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Subject: ARCHIVE: January 26, 2016 ~Character actor Abe Vigoda, best known as ill-fated 'Tessio' in 1972 classic film, "The Godfather", and memorable comic role as 'Det. Phil Fish' on TV's "Barney Miller, succumbed to old age, when he died in his sleep at age 94. ...

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Date Posted: Saturday, January 27, 12:00:09am

American character actor who was known for a number of roles,
most notably, his portrayals of 'Salvatore Tessio' in "The Godfather" (1972)
and 'Phil Fish' in "Barney Miller" (1975–1977, 1982) and Fish (1977–1978). ...

Abe Vigoda
[ Abraham Charles Vigoda ]
(February 24, 1921 – January 26, 2016)

Career ...
Vigoda began acting while in his teens, working with the American Theatre Wing. His career as a professional actor began in 1947. He gained acting notability in the 1960s with his work in Broadway productions, including Marat/Sade (1967), portraying Mad Animal, The Man in the Glass Booth (1968), portraying Landau, Inquest (1970), and Tough to Get Help (1972). His best known film role is that of Salvatore Tessio in The Godfather (1972). He also appeared briefly in The Godfather Part II in a flashback sequence at the end of the film.

According to Francis Ford Coppola's commentary on the DVD's widescreen edition, Vigoda landed the role of
'Tessio' in an "open call", in which actors who did not have agents could come in for an audition. ...

...He gained further fame as Phil Fish on Barney Miller, a character known for his world-weary demeanor and persistent hemorrhoids.
Vigoda landed the role after an unusual audition, in which he unwittingly displayed that he was a perfect fit for the role:

While living in Los Angeles, I'd jog three to five miles a day. One morning jogging,
my agent calls about a new series called Barney Miller, saying, "Go there at once."

Well, I was tired and exhausted ... I must have run five miles that morning. I said. "I have to go home and take a shower."

"No, no, no. Go right now to Studio City, you're very right for it, they know you from The Godfather, they want to see you."

"With my shorts?"


Danny Arnold and Ted Flicker, the producers, look at me, I look at them, they look at me again. "You look tired."

"Of course I'm tired, I jogged five miles this morning, I'm exhausted."

"Yeah, yeah, tell me, you look like you have hemorrhoids."

"What are you, a doctor or a producer?"

—Abe Vigoda, quoted in Louis Zorich's What Have You Done?:
The Inside Stories of Auditioning—from the Ridiculous to the Sublime (2009).

Vigoda starred in a brief spin-off of Barney Miller that centered on his
character eponymously titled Fish until it was cancelled in June 1978. ...

Mistaken reports of death ...
Prior to his actual death in January 2016, Vigoda was a constant victim of celebrity death hoaxes. In 1982, People magazine mistakenly referred to Vigoda as dead. At the time, Vigoda, aged 60, was performing in a stage play in Calgary. He took the mistake with good humor, posing for a photograph published in Variety in which he was sitting up in a coffin, holding the erroneous issue of People. Jeff Jarvis, a People employee at the time, said that the magazine's editors were known for "messing up" stories and one of them repeatedly inserted the phrase "the late" in reference to Vigoda, even after a researcher correctly removed it. The edited (erroneous) version was what went to print. In 1987, the same mistake was made when a reporter for WWOR, Channel 9 in Secaucus, New Jersey, mistakenly referred to him as the "late Abe Vigoda". She realized and corrected her mistake the next day.

He had been the subject of many running gags pertaining to the mistaken reports of his death. In 1997, Vigoda appeared in Good Burger as the character Otis, a restaurant's French fry man. Several jokes were made about his advanced age, including his character Otis saying, "I should've died years ago." That same year, he was shopping at Bloomingdale's in Manhattan when the salesman remarked, "You look like Abe Vigoda. But you can't be Abe Vigoda because he's dead." A Late Night with David Letterman skit showed Letterman trying to summon Vigoda's ghost, but Vigoda walked in and declared, "I'm not dead yet, you pinhead!".

At a New York Friars Club roast of Rob Reiner which Vigoda attended, Billy Crystal wisecracked, "I have nothing to say about Abe. I was always taught to speak well of the dead."

In May 2001, a website was created with only one purpose: to report whether Vigoda was alive or dead. In addition, in 2005, a "tongue-in-cheek" Firefox extension was released with the sole purpose of telling the browser user Vigoda's status.

Continuing with the gag, he appeared frequently to make fun of his status on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, including a guest appearance on the show's final episode. At the 1998 New York Friars Club roast of Drew Carey, with Vigoda in the audience, Jeff Ross joked, "My one regret is that Abe Vigoda isn't alive to see this." He followed that with "Drew, you go to Vegas; what's the over–under on Abe Vigoda?". On January 23, 2009, Vigoda appeared live on The Today Show. He said he was doing well, joked about previous reports of his death and announced he had just completed a voice-over for an H&R Block commercial to air during the Super Bowl.

Vigoda and Betty White, both 88 years old at the time, appeared in "Game,"
a Snickers commercial that debuted during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010.
The synopsis made fun of the advanced age of the actors. The Super Bowl Ad
Meter poll respondents rated the ad the highest of any shown during the game. .

In 2011, his daughter gathered family, friends, and collegues to
celebrate Abe's 90th birthday, including "Barney Miller" co-star Hal Linden. ...

Personal life ...
Vigoda and his first wife Sonja Gohlke had one daughter named Carol. The marriage ended in divorce.
His second marriage to Beatrice Schy lasted from 1968 until her death in 1992. ...

Vigoda enjoyed playing handball and stated in an interview that he was "almost"
a champion at the game in his youth. Vigoda's nephew is computer scientist, Ben Vigoda. ...

Death ...
On January 26, 2016, Vigoda died in his sleep at his daughter Carol Fuchs' home in Woodland Park, New Jersey of natural causes at age 94.

On January 31, 2016, Vigoda's funeral was held. Notable figures including comic Gilbert Gottfried,
former New York City mayor David Dinkins, and Friars Club roastmaster general Jeffrey Ross attended.
He was interred besides his parents at Beth David Cemetery in NY. ...

On the 2017 Academy Awards show, Vigoda was not included in the show's memorial reel,
surprising many and prompting a small PR backlash. ...

Links ...

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Subject Author Date
He's best known as Fish (NT)Tessio was his first relatively prominent roleSaturday, January 27, 06:47:39am
I attended his funeral on 1/31/2016.chuckSaturday, January 27, 07:55:51am
The kid in the sports jersey, pictured above in the FISH sitcom pic, was former child actor John Cassisi, who is NOW serving 2 to 6 years in Fed prison for taking half million in a fed bribery scheme! ...PHOTOSaturday, January 27, 10:08:23am

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