Pattakos was born on 8 November 1912, in the village of Agia Paraskevi in Rethymno Prefecture, Crete, and studied at the Hellenic Military Academy.
Pattakos eventually rose to the rank of Brigadier and was assigned to the tank training centre at Goudi in Athens. He along with Georgios Papadopoulos and Nikolaos Makarezos planned and executed the coup on the night of April 20 to April 21, 1967, claiming political anomaly had made them to do so.
Pattakos was assigned the Ministry of the Interior. As head of that post, Pattakos made the decision to strip Greek actress and political activist, Melina Mercouri, of her Greek citizenship and to also confiscate her property. Mercouri retorted "I was born a Greek and I will die a Greek. Mr. Pattakos was born a fascist and he will die a fascist".
On 25 November 1973, Brigadier General Dimitrios Ioannides overthrew Papadopoulos. The following year, the 7-year Junta came to an end in the aftermath of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
The newly restored democratic government of Constantine Karamanlis put the junta officials on trial with charges of high treason and insurrection against Georgios Papadopoulos and other co-conspirators. Pattakos, along with the other principal leaders of the 1967 coup, Papadopoulos and Makarezos, were sentenced to death for high treason, following the trial. Shortly after the sentences were pronounced, they were commuted to life imprisonment by the Karamanlis government.
Pattakos was released from jail in 1990 by the government of Konstantinos Mitsotakis due to alleged health reasons. He later stated that he did not regret any of his actions during the dictatorship.
Pattakos died on 8 October 2016 at the age of 103.