For two weeks in March of 1975, Telly Savalas's spoken-word performance of the Bread smash "If" rode the top of the UK charts. That put Savalas in the often awkward situation of having to lip sync the tune live on TV.
Here, we grade three performances.
B- : In the least known of his televised "IF" performances, Savalas begins out of sync and completely falls behind in his desperate efforts to light a cigarette in four seconds. He smiles at his own mistake and quickly shifts back into character but never quite regains sync. Afterwards, withy misty eyes, he gives a polite nod to the crowd and then speed walks off the stage, a dejected, hulking figure.
A- : Savalas gets the cigarette lit right at the top for German TV. This is key to a great "If" performance. Plus, he is synced-up. By now, he knows every nuance of the song. Naturally, your eye is drawn to the blonde who gazes upwards or at the camera apparently without a thought or care in the world. So blank is her expression that when Savalas recites the line "There's no one home", you have to take him at his word.
A+ : Wearing an Escher-like shirt that screams "I'm a puzzle! Don't try to figure me out!", Telly Savalas walks up to the window with his cigarette already lit and looks upon a young brunette reading a magazine. It's a little creepy. Is she his prisoner? This time Savalas doesn't bother with lip syncing. Simply by taking off his glasses, he sends her thought messages. She gives him a smile and a nod that says "Yes, I'll come inside so you can repeatedly kiss the bridge of my nose". Savalas and his prisoner have brandy by candlelight. He reaches over to kiss her hand, and you know what that leads to: a change of wardrobe for her and solitaire on the floor. Without bothering to look at the cards, he knows the next move. Grabbing her by the throat he plants a few more nose kisses and sets her free Or does he?