Aristotelis ‘Telly’ Savalas was born on January 21, 1924 in Garden City, New York. The son of Greek immigrants, Savalas and his brother George ‘Gus’ [1924-1985] who also became an actor, sold newspapers and shined shoes to help support the family. In 1941, he joined the army and served in World War II, from which he was discharged with a Purple Heart disability. After his release, Savalas attended the Armed Forces Institute where he studied radio and television production. He went on to enroll at Columbia University where he continued his studies in psychology. During the early 1950s In the 1950s, Savalas gained production experience on ABC radio’s ‘Voice of America’ and then became the executive producer of his own award-winning talk show, ‘Telly's Coffee House’. Often casted as a villain, in 1962 Savalas earned an Oscar nomination for “Birdman of Alcatraz”. One of his more popular roles was playing a New York City detective in the hit TV series ‘Kojak’ (1973-1978). After Kojak ended, Savalas embarked on a globe-trotting existence involving several forgettable European films and a decadent, self-indulgent lifestyle. Though he periodically revived the character of Kojak in a few 1980s TV movies, his new role as credit card spokesperson likely earned him more air time. Telly appeared in five Euro-westerns from “Land Raiders” (1969) as Vince Carden to “Sonny & Jed” (1972) as Sheriff Franciscus.
He died on January 22, 1994, in Universal City, California where he owned and ran a bar.
Today we remember Telly Savalas on what would have been his 90th birthday.