Best known as Detective Phil Fish from the Barney Miller TV series and its spin-off, Fish, Abe Vigoda passed away today, January 26, at the age of 94. This character actor appeared on the now-cancelled soap operas Dark Shadows, As the World Turns, and Santa Barbara. He also recurred in three episodes of the 2000 comedy series, Manhattan AZ, which was cancelled by USA Network, before his episodes aired.
Although coming to TV and film later in his career, Mr. Vigoda had a list of credits a mile long. Arguably, his two biggest roles were in The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II films, as mafioso Sal Tessio, of Don Corleone’s organization. Vigoda would later voice the character for a number of Godfather-themed video games.
Here is more, excerpted from The New York Times:
Abraham Charles Vigoda was born 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, performing almost entirely onstage for the next 20 or more years.
In 1960 he starred in an Off Broadway production of the Strindberg drama “The Dance of Death,” and he appeared frequently at the New York Shakespeare Festival in the early ’60s, as John of Gaunt in “Richard II” and King Alonzo in “The Tempest,” among other roles.
In 1963 he had the lead in an Off Broadway production of Shaw’s “Mrs. Warren’s Profession.” Five years later he was on Broadway in Peter Weiss’s “Marat/Sade.”
Complete information on his survivors was not immediately available.
Per The New York Times report, “His daughter Carol Vigoda Fuchs, told The Associated Press that Mr. Vigoda had died in his sleep at her home.”
A People magazine article famously labeled the the actor as the “late Abe Vigoda,” back in the early 1980s. People was not the only outlet to make the mistake, over the years, but Vigoda took the flubs with a great sense of humor. Eventually, someone created the website AbeVigoda.com, solely for the purpose of tracking his status. It has already been updated.
The Personal life and death section of Vigoda’s Wikipedia page records that he was married to the former Beatrice Schy from February 25, 1968, until her passing in April, 1992. Per that entry, Ms. Vigoda Fuchs was the couple’s only daughter.
According to a Washington Post report, Vigoda’s previous marriage to Sonja Gohlke ended in divorce. Per that article, his survivors include daughter Carol, three grandchildren, and a great grandson.
You are invited to share your memories of Mr. Vigoda, below.