Abe Vigoda

Abe Vigoda

Tall, dour-faced and slouch-shouldered character actor Abe Vigoda proved himself in both gritty dramatic roles, and as an actor with wonderful comedic timing.

Vigoda was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Lena (Moses) and Samuel Vigoda, both Russian Jewish immigrants. His father was a tailor on the Lower East Side. He made his first stage appearance at the age of 17 and plodded away in small theater shows for over 20 years. For the majority of film-goers, Vigoda first came to prominence in The Godfather (1972) as the double-crossing Tessio, pleading with Robert Duvall to get him off the hook "for old times' sake." He also appeared in its sequel.

Vigoda had roles in a few nondescript TV films before landing the plum part of Sgt. Phil Fish on the brilliant sitcom Barney Miller (1974). Perhaps his best known role, Sgt. Fish proved popular enough to be spun off to his own (short-lived) series Fish (1977).

With his long face and unusual looks, Vigoda remained in high demand in mafioso-type roles, and for a while in the mid-1980s, he was mistakenly believed to have been dead, leading producers to remark, "I need an Abe Vigoda type actor," not realizing Vigoda was still alive and well. The 1990s and beyond became busy again for him, with appearances in North (1994), The Misery Brothers (1995), A Brooklyn State of Mind (1998), and Crime Spree (2003). He continued acting into his 90s, surprising audiences with his entertaining style.

Abe Vigoda died in his sleep on January 26, 2016 in Woodland Park, New Jersey.

YearTitleCharacterRelease Date
1999

Just the Ticket

Arty1999-02-26
1998

Witness To The Mob

Paul Castellano1998-05-10
1998

A Brooklyn State of Mind

Uncle Guy1998-01-01
1997
Good Burger
Otis1997-07-25
1996
Underworld
Will Cassady1996-06-01
1996

Love Is All There Is

Rudy1996-05-10
1995

Jury Duty

Judge Powell1995-04-12
1995

The Misery Brothers

Don Frito Layleone1995-01-01
1994
North
Alaskan Grandpa1994-07-22
1994
Sugar Hill
Gus Molino1994-02-25
1993
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Salvatore Valestra (voice)1993-12-25
1993
Fist of Honor
Victor Malucci1993-05-19
1990
Joe Versus the Volcano
Chief of the Waponis1990-03-09
1990
Keaton's Cop
Louis Keaton1990-03-09
1989
Prancer
Orel Benton1989-11-17
1989
Look Who's Talking
Grandpa1989-10-12
1988
Plain Clothes
Mr. Wiseman1988-01-01
1986
Vasectomy: A Delicate Matter
Abe1986-01-01
1984
Cannonball Run II
Caesar1984-06-29
1979
Death Car on the Freeway
Mr. Frisch1979-09-24
1978
The Cheap Detective
Sergeant Rizzuto1978-06-23
1974
The Godfather: Part II
Tessio1974-12-20
1974
Newman's Law
John Dellanzia1974-08-21
1973
The Don Is Dead
Don Talusso1973-11-14
1973
The Devil's Daughter
Alikhine1973-01-09
1972
The Godfather
Salvatore "Sally" Tessio1972-03-14