Aristotelis "Telly" Savalas (January 21, 1922 – January 22, 1994) was an American film and television actor and singer, whose career spanned four decades. Perhaps best known for playing the title role in the 1970s crime drama Kojak, Savalas was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Birdman of Alcatraz (1962).
BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ
His other movie credits include The Young Savages (1961), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Battle of the Bulge (1965), The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Scalphunters (1968), supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Kelly's Heroes (1970), Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971), Inside Out (1975), and Escape to Athena (1979).
After Savalas came back to reprise his role on Kojak in the 1980s, he began to lose close relatives. George Savalas, his brother who played Detective Stavros on the original Kojak series, died in 1985 of leukemia at age 60. George Savalas recorded a series of Greek folk songs. His mother Christina, who had always been his best friend, supporter, and devoted parent, died in 1989. Later that year, Savalas was diagnosed with transitional cell cancer of the bladder. While fighting for his life, he continued to star in many roles, including a recurring role on The Commish.
Telly Savalas died on January 22, 1994, at the age of 72, just one day after his birthday, of complications of cancer of the bladder and prostate at the Sheraton-Universal Hotel in Universal City, California. He had lived at the Sheraton in Universal City for 20 years, becoming such a fixture at the hotel bar that it was renamed Telly's. Savalas was interred at the George Washington section of Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. The funeral, held in the Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church, was attended by his third wife, Julie, and his brother Gus. His first two wives, Katherine and Marilyn, also attended with their own children. The mourners included Angie Dickinson, Nicollette Sheridan, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Sorbo, Sally Adams, Frank Sinatra, Don Rickles, and several of Telly's Kojak co-stars – Kevin Dobson, Dan Frazer, and Vince Conti.