1 9 7 3 – 1 9 7 8 (USA)
125 x 60 minute episodes
The favourite detective show of police around the US, Kojak made the streets of New York safe, baldness sexy and Chuppa Chups (Tootsie Pops) an acceptable vice.
Developed from a character in the 1973 made-for-television movie The Marcus-Nelson Murders, the show centred around the incorruptible Lieutenant Theo Kojak.
Regular cast members included Kevin Dobson (later from Knots Landing) as Detective Bobby Crocker, Dan Frazer as Captain McNeil and Telly’s real-life brother George (billed ridiculously as “Demosthenes” in the credits) as Detective Stavros.
Kojak was an immediate success with more than just the law enforcement crowd and shot into the top ten in its very first season on the air in the US.
When they started out together in the NYPD, Theo Kojak and Frank McNeil had worked together for many years as partners.
Over the years, Frank had worked his way up the chain of command to Chief of Detectives for the 13th Precinct in the Manhattan South district.
Kojak, who had a cynical sense of humour and was determined to do things his way regardless of what his superiors said, was now working for him.
Outspoken and streetwise, Kojak was not above stretching the law if it meant cracking his case.
Starting with the 1976-77 season, location filming was done in New York with Kojak seen all over the city with his trademark lollipops sticking out of his mouth.
In 1989, 65-year-old Telly Savalas reprised his role and once again hit the streets of New York to make some new Kojak films for the ABC Mystery Movie.
Kojak was now an Inspector and his assistant was Winston Blake. Paco was Blake’s partner and Pamela was Kojak’s secretary.
Lollipops and “who loves ya, baby?” were once again present in this new, hipper version of Kojak. In one episode, a character from the old series popped up – Crocker (still played by actor Kevin Dobson), who was now a hotshot assistant D.A. and was out to prosecute Blake for murder.
Telly Savalas lost his battle with prostate cancer in 1993 and died at the age of 69.
There was an attempt to revive the series in 2005 on USA Network, this time with Ving Rhames playing the titular hero as a big, tough, older black guy. This Kojak still sucked on a lollipop, loved jazz and had plenty of attitude. Frank was his no-nonsense boss; Carmen, from the DA’s office, his girlfriend; Henry, a gruff old cop; and Bobby, a younger one. It was a rather dark, humourless revival, and Kojak seemed rather old and tired. the show lasted only a few months.
Lt. Theo Kojak
Lt. Bobby Crocker