Here’s to Abe Vigoda: “For Old Times’ Sake”


To paraphrase Samuel Clemens, reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated for years…since an early ’80s People Magazine article, in fact. It reached a point where “Abe Vigoda: Alive or Dead?” took on a pop culture life of its own and was a running gag on more than one late-night talk show, a gag that the tall, perpetually-slouched character actor was more than willing to take part in to disprove. In spite of this, it still came as a surprise earlier this week to hear that Vigoda has indeed died, passing away in his daughter’s New Jersey home at the age of 94.

The Godfather

His performing career on the stage, screen and in TV lasted more than 65 years, but it was two key 1970s roles–on opposite sides of the law–for which Abe will best be remembered. The first was as ill-fated Corleone crime family lieutenant Salvatore Tessio in The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II.  Following those dramatic turns, Abe switched to comedy as veteran NPYD detective Phil Fish in the late ’70s ABC sitcom Barney Miller and its two-season spin-off series Fish.

In later years moviegoers would see Vigoda in a variety of roles:

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alongside Clara “Where’s the beef?” Peller in a fake TV commercial for The Stuff (1985)…



Vigoda, Abe

as John Travolta’s centenarian grandfather in Look Who’s Talking (1987)…


Joe vs. the Volcano

The chief of the Waponi natives in Joe versus the Volcano (1990)…


Good Burger

…and as Otis, the seemingly ageless French fry guy in Good Burger (1997), among others. “When I was a young man,” he once said in a newspaper interview, “I was told success had to come in my youth. I found this to be a myth. My experiences have taught me that if you deeply believe in what you are doing, success can come at any age.” And so it did for him.

What’s your favorite Abe Vigoda TV or movie moment? Please share it with us in the comments below.