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Abe Vigoda

As with Mark Twain, most of the reports of Abe Vigoda's death were greatly exaggerated, starting with a People Magazine story in 1982 that referred to him as "the late Abe Vigoda." On Jan. 26, alas, the report of Vigoda's death was true. Tall and lanky with the face of a dyspeptic bloodhound, Vigoda had two claims to fame as an actor: as Sal Tessio, the treacherous Corleone family underboss in "The Godfather," and as Phil Fish, the perpetually disenchanted member of Barney Miller's detective squad. Unfortunately, his "Barney Miller" spinoff series, "Fish," was a flop, and many of his credits on the Internet Movie Database consist of things such as "Death Car on the Freeway." But he was always a welcome presence, as his many self-deprecating appearances on David Letterman and Conan O'Brien's shows demonstrated. He had impeccable comic timing, and he could take a joke. It was always a joy to see him, and it is sad that we shall see him no more.

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