Lucille Ball, George Burns, Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, Tony Randall, Don Knotts, Estelle Getty, Richard Attenborough, Walter Cronkite, Mickey Rooney, Lauren Bacall, Christopher Lee… they all have one thing in common: they’re dead. Meanwhile, somewhere in New Jersey, Abe Vigoda doggedly continues his tireless living streak.
“I am tired,” Vigoda retorts, “and my feet hurt and my back is sore and these hemorrhoids are killing me, but I’ve got things to do today. Breathing, mainly.”
Best known for his roles as mobster Salvatore Tessio in The Godfather and Detective Sergeant Phil Fish on Barney Miller, Vigoda is mostly famous these days for not being dead.
“Still being alive is one of the few reasons I have left to live,” he confesses. “I don’t get many calls for work anymore. My agent might have passed away. I should check.”
To pass the time, he still keeps in touch with many of the remaining actors of his generation—mostly the women, of which there are a lot.
“I called Maureen O’Hara. She seems fine. And Carol Channing is still funny. That voice! Zsa Zsa Gabor: it’s such a shame what she’s going through. But Betty White—my God, who knew she had such a mouth on her?”
With his male peers, things are more strained.
“I gave up talking to Kirk Douglas. It’s going on 60 years now with that whole ‘I’m Spartacus!’ thing. I just can’t listen anymore.”
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