Abe Vigoda Dead at 94

He was in 'Barney Miller,' the 'Godfather'
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2016 1:49 PM CST
Abe Vigoda Dead at 94
Abe Vigoda in 2011.   (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)

Beloved character actor Abe Vigoda is dead at 94. He died in his sleep in his New Jersey home, and his daughter chalks it up to old age. "This man was never sick," she tells AP. Vigoda might be best known for his role as detective Phil Fish in the 1970s sitcom Barney Miller, but his big break came before that when Francis Ford Coppola cast him as Sal Tessio in the Godfather. ("Tell Mike it was only business" is one memorable line, uttered as he was being led to his death.) After Barney Miller, Vigoda went on to star in his own short-lived sitcom, Fish, and made countless appearances in films. As TMZ notes, his death has been falsely reported over and over again, dating back to 1982. But this time it's the real deal.

The AP quotes the Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows on Vigoda's role in Barney Miller: ''Not only did he look incredible, he sounded and acted like every breath might be his last. Fish was always on the verge of retirement, and his worst day was when the station house toilet broke down." Vigoda himself often recalled getting the part: He'd just finished a 5-mile jog, and the pilot's producer told him he looked like he had hemorrhoids. "What are you—a doctor or a producer?" Vigoda asked, and was cast immediately. (More Abe Vigoda stories.)

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