Christina Hovland Biography & Facts
Aristotelis Savalas (Greek: Αριστοτέλης Σαβάλας; January 21, 1922 – January 22, 1994), known professionally as Telly Savalas, was an American actor and singer whose career spanned four decades. Noted for his bald head and deep, resonant voice, he is perhaps best known for portraying Lt. Theo Kojak on the crime drama series Kojak (1973–1978) and James Bond archvillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the film On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).
Savalas' other roles include Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Battle of the Bulge (1965), The Dirty Dozen (1967), Kelly's Heroes (1970), Horror Express (1972), Lisa and the Devil (1974) and Escape to Athena (1979). For Birdman of Alcatraz, he was nominated for the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.
As a singer, Savalas released a cover of the Bread song "If", which became a UK No. 1 single in 1975. The song also peaked at number 12 in Australia.
Aristotelis Savalas was born in Garden City, New York, on January 21, 1922, the second of five children born to ethnic Greek parents Christina (née Kapsalis; 1904–1988), an artist who was a native of Sparta, and Nick Savalas (c. 1883–1948), a restaurant owner. His paternal grandparents came from the Greek village of Ierakas. Savalas and his brother, Gus, sold newspapers and polished shoes to help support the family. Savalas initially spoke only Greek when he entered grade school, but later learned English. He attended Cobbett Junior High School in Lynn, Massachusetts. He won a spelling bee there in 1934; due to an oversight, he did not receive his prize until 1991, when the school principal and Boston Herald awarded it to him.Savalas graduated from Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park, New York in 1940. A renowned swimmer, he worked as a beach lifeguard after graduation from high school. However, on one occasion, he was unsuccessful in saving a father from drowning; as he attempted resuscitation, the man's two children stood nearby crying for their father to wake up. This affected Savalas so much that he spent the rest of his life constantly promoting water safety, and later made all six of his children take swimming lessons.
In 1941, Savalas was drafted into the United States Army. From 1941 to 1943, Savalas served in Company C, 12th Medical Training Battalion, 4th Medical Training Regiment at Camp Pickett, Virginia. In 1943, he was discharged from the Army with the rank of corporal after being severely injured in a car accident. Savalas spent more than a year recuperating in hospital with a broken pelvis, sprained ankle and concussion. He then attended the Armed Forces Institute where he studied radio and television production.He received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Columbia's School of General Studies in 1946 and started working on a master's degree while preparing for medical school.
After the war, he worked for the U.S. State Department as host of the Your Voice of America series, then at ABC News.
In 1950, Savalas hosted a radio show called "The Coffeehouse in New York City".Savalas began as an executive director and then as senior director of the news special events at ABC. He then became an executive producer for the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports, where he gave Howard Cosell his first job in television. Before his acting career took off, Savalas directed Scott Vincent and Howard Cosell in Report to New York, WABC-TV's first regularly-scheduled news program in fall 1959.Savalas did not consider acting as a career until asked if he could recommend an actor who could do a European accent. He did but as the friend in question could not go, Savalas himself went to cover for his friend and ended up being cast on "And Bring Home a Baby", an episode of Armstrong Circle Theatre in January 1958. He appeared on two more episodes of the series in 1959 and 1960, one, acting alongside a young Sydney Pollack. He was also in a version of The Iceman Cometh.Savalas quickly became in much demand as a guest star on TV shows, appearing in Sunday Showcase, Diagnosis: Unknown, Dow Hour of Great Mysteries (an adaptation of The Cat and the Canary), Naked City (alongside Claude Rains), The Witness (playing Lucky Luciano in one episode and Al Capone in another), The United States Steel Hour, and The Aquanauts. He was a regular on the short-lived NBC series Acapulco (1961) with Ralph Taeger and James Coburn.
Savalas made his film debut in Mad Dog Coll (1961), playing a cop. His work had impressed fellow actor Burt Lancaster, who arranged for Savalas to be cast in the John Frankenheimer directed The Young Savages (also 1961 and again playing a cop). Pollack worked on the film as an acting coach.In one of his most acclaimed performances, Savalas reunited with Lancaster and Frankenheimer for Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), where he was nominated for the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. The same year, he appeared as a private detective in Cape Fear (directed by J. Lee Thompson whom Savalas would work with in future films), and The Interns, reprising his role from the latter film in The New Interns (1964).Savalas also guest starred in a number of TV series during the decade including The New Breed, The Detectives, Ben Casey, The Twilight Zone (the episode "Living Doll"), The Fugitive (1963 TV series) and Arrest and Trial among others.
Baldness and stardom
He continued supporting roles in films such as The Man from the Diners' Club, Love Is a Ball and Johnny Cool (all 1963),Savalas, already at a late stage of male-pattern baldness, shaved his head to play Pontius Pilate in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) and kept his head shaven for the rest of his life. He reunited with J. Lee Thompson in John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! (1965), and was one of many names in Genghis Khan (also 1965).He was part of an all-star cast in The Dirty Dozen (1967), playing Archer Maggott (the worst of the dozen), in a role Jack Palance turned down. He reunited with Burt Lancaster and Sydney Pollack in the Western The Scalphunters (1968), and also featured in the comedy Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (also 1968) — noted as one of his favorite roles — and the all-star action movie Mackenna's Gold (1969), his third film for J. Lee Thompson. Savalas attributed his success to "his complete ability to be himself."Savalas' first leading role in film was in the British crime comedy Crooks and Coronets (1969). The same year he appeared in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service, playing Ernst Stavro Blofeld. He continued to appear in films during the 1970s including Kelly's Heroes (1970) (with Clint Eastwood), Clay Pigeon (1971), and several European features such as Violent City (1970) (with Charles Bronson), A Town Called Bastard (1971), Horror Express (with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee), A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die, the title role in Pancho Villa (all 1972), and Re.... Discover the Christina Hovland popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Christina Hovland books.