At $3500, I have no intention of buying the cuirass worn by Telly Savalas as Pontius Pilate in The Greatest Story Ever Told, now up for auction at 1stdibs. It sure is sweet to look at a bunch of pictures of it there, however, even if they won’t let me download them! This uniform was designed by Vittorio Nino Novarese, later to win Oscars for Cleopatra and Cromwell, who squabbled with Greatest Story director George Stevens over the appearance of Pilate in the film.
Released by MGM Studios in 1965, “The Greatest Story Ever Told” was a star studded film dealing with the death of Jesus (Max Von Sydow). Pontius Pilate, the commanding officer of the occupying Roman army, is played by Telly Savalas, of later “Kojak” TV fame. The chest plate is molded leather over fiberglass, with metal medallion decorations. The bottom red fringe is a more supple leather, also decorated by medallions. The costume opens on both sides, with ties for access. The interior is marked in felt marker “Savalas Pilate”. The costume is mounted on a custom-made steel Stand and both are in nice original condition. The costume originated from an MGM auction in the early 1970s, when the studio was thinning out its’ inventory of costumes and props. Photo of Mr. Savalas in costume are included.