Abe Vigoda

Abe Vigoda

Brooklyn, New York
February 24
Date of passing: 
January 26, 2016




Photo credit: 
AP Photo/Jeff Robbins





Abe Vigoda was an actor best known for his role as Detective Phil Fish on the TV series Barney Miller. He earned three Emmy Award nominations — in 1976, 1977 and 1978 — for his supporting role on the ABC sitcom, which followed the captain (played by Hal Linden) of a New York City police station staff, as he and his team handled the daily struggles of their jobs.

Vigoda was 53 when he got the part, and the series lasted for eight seasons, finally winning the Emmy Award for outstanding comedy series in 1982, after the final season. He later starred in his own spin-off series, Fish, which ran for two seasons, in 1977 and 1978.

He was also known for his role as mob boss Salvatore Tessio in Francis Ford Coppola’s first two Godfather films. Additionally, Vigoda had roles in the feature films The Don Is Dead, starring Anthony Quinn; Newman’s Law, with George Peppard; The Cheap Detective, with Peter Falk; Cannonball Run II, with Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise and Frank Sinatra; Look Who’s Talking, with John Travolta and Kirstie Alley; Prancer, with Sam Elliott and Cloris Leachman; a co-starring role in Keaton’s Cop, along with Lee Majors and Don Rickles; Joe Versus the Volcano, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan; Sugar Hill, starring Wesley Snipes; North, with Bruce Willis, Elijah Wood and Jason Alexander; Underworld, starring Denis Leary; and Just the Ticket, with Andy Garcia and Andie MacDowell.

Vigoda also appeared on the television series As the World Turns, Dark Shadows, Mannix, The Rookies, Hawaii Five-O, Kojak, The Bionic Woman, The Rockford Files, The Love Boat, Eight Is Enough, Fantasy Island, Santa Barbara, MacGyver, Diagnosis Murder, Law & Order, Weird Science, Wings, Touched by an Angel and Mad About You. And he had roles in the telefilms The Devil’s Daughter, starring Shelley Winters; Having Babies and How to Pick Up Girls, both starring Desi Arnaz, Jr.; and Witness to the Mob, with Nicholas Turturro, Tom Sizemore and Debi Mazar.

Vigoda got his start in television in 1949, on an episode of the series Suspense. He later appeared on Broadway, in a handful of roles including parts in Robert Shaw’s The Man in the Glass Booth and the comedy Tough to Get Help.

Vigoda died January 26, 2016, in Woodland Park, New Jersey. He was 94.