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National Hellenic Museum Virtual Exhibitions

Telly Savalas

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Aristotelis “Telly” Savalas was born on January 21, 1922, in Garden City, New York, the second child of Nick Savalas and Christina Kapsalis. Mr. Savalas was drafted into the US Army in 1941 and served in World War II. He attended Columbia’s School of General Studies and earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 1946. While preparing for medical school, he decided to pursue a career in entertainment instead. Successful as both a singer and an actor, Mr. Savalas had roles in numerous films, and was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his work in the 1962 movie The Birdman of Alcatraz. In 1973, Mr. Savalas began the role for which he would be most well-known: Lt. Theodopolus "Theo" Kojak, a bald, lollipop loving New York City police detective fond of saying, "Everybody should have a little Greek in them." In 1999, TV Guide ranked him number 18 on its 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time list. Mr. Savalas passed away on January 22, 1994.

Telly Savalas is the 2015 National Hellenic Society Excellence Award winner.