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Friday, January 29, 2016

Abe Vigoda

I have a meager DVD collection.  There are only two TV series, in their entirety in my stack.  One is Scrubs.  Barney Miller is the other.

By now, you know Abe Vigoda passed away earlier this week.  94.  For three years, he was Sgt. Phillip K. Fish in Barney's Miller squad room.

Barney Miller was an ensemble comedy, with several criminals entering and exiting every week.  It meant no one actor had a lot of lines.  Abe Vigoda made every word work, but it was more than that.  It was the walk, the expressions.  That face.  The delivery.

There is one scene that always comes to mind.  Vigoda's Fish was the "old cop," the one nearing retirement, the one with the old person medical issues.  In police work (and journalism), experience means a lot.  Most days, Fish was the smartest one in the room.  A woman brought in on prostitution charges was trying to make small talk with Fish.  She asks "How long have you been a cop?"  Fish, wanting to be left alone, snaps back "I was the first."  I've seen it a dozen times.  It never fails to make me laugh.

Vigoda left for a spin off series, and, unfortunately, it didn't work.  There were a few Barney Miller guest appearances in later years.  It was always a kick to see Fish walk through that door one more time.

Bloody dramas are not my thing, so I can't really write about Vigoda's Tessio character in Godfather I and II.  I've read the reviews in the obituaries and have seen the clips.  Excellent work.

Abe Vigoda made me laugh.  Thank you.