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Abe Vigoda had some of the most iconic lines and moments in what critics maintain is one the the greatest films ever made: The Godfather.
Playing Salvatore Tessio, Vigoda landed the memorable, double-crossing character by going to an open casting call, director Francis Ford Coppola said on the DVD commentary.
Vigoda died at 94 on Tuesday. Below are some of Tessio’s more memorable moments in the Oscar-winning mob classic:
Hiding the gun:
Tessio suggested hiding the gun Michael would use to kill Sollozzo and Capt. McCluskey behind the old-fashioned, pull-chain toilet at the Italian restaurant. “It’s perfect for us.” His knowledge helps set up one of the great scenes in the film.
Michael is warned by his father that there is a traitor in the family and that person will reveal their identify when they come to him for a meeting with the other heads of the mob families. Tessio turns out to be the traitor, coming to Michael with the meeting suggestion during the Don’s funeral. “Tessio was always smarter.”
Tessio thinks everything is going as he planned for the double-cross of Michael, but he gets a surprise. Tessio makes sure to say being a traitor was only business, nothing personal. He then asks to be let “off the hook.” Tom Hagen, played by Robert Duvall, coldly replies no.
After learning of his passing on Tuesday, Duvall said: “It was great working with Abe in The Godfather and wonderful to have him among us. We had some great memories together and he will really be missed.”
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