“Tell Mike it was only business,” he says to Hagen resignedly. “I always liked him.”
Tessio makes a final plea.
“Tom, can you get me off the hook? For old times’ sake?”
Hagen shakes his head; the code must be honored.
“Can’t do it, Sally.”
But why Tessio?
Shortly before his death, Michael's father warned him, "Whoever comes to you with this Barzini meeting -- he's the traitor."
Later, at the Godfather's funeral, Tessio sets up the meeting between Michael and Barzini.
Tom Hagen is surprised. "I always thought it woulda been Clemenza, not Tessio."
But Michael knows better. (That's why he's the new godfather.) "It's the smart move; Tessio was always smarter."
Ironically, Vigoda wasn't even Italian:
“I’m really not a Mafia person,” Mr. Vigoda, who was of Russian-Jewish descent, told Vanity Fair magazine in 2009. “I’m an actor who spent his life in the theater. But Francis said, ‘I want to look at the Mafia not as thugs and gangsters but like royalty in Rome.’ And he saw something in me that fit Tessio as one would look at the classics in Rome.”