94 (passed away Jan. 26th, 2016)
Feb. 24th, 1921
New York City, New York, USA
Abe Vigoda's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles2003 - Crime Spree
1998 - A Brooklyn State of Mind
1997 - Good Burger
1996 - Love Is All There Is
1995 - Jury Duty
1994 - North
1993 - Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
1993 - Fist of Honor
1990 - Joe Versus the Volcano
1989 - Look Who's Talking
1989 - Prancer
1988 - Plain Clothes
1985 - The Stuff
1984 - Cannonball Run II
1978 - The Cheap Detective
1974 - The Godfather: Part II
1972 - The Godfather
Guest TV Roles
Phil 'The Dancer' Gabriel
Tall, dour-faced and slouch-shouldered character actor who has proved himself in both gritty dramatic roles and as an actor with wonderful comedic timing. Vigoda was the son of a Lower East Side tailor. He made his first stage appearance at the age of 17 and plodded away in small theatre shows for over 20 years. For the majority of filmgoers, 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 also appeared in a few non-descript TV films before landing the plum role of Sgt. Phil Fish on the brilliant sitcom "Barney Miller" (1975). 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 realising 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 (1997), and Crime Spree (2003). Still acting in his eighties, Abe Vigoda is continually surprising audiences with his entertaining style.
- In the 1980s, a well-known magazine referred to Vigoda as "the late Abe Vigoda" in a story, leading to the belief by many that he was dead. Abe enjoyed some publicity from the premature death announcement, even posing for a photograph while sitting up in a coffin!
- According to director 'Francis Ford Coppola' (qv), Abe was cast for the role of "Tessio" in _The Godfather (1972)_ (qv) from an open casting call. He was selected from a pool of 500 unknown actors who auditioned for that role.
- Abe's father Samuel Vigoda was a Tailor in New York City.
- Was originally considered to play the part of The Monster in 'Mel Brooks' (qv)' comedy classic _Young Frankenstein (1974)_ (qv), given his height and tremendous resemblance to 'Boris Karloff' (qv).
- Was highly acclaimed playing the eponymous villain in "Richard III" for in the Public Theater's "Shakespeare in the Park" production in the 1960s.
- Was portrayed by 'Michael J. Nelson' (qv) on an episode of _"Mystery Science Theater 3000" (1988)_ (qv).
- Is a regularly recurring visitor on _"Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (1993)_ (qv).
- Best remembered by the public for his role as Detective Fish in _"Barney Miller" (1975)_ (qv).