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The Independent Culture
Though he entered the acting profession late, Telly Savalas long nursed a craving to be a leading man. A vain hope. That face doomed him to heavies (The Dirty Dozen), foreign types (Horror Express) and persistent offenders (The Birdman of Alcatraz). The studios saw him as a bully boy, ignoring performances that displayed true wit. Witness his pathologically snobbish Blofeld, making mock-romantic love to Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Even when his snappy incarnation of My Boy Lollipop allowed him to conquer global television, cinema refused to yield to his fantasies; the most fame could do was to remodel him as an eccentric (the crop sprayer of Capricorn One) or have him walk through absurd scenarios, flaunting his Kojak mannerisms (in Lisa and the Devil his sinister butler sucks those trademark lollipops).

Savalas compensated with an off-screen lifestyle worthy of the old-fashioned film star he wanted to be, earning and spending a fortune made from a character who allowed him to be the nominal hero, but whom he ultimately, ironically, came to resent. Final reports suggest he met his death from cancer with the blunt humour that marked his best work and that his appetite for life was sated, even if ambition remained unsatisfied.

Two pieces of vital information. First, the statistics published this week showing that most Britions make fewer than two visits a year to the cinema. This is less than half the figure in America, despite the rise of the modern multi- centre complex, expressly designed to lure punters away from their TV sets.

Second, the results of the Consumer Association and Check It Out magazine's study found cinema snacks to be 'expensive' and 'second- rate' - researchers rated one in five hot dogs as 'disgusting'. The magazine also said many cinemas could improve their timekeeping. Films started later than advertised in nearly half of the 20 cinemas visited. One set of figures couldn't have anything to do with the other, could they?