Character actor Abe Vigoda, who played the dilapidated Detective Phil Fish in the 1970s series Barney Miller and a short-lived spinoff and mafia soldier Sal Tessio in the first two Godfather films, has died. He was 94. Vigoda’S daughter tells The Associated Press that he died Tuesday in his sleep at his New Jersey home.
Vigoda began acting in New York theater and with small roles in television. The turning point in his career came in 1972 when Francis Ford Coppola cast him as Vito Corleone’s old friend-turned-traitor Sal Tessio in the Oscar-winning film The Godfather. He also appeared briefly in The Godfather Part II in a flashback sequence at the end of the film.
Vigoda went on to play the dilapidated Detective Sgt. Phil Fish on the 1975-82 sitcom Barney Miller, a character known for his world-weary demeanor and persistent hemorrhoids. He also starred in its spinoff show Fish that aired from February 1977 to June 1978 on ABC. He continued on both shows briefly, before Fish “retired” from Barney Miller in September 1977. Before those series, he made a few appearances on the ABC soap Dark Shadows as Ezra Braithwaite and Otis Greene
Vigoda continued to work consistently in the ’80s and ’90s, with roles on Mike Hammer, Tales From The Darkside, MacGyver, Murder, She Wrote, Law & Order, Wings and soaps As the World Turns and Santa Barbara. He also played gangster Paul Castellano in NBC’s Witness To The Mob.
His most recent credit was 2014 in feature Sweet Destiny. His other films include Joe vs. The Volcano, North and Sugar Hill, among many others.
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