Character actor Alex Rocco, who was perhaps best known for playing Moe Greene in The Godfather, has died, his son Sean Doyle confirmed Sunday to EW. He was 79.
Rocco died Saturday at his home in Studio City, California, Doyle said. That evening, he added, the front fountains of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas were turned off for one minute in the actor’s honor. His daughter Jennifer also announced the news Sunday on Facebook.
Born Alexander Federico Petricone in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Rocco moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting, taking classes with Leonard Nimoy (who taught him how to drop his heavy Boston accent) before making his film debut with a small part in 1965’s Motorpsycho. His career really took off when he landed the role of Moe Greene, and in a 2012 interview with The AV Club, Rocco called The Godfather “my biggest ticket anywhere.”
After The Godfather, Rocco went on appear in television shows like Three for the Road, The George Carlin Show, Starsky and Hutch, and Murder, She Wrote, and he regularly appeared on The Facts of Life as the jailed father of Nancy McKeon’s character, Jo.
“I think I got the job playing Jo’s dad because my agent at the time had heard about it and told them I’d be perfect for it,” Rocco told EW. “And he was right: I had the same coloring and looks as Nancy McKeon, and she was a tough girl from Westbury, and I was a tough guy from Boston. It was easy to play. I mean, look at my wardrobe: I wore a leather jacket, an open shirt, and Nikes, I think. It wasn’t much of a stretch for me!”
Rocco also had an extensive career as a voice actor, appearing in A Bug’s Life and Family Guy, but his best-known animated role was as Roger Meyers Jr., the businessman on The Simpsons who was responsible for “Itchy and Scratchy.” He also won an Emmy in 1990 for his role on The Famous Teddy Z.
In recent years, Rocco appeared on Magic City on Starz, and earlier this year, he was in Episodes and Maron.