Last updated
Kojak tv 1973.svg
Title logo, 1973–1974
Genre Crime drama
Created by Abby Mann
(suggested by the book Justice in the Back Room, written by Selwyn Raab)
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes118 (list of episodes)
Executive producers Abby Mann
James Duff McAdams
Matthew Rapf
Running time60 minutes
Production company Universal Television
Original network CBS
Picture format4:3
Audio format Mono
Original releaseOctober 24, 1973 (1973-10-24) 
March 18, 1978 (1978-03-18)

Kojak is an American action crime drama television series starring Telly Savalas as the title character, New York City Police Department Detective Lieutenant Theodopolis "Theo" Kojak. Taking the time slot of the popular Cannon series, it aired on CBS from 1973 to 1978.


In 1999, TV Guide ranked Theo Kojak number 18 on its 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time list. [1]

The show currently airs on Sony Pictures' getTV.


The show was created by Abby Mann, an Academy Award winning film writer best known for his work on drama anthologies such as Robert Montgomery Presents and Playhouse 90 . Universal Television approached him to do a story based on the 1963 Wylie-Hoffert murders, the brutal rape and murder of two young professional women in Manhattan.

Owing to poor and corrupt police work and the prevailing casual attitude toward suspects' civil rights, the crimes in the Wylie-Hoffert case were pinned on a young African-American man, George Whitmore Jr., who had been arrested on a separate assault charge. After illegally obtaining a confession, the police had the suspect all but convicted until a second investigation by a different team of detectives exonerated the suspect and identified the real killer, Richard Robles, who was convicted in 1965 and sentenced to life in prison.

Mann developed the project as a gritty police procedural, but with a subtext focusing on institutionalized prejudice and the civil rights of suspects and witnesses. The result was a 1973 made-for-TV movie, The Marcus-Nelson Murders. The opening and closing titles of the film emphasized the point that it was a fictional account of the events that led to the creation of Miranda rights by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966. Selwyn Raab's book Justice in the Back Room provided Mann with some of his inspiration for the story of The Marcus-Nelson Murders, and the series subsequently included a credits reference to having been "suggested by a book by Selwyn Raab". [2]

Savalas starred in The Marcus-Nelson Murders as a police detective whose last name was spelled "Kojack". The film served as a pilot for the Kojak television series. Kojak himself was a composite character, based on a number of detectives, lawyers, and reporters who were involved in the Wylie-Hoffert murder case. [3]



The series is set in the New York City Police Department's Eleventh Precinct (the building shown was actually Ninth Precinct), [4] Manhattan South Patrol Borough. [5] The series was also filmed in New York City.

The show revolved around the efforts of the tough and incorruptible Lieutenant Theodopolus ("Theo") Kojak (Telly Savalas), a bald, dapper, New York City policeman, who was fond of Tootsie Pops and of using the catchphrases, "Who loves ya, baby?" and "Cootchie-coo!" Kojak was stubborn and tenacious in his investigation of crimes—and also displayed a dark, cynical wit, along with a tendency to bend the rules if it brought a criminal to justice.

In the context of the script, Kojak's was seen as typical squad room humor, which was picked up later in the TV drama Hill Street Blues . Savalas described Kojak as a "basically honest character, tough but with feelings—the kind of guy who might kick a hooker in the tail if he had to, but they'd understand each other because maybe they grew up on the same kind of block." [6] Kojak's Greek American heritage, shared by actor Savalas, was featured prominently in the series.

In the early episodes of the series, he is often seen smoking cigarettes. Following the 1964 Surgeon General's Report on smoking, cigarette commercials were banned from American television in 1971, and public awareness of the dangers of cigarette smoking increased dramatically during the 1970s. To cut down on his own deadly habit, Kojak began using lollipops as a substitute. The lollipop made its debut in the Season 1 episode "Dark Sunday", broadcast on December 12, 1973; Kojak lights a cigarette as he begins questioning a witness, but thinks better of it and sticks a lollipop (specifically, a Tootsie Pop) in his mouth instead. Later in the episode, Kevin Dobson's character Crocker asks about the lollipop and Kojak replies, "I'm looking to close the generation gap." Although Kojak continued to smoke, as he was frequently seen lighting a cigarillo, the lollipop eventually became his identifying characteristic; in fact, when the series debuted a new opening montage in season five, Kojak is seen both lighting a cigarillo and popping a lollipop into his mouth.

Telly Savalas as Lt. Theo Kojak with ubiquitous lollipop Kojaktelly.jpg
Telly Savalas as Lt. Theo Kojak with ubiquitous lollipop

His longtime supervisor was Capt. Frank McNeil (Dan Frazer), a man who never seemed to know what was going on. Later in the series, McNeil was promoted to Chief of Detectives in Manhattan. Kojak is the commander of the Manhattan South Precinct's detective squad. His squad includes one of his favorite employees, young plainclothes officer, Det. Bobby Crocker (Kevin Dobson). Detective Stavros, played by Telly's real-life brother George Savalas, used the name "Demosthenes" as his screen credit during the first two seasons. George Savalas, under his real name, also received a Production Associate credit during the first season and a Production Assistant credit for the second season. Detective Saperstein (Mark Russell), and Detective Rizzo (Vince Conti), all gave Kojak support. Roger Robinson appeared in 12 episodes as Detective Gil Weaver.

Although the show primarily focused on Kojak's police work, it occasionally veered into other areas of the character's lives, such as the first-season episode "Knockover" which included a subplot involving Kojak romancing a (much younger) female police officer. In 1976, crime writer Joe Gores received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Episode in a TV Series Teleplay for the third-season episode "No Immunity for Murder" (first aired November 23, 1975).

The show was canceled after five seasons in 1978, due to falling ratings. Reruns of Kojak became successful in syndication and on TV Land.

TV movies

Years after the series ended, Savalas reprised the role in two CBS TV movies, Kojak: The Belarus File (1985) (an adaptation of the John Loftus book The Belarus Secret) and Kojak: The Price of Justice (1987) (based on Dorothy Uhnak's novel The Investigation). Kojak is not a character in either book. Dan Frazer, George Savalas, Mark Russell and Vince Conti made their final appearances in The Belarus File.

In 1989, ABC revived the series again with five additional TV movies. These films saw now-Inspector Kojak lead the NYPD's Major Crimes Squad. Andre Braugher was cast as Winston Blake, a young detective assigned to Kojak's command. Kevin Dobson returned for the fourth film It's Always Something.

Telly Savalas and Dan Frazer are the only cast members to appear in every episode of the original series. Kevin Dobson appeared in all but two episodes, whilst George Savalas appeared in all but three.



Two main title themes were used for the show. The somewhat better-known first Kojak theme, in two distinct arrangements, is the work of Billy Goldenberg, who scored the first two episodes of the series (Goldenberg also scored the series' pilot movie). The first of these two arrangements was used for episodes 1-27. The second of these two arrangements was used for episodes 28–96. Kim Richmond scored the series' third episode. John Cacavas composed the second main title theme used for the show's fifth and final season. In addition, Cacavas composed the music score beginning with the series' fourth episode and continued throughout the remainder of the series.

Goldenberg's first Kojak theme had lyrics, written by Bill Dyer. The song, entitled We'll Make It This Time (Theme From Kojak) was performed by Sammy Davis Jr. on his 1976 album The Song And Dance Man.

Detective Car

In the Kojak television series, the main character would drive an unmarked police car. This sedan model, was a 1973 Buick Century Police detective car [7] with full wheel covers and a 1974 Buick Century 455 badged sedan with small wheel covers. Both cars were in dark brown colors (GM Nutmeg Poly color.) The "1973 grille (section above the bumper) has 3 horizontal bars while the 1974 has 5 horizontal bars." [8] A blue 1974 Century sedan was also driven. "Later in the series, the brown Century was replaced by a 1975 (copper color). " [8] The New York orange with dark blue lettered license plate was "383-JDZ" on the Kojak brown police detective car.


Kojak aired for five seasons on CBS, from 1973 to 1978 for a total of 118 episodes. In the United Kingdom, the series premiered on 24 August 1974 on BBC1. In 1985, seven years after the series ended, Telly Savalas returned to play Kojak in seven TV movies beginning with Kojak: The Belarus File. The first two were aired by CBS and the latter five were aired on ABC as part of their ABC Saturday Mystery Movie theme block. His character was promoted to the rank of captain, and later inspector. Andre Braugher co-starred as Det. Winston Blake, and for one TV movie, Kojak: It's Always Something, Kevin Dobson returned as Bobby Crocker, now an assistant district attorney. Guest stars in these TV movies included Angie Dickinson, Marcia Gay Harden, Max von Sydow, Jerry Orbach and Suzanne Pleshette.

Esquire TV aired the series in multi-hour blocks Wednesdays from September to mid-October 2015. MeTV picked Kojak up for its late night lineup shortly thereafter. Today, Get TV airs Kojak.

Broadcast history and Nielsen ratings

SeasonTime slot (ET)RankRating [9]
1973–74 Wednesday at 10:00 p.m.723.3 (Tied with The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour )
1974–75 Sunday at 8:30 p.m.1423.3
1975–76 Sunday at 9:00 p.m.2021.8
1976–77 Sunday at 9:00 p.m. (1976)
Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. (1977)
63 [10] 17.1 [10]
1977–78 Sunday at 10:00 p.m. (October 2 – December 4, 1977)
Saturday at 10:00 p.m. (December 10, 1977 – March 18, 1978)
87 [11] 14.3 [11]


In March 2005, a new Kojak series debuted on the USA Network cable channel and on ITV4 in the UK. In this re-imagined version, African-American actor Ving Rhames portrays the character. The series only lasted one season.

In other media


There was a series of novelizations written by Victor B. Miller.[ citation needed ]

Several titles were reprinted in the Pocket Books series for the British market by Star Books and one title, Marked for Murder, published in 1976, that was not in the U.S. numbered series. Also, reprints with a different cover for Requiem for a Cop and Girl in the River were published in 1975. [12]

Another book was published by Berkley Medallion Books in 1976. The author was Thom Racina and was titled, Kojak in San Francisco with a tagline,"The story that couldn't be shown on TV."[ citation needed ]

There were three annuals for Kojak published in 1977 (62 pages Stafford Pemberton Publishing), 1978, and 1979. [13]

Audio dramas

Despite the show being ostensibly produced for an adult audience, Peter Pan Records produced an album of audio dramas based upon the series, aimed at children. [14] This 12" album has an audio record and a story book released in 1977.


David and Leslie Newman's original script for Superman: The Movie featured a cameo appearance by Savalas as Kojak, with Superman mistaking him for Lex Luthor and accidentally capturing him. This scene was written out of the film after Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz became involved and shifted the film towards a less campy and more serious tone. [15]

Universal Pictures is planning to make a film version of Kojak, with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade to write the script for the film. Vin Diesel [16] will star as Kojak and produced the film with Samantha Vincent. [17] Philip Gawthorne was hired to construct a new draft for the film. [18]

On June 19, 2015 it was reported in media outlets that playwright Philip Gawthorne is on board for the new Kojak movie being written for Universal. Kojak is being produced by Diesel's Universal-based One Race Films with Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, the writing team behind James Bond films including The World Is Not Enough and Skyfall , joined the project in 2012 to write a previous draft. [19]

Home media

Universal Studios released season 1 of Kojak on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4 in 2005–2006. Due to poor sales, no further seasons were released.

On February 14, 2017, Universal Studios re-released season 1 on DVD in Region 1. [20]

On May 25, 2011, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the Region 1 DVD rights to the series. [21] They have subsequently released the remaining 4 seasons on DVD as well as a complete movie collection. [22]

In Region 2, Mediumrare Entertainment has released the complete series on DVD in the UK.

In Region 4, Shock Entertainment has released seasons 2–5 on DVD in Australia. [23]

ProductEpisodesDVD release dateBlu-ray
release date
United States (R1)United Kingdom (R2)Australia (R4)
Season 122March 22, 200518 July 200513 July 2005
Season 225September 27, 201126 April 2010
Season 324March 20, 201226 April 2010
Season 425May 1, 201229 August 2011
Season 522September 11, 2012 [24] 29 August 2011
The Complete Movie Collection8January 24, 2012
The Complete Series12517 November 2014


Vanity Fair in 1976, produced the Kojak Walkie Talkies designed as battery operated on 4 transistor Solid State transceivers. The 2 piece walkie talkie set meets all FCC standards. The units were able to detach the microphone from the handset and there was a Morse Code key guide on the devices. It had a telescopic antenna and a volume control. These devices were black in color opposed to the blue color toy called Kojak Walkie Talkie.

Introduced in 1977, a bicycle and tricycle battery accessory was produced as a siren. It was made in Hong Kong as model 1300 and a safety 14 inch starter cord. The packaging indicated, "This siren is with or meets the specifications of California vehicle code section 670 and 27002." [25]

In 1978, Universal Security Instruments, Inc. of Owings Mills, Maryland introduced a Kojak complete burglar alarm system, "for protection where is counts." The packaging had Kojak with a lollipop on the front and the back and included Kojak installation instructions. The system had a protective electric loop for windows and doors. A break-in and cutting wires would cause an alarm to sound. The device operated on a 12-volt battery and included extra loud "B" bell, heavy-duty weather-resistant cabinet with built-in tamper resistant circuit, 125' of double stranded wire, six sets of magnetic switches, two keys, panic button, indoor "ON-OFF" control, and warning decals. Features were built-in timer to shut off the siren in five minutes and LED indicator light for indication if alarm was triggered. This alarm system was considered wired perimeter as the lowest-cost of $50. [26]

In 2022, there are selling sites with vehicle lights and strobes. One model by Grote is the "BEACN KOJAK TEAR DROP 12V RED" as Mfr. Model # 76032 which is a 12volt cigarette lighter plug and cord attached to a magnetic mounted base strobe light. The amber model is Mfr. Model # 76033 and has the same teardrop design lens that emits 80 flashes per minute in a rotating beacon. Both items comply to SAE J845 Class I standards.



There were mini trading cards with bubble gum included in packs made in Holland and solely imported by Lemberger Food Co. Inc. in Palisades Park, NJ. A pack of 8 cards and 1 gum were sold part of the collection at 10 cents. The merchandise packaging had copyright of Universal Television, Division of Universal City Studios INC. This Monty Gum collection is a set of mini-trading cards in 1 7/8" by 2 5/8" size with 72 color images of the series on the front side with a puzzle on the back side. Another set had deckle edged 100 images of the series to arrange the puzzle, on the back was a monochrome Kojak with a lollipop and card number. Also, in the Monty Gum collection was a 56 playing card deck with double monochrome Kojak on the telephone image on the front. This is how to determine the differences in the three card sets with Kojak (on telephone or with lollipop) or none. The size of the playing cards was approximately 2" X 3" in size. The playing cards had all different images with four Kojaks as Joker Card (no sunglasses, sunglasses, lollipop, no sunglasses and no lollipop) and was made for foreign markets as K, D Q V, and J B are shown for the face cards.

Also, Milton Bradley manufactured a Kojak board game, called The Stake Out Detective. Another company, Arrow Games, Ltd, manufactured a different board game design as well in that year, calling it Kojak Detective Game. [27] This identical play board game design had a French version by MB Jeux called "Enigmes Policieieres" and a combo English/French language board game version by Somerville Industries Lt (London, Ontario, Canada) called "Jeu de Détective" "Detective Game."

Since the Kojak TV series was already showing in the UK, Mettoy Toy Co. LTD in Northampton, U.K., introduced Corgi Toys (model no. 690,) Kojak's Buick as a diecast 1:36 scale replica of the 74 Century car and indicated it as a 74 Regal. [28] This toy car includes a standing, blue suit, bald "Kojak" and movable in the back seat, "Crocker" figures in firearm shooting positions. Another version was a standing, black suit, black hat "Kojak" with "Crocker" with no appearance difference. The vehicle had the two front doors that would open, a "gun shot sound" from rolling the rear bumper wheel, and a detachable red beacon on the roof. The packaging was designed for the English, French, and German markets and included a New York Police Department Lieutenant self-adhesive police badge.

Also, Excel Toys manufactured in Hong Kong an 8 inch action figure of Kojak with all accessories including glasses, lollipops, cigar, holster, police revolver, and hat. One action figure was the blue suit (item no. 550) and the other was the pinstriped suit. The company had item no. 574, as a Police Emergency Set hand accessory kit for the action figures that included a bull horn, handcuffs, walkie-talkie, trench coat with belt, helmet, and riot gun. The action figures would be completed with a Headquarters background playset with a folded pop-up card table, desks with chair, file cabinets, coat rack, and bad guy action figure. [29]

Tomy introduced a Chad Valley Kojak Walkie Talkie. A battery operated device that had six Kojak phrases recorded when you pressed the button. The device was blue with a metal antenna that could be raised and lowered, but does not transmit or receive. The device had a clip for to attach on your belt or waist shorts/pants. The trademark was M.C.A. Universal City Studies, Inc.

The Chad Valley Company Ltd., also had the Kojak Target Game with a plastic gun, pop-up knock down target, belt clip with special safety darts, and target feet. More spare darts could be ordered as 10 darts in 2 belt clips from the Birmingham, England factory.

The Mettoy Toy Co. LTD in Northhampton, U.K., introduced Corgi Junior (no. 68,) Kojak Buick copper color sedan with only the fixed red beacon on the roof with no character figures nor front doors opening. The packing was a trademark of and licensed by Universal Studies, Inc. Additionally, there was the Corgi Junior (no. 2527,) Kojak New York Police that included the Buick copper color sedan and a blue City of New York Police helicopter. The scale was 1:55 for the Corgi Junior replicas.

Continental Plastics Corp. of Hollis, NY had a made in Hong Kong item no 9116-5. It was branded as Harmony as the Kojak Detective Scope that had "9 ways to use it." It was one plastic item that was a microscope, magnifier, flat mirror, telescope, fire lighter, binoculars, solar clock, compass, code messages, and reading glasses. The packing was a trademark of and licensed by Universal Studies, Inc. and had a 1.00 dollar plus tax price sticker.

Continental Plastics Corp. made another Hong Kong item no 9. It was branded as Harmony as the Kojak Walkie Talkie that had a badge, ID, and whistle. Also, the packing was a trademark and licensed with a 1.00 dollar plus tax price sticker. This plastic toy was not operational as other models available.

Also, Lone Star Products Ltd. produced a Kojak cast metal repeater cap pistol as catalog no 1180.

Continental Plastics Corp. made another Hong Kong item as no 9128-9. It was branded as Harmony with the Kojak Harbor Patrol that included chopper, rescue boats, and ID card. The packing was a trademark of and licensed by Universal Studies, Inc. and had a .79 cents plus tax price sticker. The item appeared as set up from another series by consumers opinions. [30]

Additionally, Ideal Toy Company, of Hollis, NY produced the Pocket Flix as a battery-operated handheld motorized movie viewer with a sold separately Kojak Snap on Movie cassette clip of the series.

Another trading card appeared in the Swedish Samlarsaker (collectibles) set of Swedish Pop Stars non-sport trading cards featuring Kojak as card 702.

Later toys

Corgi reissued the Kojak Buick Regal, under their Corgi Classics banner ( # 57403). No beacon, no sound, and no "Crocker" in the rear seat. A standing Kojak figure was in a shooting position; "hand painted and cast in white metal rather than plastic, using the familiar fedora hat and coat mould." [28]

This same model by Corgi Classics, was repackaged one final time. (# CC00501) The same Buick, with a small card figure of Kojak.

Decades later, a manufacturer has Kojak car license plate, "383 JDZ" in a "1/24 1/25 scale model car movie TV license plates tags" to be used on model cars.

Another toy manufacturer, Goldvarg Collection, created a 1:43 scale of the Kojak car described as "1974 Buick Century colour Nutmeg Poly." [31]

There is a custom manufacturer that creates a "1/6 scale custom Telly Savalas Kojack [sic] Action Figure head" to be placed on 12 inch action figure bodies.

On an internet selling site, novelty Kojak and Crocker Police Badges are made ID's printed on CR80 PVC plastic credit card size - 85.6 x 54mm (3.375 x 2.125 inches) as movie props with images of Lieutenant Theo Kojak - Telly Savalas or Detective Bobby Crocker - Kevin Dobson.

There is a tiny plastic red or blue colored beacon that can used on emergency vehicles. It has a description as a "1:25 scale model resin Federal Fireball Beacon red Kojak police light" or "1:25 scale model resin Federal Fireball Beacon blue Kojak police light." It also can be used on 1:24 scale vehicles. The item can be painted in enamel, acrylic, or lacquer. The manufacturer, Three Inches Under, introduced this item in 2014 as part, BEAKOJB.

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