Alex Rocco was an Emmy-winning character actor best known for taking a bullet through the eye as the Las Vegas casino boss Moe Greene in The Godfather. His career spanned five decades, and he remained active until his death.
His distinctive gravelly voice made him a frequent tough-guy presence both in hardboiled tales (The Friends of Eddie Coyle, St Valentine’s Day Massacre, Get Shorty) and comedies like The Simpsons, in which he voiced the cigar-smoking studio head of The Itchy and Scratchy Show.
His most famous role came in The Godfather (1972), in which played the humbled casino owner who meets his fate on a massage table, with a bullet through his glasses. His confrontation with Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone – in which he condescended to the new boss: “I made my bones when you were going out with cheerleaders!” – was among the film’s many memorable scenes.
“Without a doubt, my biggest ticket anywhere,” he said. “I went for, I dunno, one of the Italian parts. Maybe the Richard Bright part. But Coppola goes, ‘I got my Jew!’ And I went, ‘Oh no, Mr Coppola, I’m Italian. I wouldn’t know how to play a Jew.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, shut up.’” He won an Emmy for best supporting actor in a comedy series in 1990 for the short-lived sitcom The Famous Teddy Z.
Rocco studied acting under Leonard Nimoy in Los Angeles. His first role was in Russ Meyer’s 1965 Motor Psycho; Nimoy helped rid him of his thick Boston accent, and he found consistent work – from A Bug’s Life to Family Guy – for his singular voice.
Alexander Federico Petricone (Alex Rocco), actor: born Boston 29 February 1936; married Shannon Wilcox (one daughter, one son); died 18 July 2015.Reuse content