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Telly Savalas: From VOA to Hollywood - 2002-04-17

A VOA Snapshot - Part of VOA's 60th Anniversary Year Coverage

Over the years, VOA has followed the lives of many famous movie stars. But did you know that a few of our colleagues actually became famous movie stars?

It can be as simple as that. A phone call. One day in the early 1950s a Hollywood agent was looking for an actor with a French accent for a part in a movie. A VOA Greek language broadcaster answered the phone, and faked the French accent. He got the job. Just like that, the VOA broadcaster was off the radio and onto the silver screen. He had a long, successful acting career, including an internationally acclaimed television series.

The show was Kojak, the bald, cynical, smart New York City police detective who solved crimes with a lollipop in his mouth. The star, and former VOA Greek broadcaster, was Telly Savalas.

"Kojak? Well how to describe him? A little boy from New York and that's what I was and after reluctantly going into television I realized it was the five years of the greatest period in the world," said Mr. Savalas.

Telly Savalas won two Emmy awards for his role in Kojak and he became famous around the world.

At VOA, Telly Savalas had hosted a program called Telly's Coffee Shop, where he interviewed movie celebrities like Eroll Flynn, Ava Gardner, and Frank Sinatra. A phone call and a fake accent later, he was one of them.