Telly Savalas was named best dressed in 1977, so he launched a men's fashion collection

"The average man needs the right clothes to help his ego and his image."

What words would you use if someone asked you to describe Telly Savalas? Would it be an international heartthrob, the one and only Kojak or a men's fashion icon?

Savalas is known for playing the iconic role of Lt. Theo Kojak, but he also starred in the fan-favorite Twilight Zone episode "Living Doll." Fashion was always a part of Savalas' identity, especially since he had a charm that made him loved worldwide. In an interview with Philadelphia Daily News in 1977, he talked about being a design director for his then-new men's collection and how important clothes are to a man's image.

The actor used his smooth, charming voice to set the tone. "I've always taken great pride in dressing," he said to journalist Eleanor Lambert. "When I started Kojak, I decided to make him the most well-dressed cop who ever lived - and on a police lieutenant's pay. Things like wearing a suit with a vest and being careful about a hatband don't make the clothes cost any more, but they stand out."

Savalas did just that — he stood out with his fashion, resulting in him appearing on the international best-dressed list. So, he started Telly Savalas Apparel for the Man, a fashion collection and company built around his style. According to the actor, clothing attire is crucial, especially for men.

"[Clothes] tell everything about [a man's] place in life," he added. "His masculinity, his attitude toward his job and the degree of self-understanding he has reached."

He continued sharing his beliefs, saying, "Some people go through life looking like unmade beds and still manage to succeed. The average man needs the right clothes to help his ego and his image."

To be able to help men reach a new level of confidence, Savalas aimed to keep his collection between $85-$150. Pure wool and natural leather were also supposed to give the clothing a custom-tailored feel.

Savalas didn't need to ask for a seat at the fashion table because he brought his own designer chair.

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25 Comments

Avie 2 months ago
In the original 1973 TV movie, "The Marcus-Nelson Murders," that spawned the series, the titles do spell it "Kojack"; in the TV SERIES, itself, for its entire run, as well as the Ving Rhames reboot, it's KOJAK.

As for

"[Savalas] started Telly Savalas Apparell for the Man, a fashion collection and company built around his style."

It's spelled APPAREL. One "l."

Somebody gets PAID to write this stuff!
AgingDisgracefully 2 months ago
I always wondered about the high heels.
Overcompensate much?
Still, always enjoyed The Theo.
Pacificsun 2 months ago
Good Story, and a worthy Show, Fan Favorite too. Telly Savalas might have been the best dressed cop.

But two years before Kojak, Joe Mannix took the award for Best Dressed Private Detective, even if not officially. The Series was novel and interesting and had heart, because the characters did!! Even the Police Brass. Which is why the Series built such a strong relationship between the characters. MeTV did a story on Ward Wood (Art Malcom). But good Fashion was certainly part of the Show's ambience (distinction). Including Gail Fisher's wardrobe. The Police Lieutenants didn't look too badly either, even if appropriately understated, since there was no scene stealing from Mike Connors. Formal or Casual, the clothing was eye-catching and memorable for the era. Fascinating to watch what would never pass today. But how much thought the designers put into color, texture, contrast, fitting and accents that we can now see in digital details. Viewers, note who provided the fashions, listed in the closing credits. And just as prominently as who provided the cars. And yes, they changed through the years. Side note: Bullitt was released in '68, [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullitt ] and Mannix ran '67 to '75 so it's difficult to know which Production company capitalized more from those crazy car chase scenes. Bullitt's claim to fame worked because the driving was done all over San Francisco, while Mannix drove all over L.A. County, mainly in the hills and along coastline for some thrill-seeking curves and flashy cliffside crashes.

Read more about Mannix at this link, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mannix

Better yet, watch it. Except you'll need to take a nap at 2pm to stay awake to see it at 2am. But the first run of the Season's entire cycle (of 8) is well worth it! And stayed contemporary!
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Avie Pacificsun 2 months ago
Joe Mannix was a private investigator, Kojak was a NYPD lieutenant. Different jobs, different incomes. The whole point is that police lieutenants are, sartorially, somewhere in between Kojak and Columbo.
Pacificsun Avie 2 months ago
Dang, you've provided a real challenge here, but fun!

The comment in question was too long to recopy here, with the intention of making the correction (noted by an asterisk) to credit the author of the suggestion made. Namely, a Private Detective and a Private Investigator. But what's really interesting is the dialogue in Mannix, to the point that every time Joe is asked "are you a cop" he replies with only the word "private."

Now that's always fascinated me, and made me research. Is it to imply that he's retired from the Police Force (yet there's nothing in the dialogue about that). Or that he's so in tune with Police practices that he thinks like one, but works for his clients.

Probably, since he works hand-in-hand with all those lieutenants, and some who are friends; well except for Kramer (Larry Linville) who pretty much can't stand him (there's a salute to Frank in MASH).

To clear up the nature (description) of the character of Joe Mannix, is offered in the Mannix (meaning the Show's) own wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mannix

The contributions which build the character's profile have truly expanded the assumed background of the character. Which is usually accomplished by Ultra Fans who pay exceptional attention to the dialogue in each episode. And then are able to build the profile. No worries, those details are what enriches a Series and the depth of the storylines. Admitted, is that I do not know the true Canon of Mannix, which makes the Series what it intended to be, though Fans have taken it much further.

Helping to explain a Private Detective and a Private Investigator is this paper. Credit: https://www.goodwin.edu/enews/investigator-vs-detective/#:~:text=For%20this%20reason%2C%20private%20detectives,be%20handled%20by%20local%20officials.

The HIGHLIGHT taken from all that reading is:

“𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘷𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘨𝘢𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘴, 𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘴 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘴, 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘥𝘰 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘳𝘺 𝘭𝘦𝘨𝘢𝘭 𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘯𝘷𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘨𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘤𝘳𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘴. 𝘗𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘷𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘨𝘢𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘴 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬 𝘢𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘰𝘳 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘮 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘭𝘢𝘸 𝘦𝘯𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘤𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘥𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘴, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬 𝘷𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘭𝘺.”

And finally, I'd never heard the word Sartorially used as it is. So attached is an explanation. No worries, I think the idea is to point out the significant range of taste (or good sense) between Telly Savalas' extraordinary attention to male fashion. And Columbo (do we also blame Peter) for throwing any illusion to fashion sense, completely overboard. And with a wink of course, I point Fans to "Troubled Waters" of course.


Runeshaper 2 months ago
Telly Savalas was a classy guy.
Jeffrey 2 months ago
Hello. First of all, you spelled Kojak wrong, there is no "C" in it. And Apparel is also spelled wrong. Only one "L". NOT 2.
Catman Jeffrey 2 months ago
Good call. There is a different standard -- at least there should be one -- between the informal comments section of an article and the article itself. If someone misspells a word in a comment, or (gasp!) makes a grammatical error, it's best to let it go. The article itself, I think, should be held to a more professional standard. If you're writing a story about a TV show, the writer's credibility is damaged if the show's name is misspelled.
Avie Catman 2 months ago
In the original 1973 TV movie, "The Marcus-Nelson Murders," that spawned the series, the titles do spell it "Kojack"; in the TV SERIES, itself, for its entire run, as well as the Ving Rhames reboot, it's KOJAK.
justjeff 2 months ago
Apparell-ently they misspelled "apparel"...
Jeffrey justjeff 2 months ago
True, justjeff! And Kojak is also spelled wrong.
LoveMETV22 2 months ago
What an enjoyable actor. He obviously had an eye for fashion and firm beliefs as well.
Not only an actor/fashionista, he had many other accomplishments during his career as a singer,
author and probably wore other hats as well.
Jeffrey LoveMETV22 2 months ago
I wonder if his baldness was natural, or did he shave his head?
justjeff Jeffrey 2 months ago
He shaved the "monk's ring" of hair he had for a part - I think it might have been for "The Ten Commandments" and liked it, so he kept the look afterward. You can see him with what hair he did have in the Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Untochables, to offer a few examples...
Moody 2 months ago
Interesting story. I didn't know he had his own clothes line. I really wish you guys would proofread your articles before you post them. You misspelled "Kojak" twice. There's also only one "l" in apparel. 🙄
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Catman justjeff 2 months ago
Well, you probably wear clothes more often than you watch Kojak. Or am I misjudging you?
justjeff Catman 2 months ago
There's too many wisecracks for me to use in one opportunity like this... so make up your own punchline here... LOL!
DiscoDave justjeff 2 months ago
This is the METV staff writing this article, not The Wall Street Journal, but they should know better.
LoveMETV22 justjeff 2 months ago
Nice reply there, no punch lines necessary.
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