Alex Rocco Dies At 79: Actor’s Gravelly Voice Immortalized Many Characters

Actor Alex Rocco died this Saturday. He was 79 and suffering from cancer.

Rocco, who was immortalized by the dialogue: “You don’t buy me out. I buy you out” in The Godfather, died at his home on Saturday 18 July. His manager Susan Zachary confirmed the veteran actor was a longtime sufferer of cancer, but it is believed he died peacefully surrounded by family. No other details have yet been offered by his daughter Jennifer.

Alex Rocco became immensely famous after portraying Las Vegas casino owner Moe Greene in The Godfather. Though he had very little screen-time, he became an icon for his signature lines, including “You don’t buy me out. I buy you out” and “Do you know who I am?” directly to the face of Godfather-in-waiting, played by Al Pacino.

Alex Rocco's Gruff Voice Sure Sounded Menacing

Rocco studied acting with the legendary Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy, who also passed away this year. Incidentally, he worked as bartender in California to support his passion, reported MSN. His gravelly voice was quite imposing, and he frequently delivered dialogues with an authoritative, gruff, but crystal clear voice. The actor never swirled words, and perhaps the clarity was the most appealing aspect which rendered his dialogues unforgettable.

No wonder, The Simpsons featured Rocco as the voice of Roger Meyers Jr., the cigar-smoking, vile chairman of the studio behind the blood-and-gore cartoon “Itchy and Scratchy.” He also played Arthur Evans, the father of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character, on the stylish Starz series Magic City. Rocco went on to win an Emmy Award for his role as a larger-than-life old-school talent agent in Jon Cryer sitcom The Famous Teddy Z. He also famously portrayed the rough-edged father on the long-running NBC series The Facts of Life.

Speaking about his rather stereotypical roles, Alex Rocco had jokingly said during an interview with The A.V. Club in 2012,

“It always seems like if I’m not killing somebody, violently, I’m playing somebody’s dad.”

In the same interview Rocco described how it all began with a meeting with director Francis Ford Coppola about his role as Moe Greene in The Godfather:

“I’m Italian. I wouldn’t know how to play a Jew. [So] Mr. Coppola suggested hand gestures that could differentiate the two ethnic groups. Greatest piece of direction I ever got.”

Alex Rocco said his gruff and convincing tough-guy persona was born in the mean streets of Massachusetts where he worked for the local gangsters, reported The New York Times. It is apparent Rocco used his hard-gained knowledge to bring characters to life onscreen.

[Image Credit | Peter Kramer / Getty Images, Paramount Pictures]