Abraham "Abe" Vigoda, the American character actor best known for playing Salvatore Tessio in The Godfather, has died. He was 94. His daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, told the Associated Press that he died in his sleep.
Vigoda, known for his world-weary appearance and gruff voice, found success in acting late in life, working in relative obscurity until he was cast in The Godfather in 1972. However, his presence in the iconic film earned him enough recognition to continue getting roles in television, theater, and movies throughout the rest of his career. One of his most notable roles (if not his recurring spot on Late Night with Conan O'Brien) was his turn as Sgt. Philip K. Fish on the '70s police sitcom Barney Miller.
Of course, Vigoda was well-known for being the subject of death hoaxes late in his life, dating all the way back to the early 1980s. So pervasive was the meme that isabevigodadead.com was created to clear up any doubt about his being alive. However, despite his age, the actor seemed proud of having found his calling.
"Success can come at any age."
"When I was a young man," he said in an interview, "I was told success had to come in my youth. I found this to be a myth. My experiences have taught me that if you deeply believe in what you are doing, success can come at any age."
Vigoda is survived by his daughter Carol, his grandchildren Jamie, Steven, and Paul, and a great-grandchild.