Actor Abe Vigoda, known for 'Godfather' role, dies at age 94

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 26, 2016 3:01 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Abe Vigoda, an American actor best known for roles in "The Godfather" and the 1970s sitcom "Barney Miller," died on Tuesday at the age of 94, after spending three decades jokingly refuting rumors of his demise.

Vigoda's daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, said her father died at her home in New Jersey. "He died in his sleep, of natural causes. He was not sick," she told Reuters.

Vigoda was known for his role in "The Godfather" in 1972, playing mobster traitor Salvatore Tessio in his first credited movie role. His character was doomed for betraying the Corleone family in the film but had a cameo role in the flashback scenes of "The Godfather Part II" two years later.

His most famous role was as the grumpy and deadpan Detective Sergeant Phil Fish in the "Barney Miller" police comedy series. He picked up three supporting-actor Emmy nominations for the part.

Vigoda spent years amiably proving he was still alive after People magazine mistakenly declared him "the late Abe Vigoda" in 1982, when he was 62. The question of his mortality became a running gag but, as the New York Times said, he learned to live with it.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Andrew Hay)