Godfather Star Alex Rocco Dies at 79

Alex Rocco, Godfather Star, Dies at 79
Alex Rocco
Nick Ut/AP

07/19/2015 AT 02:15 PM EDT

Actor Alex Rocco, perhaps best known for his role as Moe Greene in The Godfather, died Saturday, his daughter announced on Facebook. He was 79.

"I will see you but not for a while...." daughter Jennifer wrote in the announcement.

Rocco made his film debut in 1965's Motorpsycho!, beginning a career that would last for more than 50 years. He has at least one more film in post-production, according to IMDB, for which he gave his final interview, according to his daughter. He also recently appeared in both Maron and Episodes.

Massachusetts-born as Alexander Federico Petricone, Rocco studied acting with Leonard Nimoy, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Rocco was a character actor who often appeared on screen as a tough guy – or tough creature, as when he voiced "Thorny" in Pixar's A Bug's Life.

"That was my greatest prize ever in life, because I did about eight lines as an ant, and I think I made over a million dollars,” he said in a 2012 interview with the A/V Club.

During his career, Rocco also voiced Simpsons studio head Roger Meyers Jr., earned a 1990 Emmy as a talent agent on The Famous Teddy Z, and played Jeffrey Dean Morgan's father on Starz's mob series Magic City.

But it was as Greene in Francis Ford Coppola's iconic 1972 film that he is most remembered – "without a doubt, my biggest ticket anywhere. I mean that literally," he told the A/V Club.

In his audition, Rocco said, "I went for ... I dunno, one of the Italian parts. Maybe the Richard Bright part [Al Neri]. 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.' [Laughs.] He says, 'The Italians do this,' and he punches his fingers up. 'And the Jews do this,' and his hand's extended, the palm flat. Greatest piece of direction I ever got. I've been playing Jews ever since."

Decades later, and people never forgot that role.

"People on the golf course will say, 'Hey, Alex, would you call my dad and leave a line from The Godfather?' I say, 'Okay, "I buy you out, you don't buy me out!" "He was bangin' cocktail waitresses two at a time …" "Don't you know who I am?" ' [Laughs.] But I enjoy doing it," Rocco told the A/V Club. "It's fun. I've been leaving Moe Greene messages for 40 years."

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