The late blooming star from the Godfather dies at 94 due to natural causes after being a cult figure for a long time.
Abe Vigoda, the actor who played Tessio in Francis Ford Coppola’s epic 1972 adaptation of the Mario Puzo novel “The Godfather” and later on played the worn-out Detective Fish on the station-house sitcom “Barney Miller,” opposite Hal Linden was reported to have passed away.
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Abe Vigoda's daughter Carol Vigoda Fuchs told the NYTimes about his death. She made a statement to the Associated Press that the actor had passed away in his sleep at the age of 94.
That is 34 more years than when he was first reported dead. His being presumed dead has given him the status of a cult figure who lived beyond death although he never died. David Letterman and Conan O’Brien invited him on their talk shows just to prove that the actor was still alive.
Born as Abraham Charles Vigoda in New York City on Feb. 24, 1921, to Samuel Vigoda, a tailor, and the former Lena Moses, immigrants from Russia.
Abe, one of three brothers, began acting as a teenager and turned professional in 1947. He spent most of his youth performing almost entirely onstage for the next 20 or more years.
The tall and graying actor with a long face, sturdy jaw and deep-set eyes, was a 50-year-old stage actor who had earned his stripes on and off Broadway performing Shakespeare, Strindberg and Shaw when he was offered the role of Tessio in The Godfather.
He was a Russian Jew and expressed that he had no specific attachments to the Mafia. However he lived in Little Italy for his film role an frequently visited the New York and Brooklyn streets that were featured in the movie. Tessio’s character betrays the Corleone family which seals his fate but Vigoda returned to reprise his role in the sequel.
He then played the worn out Detective Fish alongside Hal Linden in the lead as “Barney Miller”. He stayed with the show for two seasons earning him an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy.
He then left the show to feature in his own spin-off Fish. With an extended TV career he also appeared in various movies including “Cannonball Run II” (1984), “Look Who’s Talking” (1989), “Joe Versus the Volcano” (1990), “Sugar Hill” (1993) and “Underworld” (1996).
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The actor was remembered by Conan O’ Brien after his monologue on Tuesday. He remembered all the times that Abe had been on the show to perform.