The Famous Chicken Getting Ready To Roost












by Jeffrey Reed, Editor,

After decades of working as an ink-stained scribe, few things shock me anymore. But in the early-1980s during an interview at a downtown hotel with London’s Ted Giannoulas – The Famous Chicken – I was stunned when I came face-to-face with his feathered outfit and head hanging in a closet. It was like seeing my favourite superhero, Batman, without his mask.

Fast track to just a few months ago, and Giannoulas also experience a surreal moment involving his famous mascot head.

The Famous Chicken puts the whammy on an unsuspecting player. Photo: The Famous Chicken.

“Someone had one of my chicken heads up for auction and got almost $10,000!” said a shocked yet amused Giannoulas. “I’ve given a few heads away over the years, for example to sports bars to display. So one of them may have put it up for sale. Collectors called me out of the blue asking if it is authentic before they bid on it.”

Giannoulas, 64, said he took a close look at photos of the head online, and confirmed it was the “real deal. I’ve had about 60 heads over the past 44 years, most of which I’ve kept, or else because they were so bad I just ended up recycling them or destroying them,” said Giannoulas, who now lives in San Diego, the city where he hatched his comedy routine.

“I can tell if it’s real from some of the dirt markings, and the stitching,” explained Giannoulas, “because my mom (Helen) would sew those things together for me. I can’t believe someone would pay $10,000 for my chicken head!”

But it wasn’t just an ordinary mascot head. In fact, one of Giannoulas’s complete Famous Chicken outfits is on permanent display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.

The legend of The Famous Chicken is well known. He first worked for $2 an hour in a rudimentary chicken costume for San Diego radio station KGB in 1974. After five years and enormous success, Giannoulas wanted to grow the legend, while the radio station wanted exclusive rights to the then-called San Diego Chicken. He was fired, and was sued for trademark retention.

The London native won, became a “freelance chicken,” and in July 1979 hatched at Jack Murphy Stadium at a Padres game in front of 47,000 fans.

For decades, the 5’4” acrobatic, animated Giannoulas would play stadiums and arenas 260 days a year. His act has always been part Groucho Marx, part Charlie Chaplin but mostly the young boy who lived in a modest home on Essex Street in London while attending Empress Public School and later Central Collegiate.

The Famous Chicken during one his favourite acts with his baby chicks. Photo: The Famous Chicken.

But now, Giannoulas puts on The Famous Chicken outfit for just dozens of games each year while enjoying life with his wife, Jane, and letting his body heal from a gruelling gig which has tested his physical fortitude for more than 40 years.

A little-known fact: The Famous Chicken was born at Eager Beaver Baseball Association (EBBA) Little League games at London’s Kensington and West Lions parks. “I would go out to the parks to watch my friends, and carry on along the sidelines,” Giannoulas said.

Before his family moved to San Diego when he was 16, Giannoulas also worked the old wooden scoreboard at Labatt Park during Pontiacs’ Intercounty Baseball League contests. Oddly enough, this scribe, too, worked the scoreboard and later lived on Essex Street.

Make no mistake about it: The Famous Chicken was a finely-tuned athlete – not just a “generic, homogenized” mascot like those who dominate the sports scene today, according to Giannoulas.

“I decided very early that I couldn’t just be a walk-around character that would wave to people – a benign figure. I had to be animated, like a cartoon. I brought my fascination for comedy, merged it with my love of sports. And I brought my natural athleticism into it,” he said.

The Famous Chicken refreshing an umpire. Photo: The Famous Chicken.

Jane said when she watches her husband perform, it’s like “a child experiencing fireworks for the first time.”

When Giannoulas decides to hang up The Famous Chicken outfit for good, rest assured, his contribution to sports, in particular Major League Baseball, will live forever.


Ed. Note: Watch for my feature interview with Ted Giannoulas aka The Famous Chicken, coming next week at THE INTERVIEW, only at

Jeffrey Reed is a long-time member of the London sports media, and publisher/editor of, and Have a story idea for Jeffrey? Reach him at

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!