”I came from a tough neighborhood, he told People Magazine in a 1981 interview. “I used to be a ‘dirty Greek,’ but my father used to say to me, ‘When you grow up and realize what your heritage means, then they’ll need a permit to speak to you.’ He was right. I’m a proud Greek. I carry my Hellenism like a badge of merit.”
2) Telly the Spartan
Both of Telly’s parents hailed from villages in Lakonia, near Sparta. His mother Christina left the village of Anogia when she was a child and his father, Nicholas left the tiny coastal fishing village of Gerakas and emigrated to America in the early 1900s.
Telly had a great connection to the region of his parents’ birth, arranging and paying to connect the village with the country’s electricity grid in the 1970s.
3) Telly the Godfather
Telly Savalas was the godfather to a baby who would grow up to be another of Hollywood’s famous Greeks— Jennifer Aniston.
Family stories have circulated in the press that as Nono Telly held baby Jennifer in the back seat of his Rolls Royce, Aniston threw up on Savalas’ black velvet dinner jacket. Savalas was a close family friend of Jennifer’s father, John Aniston.
4) Telly the Pop Idol
Savalas wasn’t shy or humble. He loved appearing in magazines and spoke freely and openly about being famous.
In the 1970s he appeared on and in dozens of American and international magazines, including a 1974 edition of People Magazine, on which he appeared shirtless– considered scandalous at the time.
5) Telly Honoring Tradition
Savalas returned to Greece, and specifically to his mother’s village of Anogia in Lakonia, to baptize his son Nicholas. He actually delays the baptism seven years since he had been busy filming, but insisted the baptism take place in the same church where his grandmother was baptized two generations earlier.
Savalas Explains Why he Chose to Go Bald, Next.
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