Feb 19, 2014

Kojak: Who Loves Ya?

The 1970s was the era of the quirky detectives: cowboys, rabbis, obese gourmands, rumpled nebbishes, nogoodnicks, representatives of various ethnicities.  All they had in common was a big-city beat, a penchant for solving murders, and an easily-riled, by-the-books commanding officer.

They never interested me much, so I never saw a single episode of Kojak (1973-78).  But you could hardly miss the image of Telly Savalas, the bald, hirsute bear, with his trademark Tootsie Roll pop and gravely "Who loves ya, baby?"

He worked out of New York, he was of Greek ancestry, and he had no sidekick, although he sometimes worked with young plainclothes cop Bobby Crocker (Kevin Dobson), or Fatso Stavros (George Savalas).


In 1976, gay activists were riled by an episode in which a foreign diplomat is accused of molesting young boys.  They wanted Kojak -- or someone -- to make it clear that most pedophiles are heterosexual.  The episode aired unchanged.

Who loves ya, Baby?  Not Kojak

Telly Savalas appeared in over 100 movies and tv shows, playing a lot of psycho types and villains, such as Pontius Pilate in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) and Archer Maggott in The Dirty Dozen (1967).  







Not a lot of gay content, but I wonder about Beyond Reason (1977), which he wrote, directed, and stars in.  A psychiatrist (Savalas), distraught over losing a male patient , Howie (Jason Ronard), to suicide, becomes unhinged and starts an affair with a woman.  The photo on the IMBD shows him gently stroking the man's chin.

He was politically conservative and a devout member of the Greek Orthodox Church, so I'm guessing not a gay ally.