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,” died July 18 in Los Angeles. He was 79.
Mr. Rocco’s daughter, Jennifer, announced the death. The cause was cancer, his manager told the New York Times.
Mr. Rocco’s career spanned five decades. He remained active in recent years, including a recurring role on the Starz series “Magic City.” His distinctive gravelly voice made him a frequent tough-guy presence in hard-boiled tales (“The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” “The 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,” in which he played the humbled casino owner who meets his fate on a massage table, with a bullet through a thick eyeglass lense. 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,” Mr. Rocco told the A.V. 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.’ ”
He also memorably voiced the cigar-smoking studio head of “Itchy and Scratchy” on “The Simpsons.” And he played Charlie Polniaczek — father of Nancy McKeon’s character — 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.”
Alessandro Federico Petricone Jr. was born in Cambridge, Mass., on Feb. 29, 1936. He studied acting under Leonard Nimoy on his arrival in Los Angeles. His first role was in a Russ Meyer film “Motorpsycho!” (1965).
Nimoy, who grew up in Boston, helped rid Mr. Rocco of his thick Massachusetts accent, and the actor would find consistent work — from Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life” to “Family Guy” — for his singular voice.
His first wife, Sandie Garrett, died in 2002. Three years later, he married actress Shannon Wilcox, who survives him, along with two children from his first marriage; a stepdaughter; a sister; and four grandchildren, the Times reported. A son from his first marriage, director Marc Rocco, died in 2009.