Known for his sad, sunken-eyed grimace that somehow had the opposite effect upon his legions of fans, Abe Vigoda, the film and television legend, died Tuesday.
He was 94.
Abraham Charles “Abe” Vigoda became forever seared into the hearts and minds of countless fans with his portrayal of Salvatore Tessio, the Corleone Family’s most trusted capo in director Francis Ford Coppola classic The Godfather, which had several scenes filmed on Long Island. (Coppola is also a 1960 alumnus of Hofstra University, where he studied drama.)
Vigoda is also well-known for his role as Det. Sgt. Phil Fish on the ’70s television sitcom series Barney Miller.
Though false reports of his death more than three decades ago sparked years of Internet speculation as to his mortality, Vigoda’s daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, confirmed to the Associated Press Tuesday that her father had passed away in his sleep at her Woodland Park, NJ, home of old age.
That news didn’t stop jokesters from continuing the gag on Twitter, however, where an account under the actor’s name @abevigoda declared Tuesday afternoon: “I was alive and now I’m not:(” and another titled Abe Vigoda Status offering “daily check-ins on whether Abe is alive or not,” tweeted “Still alive” before simply stating, “Dead,” amid dozens of heartfelt messages from well-wishers.
Admirers ranging from friends and fellow celebrities to television fans took to the social media site and many others to pay homage throughout the day.
“#AbeVigoda is gone. What a life. What a career. What a warm & funny man he was. His performance in ‘Godfather’ still amazes me,” tweeted talk show host Larry King.
“Rest in peace Abe Vigoda. 94 years young. January is shaping up to be a very sad month,” shared fellow actor Rick Moranis.