Remembering Abe Vigoda
The actor Abe Vigoda passed away today at the age of 94. For quite a few years, there's been an odd bit of pop culture with people tracking whether or not Abe Vigoda was still alive. That's why it was sort of odd, but amusing to do a web search today and find a listing on Google referencing the news, but making it clear that, no, really, he actually was dead.
Seriously. Here --
What's odd too about this is that they felt obligated to say that when someone who died at the age of 94, it wasn't a hoax.
Vigoda was best known for playing 'Detective Fish' on the series Barney Miller -- and its spin-off series, Fish, as well as co-starring in The Godfather as Tessio. But I actually worked with the fellow in one of his lesser-known films, Jury Duty. This came in my wayward days as a publicist. Alas, I don't have many stories about him. Probably more accurate is no stories. He only shot on the movie a few days, and I wasn't hired for the full production, but only was on-set for a couple of weeks. So, I think we overlapped on one day, maybe two. I do recall watching him work (it was on the steps outside the courthouse), which was a treat -- he played a judge -- and my memory is that I did stop by to say hello. He was fairly taciturn, but quite polite.
Okay, you may not have heard of Jury Duty, but here's proof. (Sort of.)
The movie starred Pauly Shore, and while it wasn't an epic, I think it was reasonably okay for a Pauly Shore movie. And he was pleasant to deal with. As I recall, he played a slacker (shocking, yes I know) who is put on a jury which gets sequestered in an incredibly elegant, luxury hotel (because that's how sequestering works), so he does whatever he can to keep the trial going as long as possible, so that he can keep getting the $5 a day and nice lodgings. It had a respectable cast, with Tia Carrere, Stanley Tucci (who I remember having some nice, thoughtful conversations with), Shelley Winters (as Shore's mother), Brian Doyle-Murray, and of course Abe Vigoda.
(By the way, the movie was directed by John Fortenberry, who directed the first two episodes of the current second season of Galavant, which I wrote about at length.)
Here's the trailer. You'll even get to see some of the courthouse steps scene. And proof that Abe Vigoda was in it!
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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