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Alex Rocco starred as a casino owner in 'The Godfather'

Rocco starred as the 'Godfather' character Moe Green and also appeared in the film 'Get Shorty' as well as on 'The Simpsons' and the Starz series 'Magic City.' Rocco called his 'Godfather' role 'without a doubt, my biggest ticket anywhere.'

Nick Ut/AP
Alex Rocco holds up his Emmy award for best supporting actor in a television comedy series for his role in 'The Famous Teddy Z' in 1990.

Alex Rocco, the Emmy-winning character actor best known for playing the Las Vegas casino boss Moe Greene in "The Godfather," has died. He was 79.

Rocco's career spanned five decades, and he remained active up until his death, including a recurring role on the Starz series "Magic City." His distinctively gravelly voice made him a frequent tough-guy presence in both hardboiled tales ("The Friends of Eddie Coyle," ''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," where he played a humbled casino owner. 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," Rocco told the AV Club of the role in 2012. 

The Boston-born Rocco also memorably voiced the studio head of "Itchy and Scratchy" on "The Simpsons." And he played Charlie Polniaczek 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."

Born on Feb. 29, 1936, as Alessandro Federico Petricone Jr. in Cambridge, Mass., Rocco studied acting under Leonard Nimoy on his arrival to Los Angeles. His first role was in a Russ Meyer film, 1965's "Motor Psycho."

Nimoy helped rid Rocco of his thick Boston accent, and the actor would forever after find consistent work — from Pixar's "A Bug's Life" to "Family Guy" — for his singular voice.

Rocco is survived by his wife, actress Shannon Wilcox, his daughter Jennifer, son Lucien, and a grandson.

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