BY SHAMAN MOMOH
Abe Vigoda, who played a Mafia soldier Tessio in The Godfather, has died aged 94. According to his family, the actor died peacefully in his sleep.
He played Sal Tessio, an old friend of Marlon Brando‘s Don Corleone, who plotted to take over the family after Corleone’s death by killing his son, Michael.
As the movie world mourns Vigoda, here are 7 things you didn’t know about him.
- Before the Godfather films, Vigoda had worked in relative obscurity in TV and on the New York theatre circuit.
- Towards the end of his life, he often appeared on lists of living celebrities believed to have died and he played along with the hoaxes on TV chat show appearances.
- Vigoda was married twice – first to Sonja Gohlke, then to Beatrice Schy who died in 1992 – and is survived by a daughter from his first marriage, two grandchildren and a great-grandson.
- After the success of The Godfather in 1972, Vigoda was back to Broadway in Carl Reiner’s staging of “Tough to Get Help,” co-starring with future “Good Times” patriarch John Amos.
- The name “Vigoda” in Russian (“Bыгода”) means benefit/advantage/profit/gain.
- He gained further fame playing Detective Sgt. Phil Fish on the comedy, Barney Miller. The character was loved for his world-weary demeanor.
- Vigoda enjoyed playing handball, and stated in an interview that he was “almost” a champion at the game in his youth.