As per the NYT obit, Abe Vigoda, the sad-faced actor who emerged from a workmanlike stage career to find belated fame in the 1970s as the earnest mobster Tessio in “The Godfather” and the dyspeptic Detective Phil Fish on the hit sitcom “Barney Miller,” died on Tuesday morning (January 26) in Woodland Park, N.J. He was 94, having outlived by about 34 years an erroneous report of his death that made him a cult figure.
Although I knew his role in the “The Godfather,” I grew up watching “Barney Miller” and the curmudgeonly character simply referred to as “Fish”
In 1982, People magazine erroneously reported that Vigoda had died. To show that he was very much alive, he posed for a photo showing him sitting up in a coffin and holding a copy of the issue.
The announcement of his demise became a running joke throughout the entertainment industry as talk show hosts would regularly book him as “proof of life” and inspire the website www.isabevigodadead.com.
Although I had no idea who ran the site, I knew he/she would never confirm false info. From time-to-time, I would check on Abe and was always relieved to see “NO” as the answer.
The last time I checked was on Sunday, January 24th via Twitter:
Just checking. https://t.co/dGWBCHZte9
— Terry Moseley (@NewsMaven) January 24, 2016
I was in a meeting when my phone started to ping and buzz as my colleagues and friends told me that Abe had died.
Quickly, I checked the www.isabevigodadead.com and for the first and final time, it read “YES”
Abe Vigoda, February 24, 1921 – January 26, 2016