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By Jeff Shannon

On the timeline of successful TV cop dramas, Kojak offered bold authenticity and paved the way for NYPD Blue. As immortalized by Telly Savalas, veteran detective Theo Kojak was introduced in the 1973 TV movie The Marcus-Nelson Murders (not included in this 3-disc set), a ratings hit that encouraged CBS and writer-producer Abby Mann to create a trend-setting series (based on a book by Selwyn Raab) that premiered on October 24 of that year.

The Greek, bald-headed, snappily attired Kojak brought no-nonsense bravado to homicide cases in South Manhattan--a setting that lent a gritty, urban edge to intelligent plots that won the respect of real cops with an emphasis on diligent police work instead of overblown action and phony glamour. While working cases with his captain Frank McNeil (Dan Frazer) and closest colleagues Crocker (Kevin Dobson) and Stavros (played by Savalas's brother George, credited as "Demosthenes" for the first two seasons), Kojak had a knack for bending the rules (but never breaking them) if he knew it would solve a crime. Kojak came at a perfect time for Savalas and cop dramas in general.

The actor's career was slumping in the early Super70s (he'd just appeared in the Italian horror film Lisa and the Devil), and he quickly put his personal stamp on the role with street-wise sarcasm and trademark lollipops (a perfect prop that Savalas adopted to quit smoking). Consistently well-written, the series was realistically rooted in a broad spectrum of New York City crime. These qualities attracted plenty of fresh and established talent, and these 22 well-preserved episodes include guest appearances by Harvey Keitel, James Woods, Richard Jordan, Hector Elizondo, John Ritter (in one of his first TV roles), Paul Michael Glaser, Dabney Coleman, Tina Louise, and a host of familiar TV veterans.

For this debut season, Savalas won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, and Kojak ran for five well-rated seasons, followed by several TV-movie revivals in 1985, 1989, and 1990. The enduring popularity of Kojak was further proven when the show was revived yet again in March of 2005, with Ving Rhames in the title role.

Kojak Trivia

• Kojak's trademark lollypop was introduced as a cigarette substitute after Telly Savalas gave up smoking.
• The series was translated to Hungarian in the 1970s. The Actor, who gave his voice to Kojak, László Inke resembled Telly Savalas so much that a Hungarian movie was shot in which he actually played Kojak (the title is: Kojak Budapesten, and it was shot in 1980). While the original series is colored, the Hungarian film is black and white. Also, according to the plot of Kojak Budapesten, Kojak was born in Hungary, and had been a very clumsy cop before emigrating.
• All Kojak episodes except for a few were entirely filmed (except for a few exterior shots) in Studio City, CA at Universal Studios set on Stage 34.
• Telly Savalas was Jennifer Aniston's godfather.

Kojak on DVD!
Kojak is now available on DVD! Get it at!
Season One


Share Your Memories In Our Forums!

Check out our Kojak forum! Do you have a favorite episode of the show? What do you remember about the series? Do you have any questions about it or its stars? Now you can post comments and questions directly to our TV forums! Click here to see what other Kojak viewers have said or to post your own comments about the show!

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Originating with an excellent movie, "The Marcus-Nelson Murders", Kojak starred Telly Savalas as an eccentric but effective Police Lieutenant solving crimes on the mean streets of New York City. (Kojak was surely the snappiest dresser of any cop-hero of the day. ) Certainly one of the best 'cop-drama' shows, with a fine supporting cast (Crocker, Stavros, Rizzo and Saperstein, and of course his long-suffering Captain -- Stavros played by Telly's brother George) and consistently good writing -- often not happy stories, but good ones. Kojak's trademark line of "who loves ya, baby" showed up everywhere for years after (not the least in Savalas' own post-Kojak commercials. )

My personal favorite episode was one called "Seige"; a relatively simple story of hostages and bad-guys inside and cops outside, but very, very, very well told. Kojak's trademark lollipop was actually a substitute for the cigarrettes the character smoked early on (Savalas quit smoking. )

Although there were a passle of follow-on made-for-TV movies, the best was the first -- "The Belarus File" (a mystery of Nazis, government malfeasance, and revenge. )


Note: This is just a random sample of the Kojak messages in our TV forums! Click here to see what others have said or to post your own comments!



Aired: October 24, 1973 - April 14, 1978

Cast: Telly Savalas, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, Vince Conti, George Savalas, Mark Russell

Network: CBS

Genre: Police Drama

Theme song

Image courtesy of CBS

Kojak memorabilia!
Kojak Videos and DVDs!
Telly Savalas memorabilia!
Telly Savalas Videos and DVDs!
Dan Frazer memorabilia!
Dan Frazer Videos and DVDs!

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