Telly Savalas

Telly Savalas Biography

Tele Savalas as Blofeld

Aristotelis “Telly” Savalas, born January 21, 1922 in Garden City, New York, was a versatile talent in the entertainment industry with a career spanning four decades. Best known for his iconic bald head and distinctive voice, Savalas gained recognition as Lt. Theo Kojak in the crime drama series Kojak (1973-1978) and Ernst Stavro Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969).

Savalas’ other notable film credits include The Dirty Dozen, Escape to Athena and Birdman of Alcatraz, which he received an Academy Award and Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Telly Savalas was also a successful singer, and his 1975 cover of Bread’s “If” hit No. 1 in the UK and reached the top 12 in Australia.


Aside from his acting and singing career, Telly Savalas was a man of many interests. He held a degree in psychology and was a skilled poker player, finishing 21st in the 1992 World Series of Poker. He also enjoyed motorcycle racing, lifeguarding, golfing, reading, traveling, collecting luxury cars, and gambling. He was a horse racing enthusiast and owned a successful racehorse named “Telly’s Pop” with film director Howard W. Koch.

Telly Savalas passed away on January 22, 1994, a day after his 72nd birthday, due to complications from prostate and bladder cancer. He had lived at the Sheraton-Universal Hotel in Universal City, California for 20 years and was a fixture at the hotel bar, which was renamed “Telly’s” in his honour.