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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Who is Abe Vigoda?

Who is Abraham Charles Vigoda ? The acting and entertainment world knows him as Abe Vigoda, he is  an American movie and television actor. Vigoda is well known for his portrayal of Sal Tessio in The Godfather, and for his portrayal of Detective Sgt. Phil Fish on the sitcom television series Barney Miller from 1975–1977 and on its spinoff show Fish that aired from February 1977 to June 1978 on ABC. Vigoda was still also appearing on Barney Miller at the same time as he was on Fish during the 1976–1977 TV season; at the start of the 1977–1978 season, his character retired from the police force and left Barney Miller to focus full time on the spinoff.
He made regular appearances as himself (usually in skits relating to his "advanced age") on the television show Late Night with Conan O'Brien, including a cameo on that show's final episode.

Early life and family

Vigoda was born February 24, 1921, in New York City, the son of Lena  and Samuel Vigoda, Jewish immigrants from Russia.[1][2] His father was a tailor and his brother, Bill Vigoda, was a comic-book artist who drew for the Archie comics franchise and others in the 1940s.[3]
Vigoda was married once, to Beatrice Schy from February 25, 1968 until her death on April 30, 1992. They had one child, a daughter, Carol who gave him three grandsons Jamie, Paulie, and Steven. [4]

Career

Abe Vigoda in The Godfather


Abe Vigoda in Barney Miller
Vigoda gained fame through his supporting character roles, notably as elder mobster Salvatore Tessio in The Godfather (1972). He gained further fame playing Detective Sgt. Phil Fish on Barney Miller, and then led its brief spinoff Fish until it was canceled in 1978. Before Barney Miller, he made a few appearances on the ABC TV soap Dark Shadows as Ezra Braithwaite and Otis Greene. He has also appeared in several Broadway productions, including Marat/Sade (1967), The Man in the Glass Booth (1968), Inquest (1970), Tough to Get Help (1972), and Arsenic and Old Lace (1987). His trademark hunched posture and slow delivery of lines made him appear older than he really was.
On January 23, 2009, Vigoda appeared live on The Today Show. He said he was doing well, joked about previous reports of his death and in fact announced he had just completed a voice-over for an H&R Block commercial to air during the Super Bowl. On December 30, 2009 Vigoda was invited back to The Today Show to appear live on the set for Matt Lauer's birthday party. Vigoda was warmly greeted by Lauer who called him "our favorite guest of all times" on the show. Vigoda discussed his long career with Lauer. He returned to "The Today Show" on June 8, 2011 to celebrate Meredith Vieira's last day on the show.
On the set of "The Today Show" for Meredith Viera's last show
Vigoda appeared alongside Betty White in a Snickers commercial that debuted during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010.[5] The actor has also been honored with pop culture references, many in connection with false reports of his death. Jazz bassist Eric Revis's song "Abe Vigoda" appears on saxophonist Branford Marsalis's 2009 album Metamorphosen.

False reports of his death

In 1982, People magazine referred to Vigoda as dead. Vigoda took the error with good humor, posing for a photograph in which he was sitting up in a coffin, holding the magazine in question.
Erroneous reports of Vigoda's death as well as questions of whether he is alive or dead have become a running joke:
Abe Vigoda in Good Burger
  • A Late Night with David Letterman skit showed Letterman trying to summon Vigoda's ghost. Vigoda then walked in and declared, "I'm not dead yet, you pinhead!"
  • In a Comedy Central Roast of Drew Carey, with Abe Vigoda present in the audience, comedian Jeffrey Ross stated "and my one regret is that Abe Vigoda isn't alive to see this." He followed that with "Drew, you go to Vegas, what's the over-under on Abe Vigoda?"
  • Vigoda appeared in the 1997 film Good Burger as the character Otis (he was the restaurant's French fry man). Several jokes were made about his age, including Otis himself saying "I should've died years ago" while wearing an oxygen tank.
  • A November 2006 Conan O'Brien sketch showed an audience member summoning the dead. The "deceased person" turned out to be Vigoda.
  • Episode 7 of 2010 sitcom Running Wilde included a scene with various well known actors and their availability listed on a blackboard, Abe Vigoda appearing as "Dead(?)".
  • Season 4, episode 21 of Yes, Dear features a song entitled "Things I Think About At Work" with a line stating "I wonder if Abe Vigoda's still alive".

Filmography

Television work

 

 

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