Charles Santore, Kojak: Telly Savalas

Oil on canvas
Credit Line
Gift of the Artist, 2018
16 x 19 in

Kojak, a crime drama, revolved around Lieutenant Theofilides “Theo” Kojak of the New York City police department. The character had a dark sense of humor, which the background of this painting seems to underscore. He frequently bent the rules to catch criminals and his approach to interrogating them was quite aggressive.

Actor and singer Aristotelis “Telly” Savalas (1922–1994) was known for his deep, gruff voice. Critics claim that his main appeal as Kojak was how he talked: he could make jargon sound pleasing and his lines sounded dramatic and expressive, like poetry. Savalas won an Emmy Award in 1974 and a Golden Globe in both 1975 and 1976.

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