Abe Vigoda, “Sal Valestra”, Passes Away


Abe Vigoda, known among Bat-fans as Sal Valestra from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, has passed away.

Actor Abe Vigoda, the voice of Sal Valestra in the Batman: Mask of the Phantasm film, passed away yesterday at the age of 94.  He died of old age in his sleep at his daughter’s house in Woodland Park, NJ, after stopping taking his medications and being on hospice care.  Vigoda is survived by his aforementioned daughter, three grandchildren, and a great-grandson.

Vigoda was best known to general audiences for his roles in The Godfather Parts I and II and the sitcoms Barney Miller and Fish.  In The Godfather films, he played gangster Salvatore Tessio, and he portrayed detective Phil Fish in the two sitcoms.  However, Bat-fans will remember him very fondly for a voice role he had back in 1993.  Vigoda played Sal Valestra, a character created uniquely for the film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm as the an aging powerful mob boss in Gotham City.  Valestra is a character who shows nerve not many others in Gotham have, hiring The Joker to take out Batman.  To this day, Mask of the Phantasm is the only Batman animated movie to get a theatrical release, and it’s considered by many (myself included) to be the best of all the Batman animated films.

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Several times dating all the way back to 1982, Vigoda has actually been mistakenly reported as having passed away.  He always took it in good spirit however, and even would make jokes about his status in TV appearances.  Sadly, this time his passing is legitimate as reported by his daughter to The Associated Press, and fans of all his many roles will miss him.  Relive Valestra’s meeting with The Joker from Mask of the Phantasm below:

h/t MSN