55th Annual New York Emmy Awards Gala - ArrivalsAbe Vigoda, a veteran character actor best known for roles in "The Godfather" and sitcom "Barney Miller," has died. He was 94.

Vigoda, who passed away in New Jersey of natural causes, became known for his signature hangdog appearance, and was the repeated target of death hoaxes frequently touting his demise. That odd occurrence became a running joke throughout the latter half of his career.

The then-middle-aged actor was all but unknown when he landed the role of Tessio in 1972's "The Godfather," a part he reprised as part of a flashback in "The Godfather Part II" in 1974. He went on to appear in film such as "The Don Is Dead," "Newman's Law," "The Cheap Detective," "Joe Versus the Volcano," and "Jury Duty."

But television took up much of the rest of Vigoda's career, where he shone as always-on-the-verge-of-retiring Detective Phil Fish on beloved comedy series "Barney Miller." The character was so popular that he launched his own spinoff, "Fish," in 1977, and Vigoda appeared on both shows for a time. He later had guest-starring roles on series including "Hawaii Five-O," "Kojak," "The Bionic Woman," "The Rockford Files," "Eight Is Enough," "MacGyver," "Murder, She Wrote," "Law and Order," "Wings," and "As the World Turns."

Vigoda was predeceased by his wife, Beatrice, who died in 1992. He is survived by a daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs.

[via: Variety]

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