This Time It’s Real, Actor Abe Vigoda Passes at Age 94 [VIDEO]
I know that we have heard this before, but this time actor Abe Vigoda has truly passed away at age 94.
The rumors of the actor's untimely demise began in the 1980's, when a director told his production staff that he needed an Abe Vigoda "type", completely unaware that the actor was still alive and going strong. Then in 1982 People magazine gave us the original death hoax, referring to the actor, who came to fame on the 1970's comedy series Barney Miller, as the "late" Abe Vigoda. Vigoda, who was famous for his ability to laugh at himself, responded to the article by posing for a Variety photo holding a copy of People, sitting in a coffin.
But five years later the Vigoda-is-dead rumor was revived when a New Jersey TV reporter referred to him as “the late Abe Vigoda” and waited a whole day to correct her error. The dead Vigoda gag was just too good for most people to let go, and his death quickly became a running gag. David Letterman even got into the act; during one skit on The Late Show, Letterman tried to summon Vigoda's ghost. In walked Vigoda declaring, “I’m not dead yet, you pinhead!”
Vigoda appeared with Betty White in a Snickers candy bar Super Bowl commercial in 2010, poking fun at their ages. Both were 88 at the time.
Abraham Charles Vigoda was born Feb. 24, 1921, the oldest of three sons of Russian immigrants. Unusually tall for the era (he stood over 6' tall), and agile, Vigoda found regular work on Broadway during the '60s and early '70s. But it wasn't until Francis Ford Coppola cast him in the role of the double-crossing mobster "Tessio" in The Godfather, that Vigoda began to garner attention.
It was that role got the attention of producers of a new comedy series called Barney Miller, who cast Vigoda in the role of "Detective Fish", an aging, veteran Detective in the 12th Precinct. The incredibly successful series led to a spin-off for Vigoda, in which he resumed the role as the title character. Vigoda continued acting well into his 80s and was a recurring visitor on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, despite supposedly being dead.
Vigoda is survived by his daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, who confirmed to the Associated Press that her father passed away peacefully in his sleep.