Nicoline Brinkley

Written by Nicoline Brinkley

Modified & Updated: 30 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Telly Savalas was a Hollywood icon, known for his captivating performances and distinct bald head. Most renowned for his role as the tough and gritty detective, Kojak, Savalas had a career that spanned decades and left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. However, there is much more to Telly Savalas than his iconic TV character. In this article, we will delve into the life of this talented actor and uncover 14 surprising facts that you might not know about him. From his early beginnings to his unexpected talents, prepare to be amazed as we unravel the mystery of Telly Savalas.

Key Takeaways:

  • Telly Savalas, the iconic actor known for his role as Kojak, had a fascinating life that included serving in World War II, a successful singing career, and a trademark bald head and lollipop.
  • Telly Savalas was not only a talented actor but also a dedicated family man and philanthropist, leaving behind a legacy of versatility, catchphrases, and charitable contributions.
Table of Contents

Telly Savalas was born in Garden City, New York.

Did you know that Telly Savalas, the famous actor known for his role as Kojak, was born in the town of Garden City, New York?

Kojak was not originally written for Telly Savalas.

Although Telly Savalas became synonymous with the character of Kojak, the role was originally written with someone else in mind. However, Savalas’s portrayal was so iconic that it is now impossible to imagine anyone else playing the role.

Telly Savalas served in World War II.

Before he became an actor, Telly Savalas served as a soldier in World War II. His military experience shaped his life and had a profound impact on his acting career.

He was also an accomplished singer.

In addition to his acting career, Telly Savalas was a talented singer and released several successful music albums. His deep, distinctive voice added to his charm and made him a versatile performer.

He turned down a role in “The Godfather.”

Believe it or not, Telly Savalas turned down the opportunity to play the iconic role of Michael Corleone in the film “The Godfather.” The role ultimately went to Al Pacino and became one of his most memorable performances.

Telly Savalas had a trademark look with his bald head and lollipop.

When you think of Telly Savalas, one of the first things that comes to mind is his signature bald head and lollipop. This unique look became synonymous with his character Kojak and added to his on-screen persona.

He had a successful career as a TV detective.

Telly Savalas gained widespread fame for his portrayal of the tough and street-smart detective Kojak. The TV series was a huge success and made Savalas a household name.

He played diverse roles throughout his career.

Although Telly Savalas is best known for his role as Kojak, he showcased his versatility by taking on a wide range of characters in movies and TV shows throughout his career. From tough guys to comedic roles, Savalas proved his talent as a versatile actor.

Telly Savalas was known for his catchphrase, “Who loves ya, baby?”

One of the most memorable aspects of Telly Savalas’s character Kojak was his catchphrase, “Who loves ya, baby?” This phrase became iconic and is still associated with Savalas today.

He had a successful career in Europe.

While Telly Savalas achieved fame in the United States, he also had a thriving career in Europe. He appeared in several European films and TV shows, gaining a dedicated fan base overseas.

Telly Savalas was a dedicated family man.

Behind the persona of the tough detective, Telly Savalas was a loving family man. He had six children and was known to prioritize his family above all else.

He was a philanthropist.

Telly Savalas was involved in various philanthropic endeavors throughout his life. He supported numerous charitable causes and worked to make a positive impact on the world around him.

Telly Savalas received numerous awards for his performances.

Throughout his career, Telly Savalas received recognition for his exceptional acting talents. He won several awards, including an Emmy for his role as Kojak.

He passed away in 1994.

Sadly, Telly Savalas passed away in January 1994 at the age of His legacy as an actor and entertainer continues to live on.

These 14 surprising facts about Telly Savalas give us a glimpse into the fascinating life and career of this iconic actor. From his humble beginnings in New York to his unforgettable performances on screen, Savalas left a lasting impact on the entertainment industry.

Whether it was his role as Kojak, his singing career, or his philanthropic efforts, Telly Savalas will always be remembered as a multi-talented individual who captivated audiences around the world.


In conclusion, Telly Savalas was truly a remarkable individual with a career that spanned across different mediums and genres. From his breakout role as Kojak to his unique personal style, he captivated audiences with his charisma and talent. Throughout his life, Telly Savalas left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry, and his legacy continues to live on.With his iconic bald head, trademark lollipop, and gravelly voice, Telly Savalas became a pop culture icon and a beloved figure. Behind the scenes, he was known for his philanthropy and dedication to his craft. His versatility as an actor allowed him to seamlessly transition from serious roles to comedic ones, proving his incredible range.Undoubtedly, Telly Savalas will always be remembered as a Hollywood legend. His impact on the industry and the hearts of his fans will continue to be felt for generations to come. Telly Savalas’ magnetic presence and unforgettable performances have secured his place as one of the most revered actors in history.


1. When was Telly Savalas born?

Telly Savalas was born on January 21, 1922.

2. What was Telly Savalas’ most famous role?

Telly Savalas is best known for his portrayal of detective Theo Kojak in the TV series “Kojak.

3. Was Telly Savalas married?

Yes, Telly Savalas was married three times. He had four children.

4. Did Telly Savalas have any other talents besides acting?

Yes, Telly Savalas was also a talented singer and released several albums during his career.

5. What awards did Telly Savalas win?

Telly Savalas won both a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award for his role in “Kojak.”

6. Did Telly Savalas serve in the military?

Yes, Telly Savalas served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

7. How did Telly Savalas pass away?

Telly Savalas passed away on January 22, 1994, due to complications from prostate cancer.

8. Did Telly Savalas have any philanthropic endeavors?

Yes, Telly Savalas was actively involved in various charity organizations, including the American Cancer Society.

Telly Savalas led a remarkable life, captivating audiences with his iconic roles and distinctive style. His journey from World War II veteran to Hollywood star is filled with surprising twists and turns. If you enjoyed learning about Savalas, why not explore more fascinating stories from the silver screen? Dive into the thrilling world of "Kelly's Heroes," where a group of U.S. soldiers hatches a daring plan to steal Nazi gold. Or, uncover the gripping tale of the "Battle of the Bulge," one of World War II's most pivotal conflicts. Both films offer a wealth of intriguing facts and behind-the-scenes secrets waiting to be discovered.

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