This time, it’s really happened. Abe Vigoda, the actor whose best known roles are that of Detective Phil Fish in the TV series Barney Miller and Tessio in the movie The Godfather, passed away in his sleep Tuesday morning. Vigoda was also famous for numerous untimely reports of his death.
Mr. Vigoda’s days as a television star seemed to be behind him in 1982 when People magazine reported that he had died. Mr. Vigoda responded by placing an ad in Variety with a photo showing him sitting up in a coffin and holding a copy of the offending issue of the magazine.
His “death” became a running joke. “I have nothing to say about Abe,” Billy Crystal said at a roast of Rob Reiner at the Friars Club, where Mr. Vigoda was a regular. “I was always taught to speak well of the dead.”