and television continues to be celebrated by fans and critics alike. Savalas’ enduring popularity is a testament to his talent as an actor and his ability to connect with audiences on a deep and personal level.


Telly Savalas was a talented actor, a devoted family man, and a beloved icon of popular culture. His life and legacy continue to inspire and entertain audiences around the world, and his contributions to movies and television will be remembered for generations to come.

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