Famously long rumored to be dead, beloved character actor Abe Vigoda died for real in January at age 94. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t seem to notice.
In any case, it omitted Vigoda from the “In Memoriam” package on Sunday’s Oscarcast, prompting a hue and cry from his daughter, fans, fellow actors and cinephiles on social media.
“Abe’s family feels disappointed and cheated by the Academy,” said Carol Vigoda Fuchs on Monday. “Abe gave his life and heart to acting, and a simple tribute in recognition of his devotion was overlooked.”
Vigoda, of course, was unforgettable in “The Godfather” for his performance as Salvatore “Sal” Tessio, the doomed Mafia soldier.
So Fuchs wonders why the Academy forgot him, even as it paid tribute to Alex Rocco, seen in the same 1972 film as Las Vegas casino owner Moe Green. Rocco, who died last July at age 79, was among the four dozen industry figures honored in the segment.
Although Tessio is likely Vigoda’s best-known role, his stardom wasn’t limited to “The Godfather.” He also played detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV comedy “Barney Miller” and its spinoff, “Fish.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Vigoda’s omission revived memories of the long-running misunderstanding that dogged the latter part of the actor’s career: confusion over whether he had, in fact, really died.
Those mix-ups started in 1982, when People magazine prematurely interred the actor by prefacing his name with the phrase “the late.”
On Sunday night, fans were hoping for that final, traditional closure when the Oscar ceremony put aside the glitz and unfurled the mournful portion of the evening.
The omission seemed perplexing because other entertainers who likewise died in the early part of 2016, like actor Alan Rickman and iconic musician and sometimes actor David Bowie, were featured.