Telly Savalas, a film,stage,and television actor whose career span more than four decades with television guest appearances ranging from "The Twilight Zone",to "The Virginian","Combat!","The Fugitive","Wagon Train",and "Hawaii Five-O" all the way to his Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the 1962 motion picture "Birdman of Alcatraz",to his roles in such movie classics as "The Greatest Story Ever Told",his villain role as Blofeld in the James Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" to box office movie gold with "The Dirty Dozen","Kelly's Heroes","Pretty Maids All In A Row","Battle of the Bulge",and "The Scalphunters",and "Terror Train",to name a few.
In 1973,Telly Savalas premiered in a weekly crime drama series that would change everything on television. On Tuesday October 24,1973,the television series "Kojak" premiered on CBS-TV with Telly Savalas as title character,New York City Police Department Detective Lieutenant Theo Kojak. A total of 118 episodes were produced in color. When it premiered in 1973,the show was on Tuesday nights at 10:00e/9:00c where it took the time slot of "Cannon" which was moved one hour earlier for all of Season 1. From Season 2 onward,CBS moved the series from Tuesday nights to Sunday nights for the remainder of its entire run where it was placed at the 10:00e/9:00c time slot until its cancellation on March 18,1978. Out of the 118 episodes that this series produced,only 35 episodes were produced for Season 1. For Season 2 thru 5,a total of 83 episodes were produced. Filmed entirely on location in New York City and in some segments on the Hollywood backlot of Universal Studios.
The show was created by Abby Mann,who was an Oscar winning film writer for such classics as "Judgment at Nuremberg","A Child Is Waiting",and for "The Detective". Mann was also known for his best known work for such television drama anthologies as "Robert Montgomery Presents",and "Playhouse 90" Creator Abby Mann along with executive producers James Duff McAdams and James Moser set the television series "Kojak" around the daily operations of the New York City Police Department's Eleventh Precinct in Manhattan's South Patrol Borough with Telly Savalas as the tough and incorruptible Lieutenant Theo Kojak who have a knack of solving crimes and murders in his investigation of crimes with a tendency to break the rules to bring the criminals to justice. Theo not only had a sense of solving mysteries but Savalas also did it with a fashion statement with displaying a dark cynical wit to the role. In the early episodes of the series,and this was during its first season,Kojak is seen smoking thin brown More cigarettes. He substituted cigarettes for lollipops as an alternative where the lollipop made its debut in the Season 1 episode "Dark Sunday" that aired on December 12,1973:where Kojak lights a cigarette as he begins questioning a witness,but thinks better of it and sticks a lollipop in his mouth instead to cut his habit of smoking.
His supervisor was Capt. Frank McNeil(Dan Frazer). Later in the series McNeil was promoted to Chief of Detectives in Manhattan where Kojak is the commander of the Manhattan South Precinct's Detective Squad. His squad consists of Detective Bobby Crocker(Kevin Dobson),Detective Stavros(played by Telly Savalas' real-life brother George Savalas),who originally used the name "Demosthenes" in the screen credits. Others were Detective Saperstein(Mark Russell,Season 1),and Detective Rizzo(Vince Conti,Season 1)who all gave Kojak support. Roger Robinson appeared in 12 episodes of Season 1 as Detective Gil Weaver.
Only actors Telly and George Savalas along with Dan Frazer and Kevin Dobson remained throughout the show entire five-year run.
The guest star roster consisted of new talent where future up and coming actors like James Woods, Harvey Keitel,John Ritter,David Proval,to Paul Michael-Glaser,Christopher Walken,Danny Aiello,and Richard Gere,and Kathleen Quinlan where making their marks where as other guest stars ranging from Lynn Redgrave,Forrest Tucker,Ann Jillian, Haywood Nelson, Eli Wallach,Shelley Winters,Ruth Gordon,Jess Walton,Tina Louise,Blair Brown,Paul Benjamin,Robert Hooks, Antonio Fargas, Janet DuBois,Hector Elizondo,Sheree North,along with former Bond girl Maud Adams,Paula Kelly,Isabel Sanford to Marla Gibbs,and Danny Thomas.
The scripts were for this series outstanding,especially in the first three seasons were pinned by Abby Mann,Jack Laird,Robert Foster,and Halston Wells with superb direction from the likes of Jeannot Szwarc, Joel Oilansky,Charles S. Dubin, Leo Penn, Christian Nyby and Russ Mayberry. Even Telly Savalas directed several episodes of this series.
Several episodes from this series as memorable classics from the premiere episode "A Siege of Terror",to "Dead On His Feet","Therapy In Dynamite","Last Rites For A Dead Priest",to "Halls of Terror","Web of Death","Cross Your Heart And Hope To Die","Lady In The Squadron",to the two-part episodes "A Shield of Terror",and "Kojak's Days" to others like "Where Do You Go When You Have Nowhere To Go",to the final episode of the series "In Full Command" as one of the great cop shows to come out of the 1970's. After the success of this series and 11 years after it was canceled by CBS, ABC-TV revised the series with Telly Savalas returning as Theo Kojak for a number of made for television mystery movies that ran from 1989 until 1992.
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