Born: 24 February 1921
Birthplace: New York, New York
Best known as: Detective Fish on TV's Barney Miller
With hangdog face and rumpled suits, actor Abe Vigoda was a hit as Detective Sgt. Phil Fish on the 1970's TV sitcom Barney Miller. The show featured a ragtag band of New York City cops, with Vigoda as the comically world-weary grouch. Vigoda starred on the show from 1975-77, then left to star in the spinoff show Fish (1977-78). Vigoda wasn't always a specialist in curmudgeonly comedy -- his best-known film role is that of the treacherous Tessio in Francis Ford Coppola's film The Godfather (1972, with Marlon Brando). Vigoda's fame was renewed when he made frequent guest appearances on Conan O'Brien's Late Night show in the 1990s. He also earned a measure of ironic fame for persistent, and eventually humorous, rumors of his death, sparked by an erroneous People magazine story from the 1980s.
Extra credit: Vigoda starred with Betty White in a funny and much-discussed Snickers candy commercial during the 2010 Super Bowl.
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