- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 19, 2015

Alex Rocco, who portrayed the doomed Las Vegas casino owner Moe Greene in the original “Godfather” film in 1972, died Saturday, reported Time. He was 79. Mr. Rocco’s daughter, Jennifer, noted his passing on the actor’s official Facebook page without relating a cause of death.

Born Alexander Federico Petricone Jr., Mr. Rocco, a native of Massachusetts, had over 160 credits to his acting resume, as per his entry on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

In the 1970s, he appeared on such TV staples as “Kojak,” “The Rockford Files” and “Starsky and Hutch,” but it was as the corrupt Sin City mobster in Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic film where Mr. Rocco made his name. In the small but crucial role of Moe Greene, Mr. Rocco shared several scenes with Al Pacino as up-and-coming crime patriarch Michael Corleone. When Michael’s brother Fredo (John Cazale) attempts to get Michael to see things from Moe’s point of view, Michael famous retorts, “Don’t ever take sides against the family, Fredo. Ever.”

In the film’s famous “murder montage,” which cuts back and forth between the baptism of Michael’s son Anthony with his agents dispatching the heads of New York’s Five Families as well as Michael’s other rivals, Moe Greene infamously meets his end while lying on a massage table. Looking up at the sound of someone entering the parlor, a gunshot is heard, and the right lens of his eyeglasses abruptly fills with blood — a gruesome on-screen death for the time.

According to Time, upon moving to Los Angeles in the 1960s, Mr. Rocco studied acting under Leonard Nimoy, aka Mr. Spock from the “Star Trek” TV show. He took small parts on shows including “Batman” and in films before hitting the public consciousness thanks to Mr. Coppola’s casting him in “The Godfather,” the film that made stars of Mr. Pacino and Robert Duvall.

Mr. Rocco’s 1980s output was largely in series like “The Golden Girls” and “The A-Team,” as well as made-for-TV films and second-rate big-screen projects like “Cannonball Run II.” He also had a recurring role on “Star Trek” alum William Shatner’s crime procedural, “T.J. Hooker,” and on “The Facts of Life.”

In the 1990s, he earned an entirely new generation of fans thanks to his voicing of Roger Meyers Jr., the surly animation studio head, on “The Simpsons.” The Meyers character gloried in insulting the writers of “The Itchy and Scratchy Show” (when one asked whether he was fired for claiming Meyers was perhaps unintelligent, the studio boss replied simply, “Oh yes”) and in cynically exploiting a generation of desensitized children by peddling them the overly violent “Itchy and Scratchy,” a satire on the old “Tom and Jerry” cartoons in which the titular cat and mouse find ever more gruesome ways to destroy each other.

Mr. Rocco continued finding work on television throughout the remaining years of his life. IMDb lists to his credit two yet-to-be released films, “Silver Skies” and “The Other.”

Mr. Rocco was married twice, according to IMDb. His first wife, Sandie Elaine Garrett, with whom he had three children, died of cancer in 2002. In 2005, he married actress Shannon Wilcox. This October would have been their 10th wedding anniversary. His son, Marc Rocco, is a writer and director, having helmed the 1994 Alcatraz prison drama “Murder in the First.”

Mr. Rocco remained grateful to the end for the boost that “The Godfather” gave his career as an actor. In a 2012 interview with the A.V. Club, he declared, “Every time I ever hear the theme from ‘The Godfather,’ I always say, ‘Thank you, God.’”

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