Kojak

Kojak

Television
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Kojak

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Kojak is an American television series starring Telly Savalas as the title character, bald New York City Police Department Detective Lieutenant Theo Kojak. It aired from October 24, 1973, to March 18, 1978, on CBS. It took the time slot of the popular Cannon series, which was moved one hour earlier. Kojak's Greek American heritage, shared by actor Savalas, was prominently featured in the series.

Production

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 "Career Girls Murders". The crime involved the brutal rape and murder of two young professional women in Manhattan.

Due to poor 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 male, 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, a white junkie.

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 the 1973 made-for-TV movie, The Marcus-Nelson Murders. The...
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