Actor. He was born Terry Aristotle Savalas in Garden City, New York, to Greek immigrant parents. Telly Savalas dropped out of Columbia University, where he was studying psychology, and enlisted in the army during World War II receiving a purple Heart during his service. During the early 1950's he worked for ABC radio and became an executive producer of his own popular talk show, "Telly's Coffee House". He was well into his thirties when he decided to give Hollywood a try becoming a familiar easy to recognize figure with his shaven bald head. Undoubtedly, his most famous role was that of the tough detective on the TV series "Kojak", which was a number one show between 1973-1979. It was further made into a number of made for TV movies. His movie roles found him being cast as a villain: "Birdman of Alcatraz", "The Greatest Story Ever Told", "Battle of the Bulge" and "Dirty Dozen" are but a few. Telly Savalas contracted bladder cancer early in the 1990's and ultimately succumbed to the disease. He was proud of his heritage. His Greek roots were displayed by his funeral service which was held at St Sophia's Creek Cathedral in Los Angeles. This is the facility personally constructed by Charles Skouras, one of three famous Shouras brothers, who once dominated the Hollywood scene and with whom Telly Savalas shared Greek roots. He was the brother of actor George Savalas.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield
The hour of departure has arrived,
and we go our ways -
I to die and you to live.
Which is better God only knows.
Katherine Nicolaides Savalas
1924–2006 (m. 1948)