Remembering Abe Vigoda 1921-2016

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Abe Vigoda as Salvatore Tessio in 1972's The Godfather

Abe Vigoda as Salvatore Tessio in 1972’s The Godfather

After years of Internet and even pre-Internet hoaxes about his death,  Abe Vigoda did, indeed, die on January 26, 2016 of natural causes. The veteran actor, best known for his roles in The Godfather and TV’s Barney Miller was 94.

In its obit, the New York Daily News described Vigoda’s looks to a T: “the dour-faced, slouch-shouldered New York born actor who always looked like he had one foot in the grave.”

On the die he died, traffic to the goofy (but now largely defunct) website was “blowing up.” Rumors of Vigoda’s demise started in the pre-Internet ’80s and People even ran a tribute to the actor when they fell for the ruse.

In our Classic Video from The Godfather, Vigoda’s Tessio initially thinks he’s going for a ride. But – no need for a Spoiler Alert for a movie you’ve seen 114 times – he suddenly realizes that his treachery has been discovered. Michael is in the process of settling all debts. Tessio to Robert Duvall’s Tom Hagen: “Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him. Tom, can you get me off the hook…  for old time’s sake?” Hagen: “Can’t do it, Sal…”

The amazing thing is Vigoda looks like he’s at least 60 in this scene. But since he was born on February 24, 1921, and the film was shot in 1971, it makes him only 50 when he filmed his role.

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As a Classic Video bonus, here’s the Snickers Super Bowl XLIV TV commercial that featured the equally ageless Betty White and Vigoda. They were both 88 at the time.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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