Alex Rocco (born February 29, 1936) is an American actor best known for his role as Moe Greene in The Godfather. Rocco has often portrayed gangsters in his film work and was a former mob associate and member of the Winter Hill Gang in Boston.
Born Alexander Federico Petricone, Jr. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Rocco was raised in Somerville, the son of Mary (née Di Biase) and Alessandro Sam Petricone.
According to organized crime turncoat Vincent Teresa, Alex was a hanger-on with the Winter Hill Gang of the Boston area. An unwanted advance toward Petricone's then girlfriend on Labor Day, 1961 touched off the Boston Irish Gang War of the 1960s. George McLaughlin who made the advance was beaten by Winter Hill Gang members. Howie Carr, a Boston-area journalist and radio personality who has written extensively about the Boston underworld, has written that the young Petricone (whose nickname was "Bobo") was arrested in Charlestown in November 1961 along with Winter Hill boss Buddy McLean for questioning following the death of Bernard McLaughlin of the McLaughlin gang, the first murder of the war. Petricone was released without charge, and shortly thereafter left the Boston area.
Move to California Edit
After his arrest, Petricone moved to California in 1962 and began using the name Alex Rocco. He first worked as a bartender in Santa Monica, California and took acting lessons from actor Leonard Nimoy, a fellow Boston native. Nimoy was not impressed with Rocco's heavy Boston accent and told him to take speech lessons. Rocco followed through with Nimoy's instructions and after ridding himself of the accent came back to study under Nimoy and character actor and teacher Jeff Corey.
Rocco went on to play the part of Moe Greene, a Las Vegas casino owner, in the film The Godfather. Greene's character represented the top Jewish mobster in the United States.
When he returned to the Boston area in 1972 to play a bank robber in the film The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Petricone—now styled "Alex Rocco"—set up a meeting between Robert Mitchum and local Irish-American gangsters, including John Martorano and Howie Winter, to help Mitchum research his part as Eddie Coyle, a low-level Irish-American criminal. Ironically, Martorano had murdered Billy O'Brien, a low-level gangster who may have been the prototype of the Eddie Coyle character.
In the fall of 1975, Rocco starred in the role of Pete Karras, a widowed father, writer, and photographer, in a 12-week CBS drama series Three for the Road, with Vincent Van Patten as his older son, John Karras, and Leif Garrett as his younger son, Endy Karras. After the death of their wife and mother, the Karrases sell their house, buy a recreational vehicle, and roam throughout the United States. In 1977 he played the role of Ben Sylver in an episode called "Lou's Army Reunion" from the successful TV series "Mary Tyler Moore Show".
Later Years and Present Edit
Rocco played Charlie Polniaczek, Jo's father on The Facts of Life. From 1989 to 1990, Rocco was a regular on the television comedy series The Famous Teddy Z in which he played "Al Floss", a slick cheesy Hollywood talent agent and foil to Jon Cryer in the title role, an ex-mailroom clerk turned superagent. Rocco received an Emmy Award as Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for this role.
In 1997, he appeared (along with Rodney Dangerfield) in the annual Thanksgiving episode of the ABC sitcom Home Improvement.
Rocco also has a recurring part in the long running animated series The Simpsons as the head of Itchy and Scratchy Studios, Roger Meyers, Jr.. In DVD commentaries, Rocco has expressed true gratitude to The Simpsons' staff for allowing him his first voice-over role. He parlayed that into an episode of Family Guy (in the episode "Mind Over Murder", in which he had the memorable role of 'the masculine woman'.
In 2008, he starred in Audi's Super Bowl commercial for the Audi R8 supercar. The commercial was inspired by one of the films Rocco was in: The Godfather. He portrays a rich man who finds the front fascia of his luxury car in his bed, a nod to the scene from the original movie in which Jack Woltz, a rich movie producer, finds the head of his prized racehorse in his bed.
In Fallout: New Vegas he voices Big Sal, one of the bosses of the Gomorrah casino's ruling family, the "Omertas." Other notable movies in which Rocco has appeared include The Wedding Planner, as Salvatore and appeared uncredited in Smokin' Aces. He also played a small part in the Disney/Pixar film, A Bug's Life as Thorny. In the film That Thing You Do!, Rocco played Sol Siler, the founder of Playtone Records.
Rocco currently is one of the stars of the Starz cable channel's crime-drama series, Magic City.
Personal life Edit
After moving to Los Angeles, Rocco became a member of the Bahá'í Faith. He married Sandra Elaine Rocco (September 1, 1942–June 12, 2002) on March 24, 1964. He adopted her son, director Marc Rocco (June 19, 1962–May 1, 2009). They had a daughter Jennifer, lawyer, producer, writer, son Lucien, and a grandson Anthony Dominic Rocco, mother Jennifer. Sandra died of cancer, aged 59. Rocco remarried after losing his wife of over 40 years of marriage to cancer.