Actor Abe Vigoda, best known for his role as Tessio in “The Godfather,” died Tuesday at the age of 94. The actor's daughter confirmed that he passed away at her home in Woodland Park, New Jersey.
Vigoda had an active career, working right up until 2014 when he lent his voice to the animated fox comedy “High School USA!” But despite his lengthy time in Hollywood, Vigoda has been the subject of death hoaxes dating all the way back to 1982.
How and why did Abe Vigoda’s death get falsely reported for over 30 years?
According to CNN, Vigoda was working on a play in Calgary, Alberta, in 1982 when a reporter for People magazine went to the wrap party for the hit TV series he was starring in at the time, “Barney Miller.” Since the event was held in Los Angeles, Vigoda was unable to attend. The reporter wrote an article about “Barney Miller” for the magazine and accidentally referred to the actor as “late” – as in dead.
“Somehow it mentioned in the article that ‘the late Abe Vigoda’ was not [there],” Vigoda recalled the first death hoax to CNN in 2008.
His “death” became a long-running joke after that. And he even joined in on the fun! Following People magazine’s flub, Vigoda took out a full-page ad in Variety magazine. The Los Angeles Times reports that the advertisement featured him posing with the magazine while in a coffin. Over the years he even made appearances on late-night talk shows to joke about his “alive or dead” status. But while Vigoda was able to have fun with the death hoax, it also reportedly cost him “a lot of work.”
With so many death hoaxes surrounding Vigoda, someone created a website in 2001 called abevigoda.com. The website was designed with one purpose – to inform visitors if the actor was alive or dead. On Tuesday it was updated to confirm his death.
— dwight silverman (@dsilverman) January 26, 2016