Theater archives

Telly Savalas Takes His Bald Head To The Stage


The ’70s star of Kojak and self-possessed crooner of love tunes is back, complete with his illustrious glitterdome.

Who Loves Ya, Baby?, which I caught at the Fringe Festival, has
Tom DiMenna doing a swell impression of the macho-man actor, swiveling back from the dead to tell stories about looking for Peter Falk’s missing eye and playing with Maud Adams’s fiery libido.

“What are you looking at, abyss?” says Telly when he notices it staring back at him. “You’re sweet on me? Take a walk!”

DiMenna tosses off these daft utterances in between song renderings that capture Telly’s weird accent, frozen smile, missed notes, and sudden bouts of straining for profundity.

The hour-long show, written by Hunter Nelson, is basically one joke, and it’s a little too self-winking, but it’s a jazzy visit from a dead person who liked it better before crime-show titles were like an eye chart and their stars smelled of hand sanitizer.

“Men were men,” says Telly — and he’s joined onstage by several of them.

Most notably, director Taylor Negron starts the show with a childhood remembrance of the time Telly handed him a plate of steak tartare and informed him, “Real men like it raw”.

Even true quotes from Savalas come off like satire.

Also seen at the Fringe:

The Average-Sized Mermaid (I only saw the first half because of scheduling), a clever romp about a feminist who, to her horror, sprouts a mermaid’s tale out of the blue. It’s a real fish-out-of-water story.

But Killing John Grisham almost killed several audience members. There was no air in the room, baby!