Char­ac­ter ac­tor Alex Rocco, dies at 79

Fa­mous for mob­ster Moe Greene in ‘ The God­fa­ther’

Cape Breton Post - - IN MEMORIAM -

Alex Rocco, the Emmy-win­ning char­ac­ter ac­tor best known for tak­ing a bullet through the eye as the Las Ve­gas casino boss Moe Greene in “The God­fa­ther,’’ has died. He was 79.

Rocco’s daugh­ter, Jen­nifer, an­nounced his death Satur­day. De­tails were not im­me­di­ately avail­able.

Rocco’s ca­reer spanned five decades, and he re­mained ac­tive up un­til his death, in­clud­ing a re­cur­ring role on the Starz se­ries “Magic City.’’ His distinc­tively grav­elly voice made him a fre­quent tough-guy pres­ence in both hard­boiled tales (“The Friends of Ed­die Coyle,’’ ‘’St. Valen­tine’s Day Mas­sacre,” ‘’Get Shorty”) and comedic sit­coms (‘’ The Simp­sons,” ‘’ The Facts of Life”).

His most fa­mous role came in 1972’s “The God­fa­ther,’’ where he played the hum­bled casino owner who meets his fate on a mas­sage ta­ble, with a bullet through his thick eye­glass lenses. 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 movie’s many in­deli­ble scenes.

“With­out a doubt, my big­gest ticket any­where,’’ Rocco told the AV Club in 2012. “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.’’’

The Bos­ton-born Rocco also mem­o­rably voiced the cigarsmok­ing stu­dio head of “Itchy and Scratchy’’ on “The Simp­sons.’’ And he played Char­lie Pol­ni­aczek on the 1980s sit­com “The Facts of Life.’’

He won an Emmy for best sup­port­ing ac­tor in a com­edy se­ries in 1990 for the short-lived Jon Cryer sit­com “The Fa­mous Teddy Z.’’

Born on Feb. 29, 1936, as Alessan­dro Fed­erico Pet­ri­cone Jr. in Cam­bridge, Mass., Rocco stud­ied act­ing un­der Leonard Ni­moy on his ar­rival to Los An­ge­les. His first role was in a Russ Meyer film, 1965’s “Mo­tor Psy­cho.’’

Ni­moy helped rid Rocco of his thick Bos­ton ac­cent, and the ac­tor would for­ever af­ter find con­sis­tent work — from Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life’’ to “Fam­ily Guy’’ — for his sin­gu­lar voice.

Rocco is sur­vived by his wife, ac­tress Shan­non Wil­cox, his daugh­ter Jen­nifer, son Lu­cien and a grand­son.

AP PHOTO

Alex Rocco ar­rives at the pre­miere “Magic City” in Los An­ge­les. Rocco, the char­ac­ter ac­tor best known for play­ing the be­spec­ta­cled Las Ve­gas mob­ster Moe Greene in “The God­fa­ther,” has died, his daugh­ter an­nounced Satur­day, July 18, 2015.

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