Actor Abe Vigoda died Tuesday morning peacefully in his sleep while staying at his daughter’s Woodland Park, N.J, home.

After starting out as Sgt. Phil Fish on Barney Miller, Vigoda made his way to the big screen as gangster Tessio in The Godfather. 

The late actor was constantly battling death hoax rumors since the 1980s when a producer declared “I need an Abe Vigoda type actor,” not realizing the man was still alive. But it was actually a People magazine piece in 1982 that referred to the “late” Abe Vigoda that got the rumor going.

Vigoda found humor in the situation and even posed with a copy of the magazine inside a coffin. “I’m 74 years old, but I feel more like 44,” Vigoda said in 1995. “My doctor says I have the body of a man of 40.”

Vigoda continued making appearances on TV, including several on the Today show, where Matt Lauer called him “our favorite guest of all time.”

Six years ago, Vigoda and Betty White appeared in a wildly successful Snickers candy bar commercial that aired during the Super Bowl that poked fun at their ages. Both actors were 88 at the time of air.

The actor was born on February 24, 1921 and was the oldest of three. Vigoda was married twice. He had his daughter Carol with his first wife, Sonja Gohlke. His second wife, Beatrice Schy, died in 1992.

 

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