Actor Abe Vigoda Dies…For Real this Time

Abe Vogoda

Announcements of his death were premature…until now.

Longtime actor Abe Vigoda died January 26 in his sleep at his daughter’s home in Woodland Park, New Jersey less than a month from his 95th birthday. His daughter stated that the cause of death was old age; noting that her father was never sick.

Vigoda is best known for his roles as Tessio in “The Godfather” movies and as Detective Phil Fish in “Barney Miller”; but he appeared in nearly 100 productions beginning with his 1949 debut in the television series “Suspense” and including the daytime drama “As the World Turns”, as two different characters in the Gothic drama “Dark Shadows”, “Mannix”, “Love, American Style”, “Hawaii Five-O”, “Kojak”, “cannon”, “The Bionic Woman”, as Detective Phil Fish in 35 episodes of “Fish”, “The Rockford Files”, “The Love Boat”, “Eight is Enough”, “Fantasy Island”, “BJ and the Bear”, seven episodes of the drama “Santa Barbara”, “MacGyver”, “Murder, She Wrote”, “Law & Order”, “Touched by an Angel”, and “High School USA”.

His other film roles include “The Story of Pretty Boy Floyd”, “How to Pick Up Girls”, “Cannonball Run II”, the Grandpa in “Look Who’s Talking”, “Batman: Mask of Phantasm”, “Farce of the Penguins”, and “Sweet Destiny”.

He was born Abraham Charles Vigoda on February 24, 1921 in Brooklyn, New York; the son of Russian immigrants. A young Vigoda attended the Theater School of Dramatic Arts at Carnegie Hall.

In open casting calls most actors choose some soliloquy to perform; Vigoda took it one step further and wrote his own.

Before making his mark in Hollywood, Vigoda appeared on the Broadway stage making his deubt as a Mad animal in the revival of the play “ The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Chareton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade”. He also appeared in the original play “The Man in the Glass Booth”, the original play “Inquest”, the original comedy play “Tough to Get Help”, and the revival of the comedy play “Arsenic and Old Lace”.

Performing in Off Broadway and the New York Shakespeare Festival, Vigoda appeared in “The Dance of Death”, “Richard II”, “The Tempest”, and “Mrs. Warren’s Profession”.


Predeceased by his wife of 24 years Beatrice, Vigoda is survived by his daughter Carol; grandchildren Paul, Jamie, and Steven; and a great grandson.


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