JULY 18TH, 2015
LAS VEGAS dimmed the lights Saturday Night. Alex Rocco, best known for playing ‘Moe Greene’ in “The Godfather”, died at his home in Studio City, at 79. The Emmy winner’s most recent projects have been “Magic City” for Starz and “Episodes” for Showtime. At 9 pm tonight the nostalgic front fountains of Caesar's Palace will be turned off for a minute for our beloved BoBo. He is survived by his wife Shannon Wilcox, his sister Vivian De Simone, his children: Lucien Rocco, Jennifer Rocco, Kelli Williams and Sean Doyle, and his grandchildren: Anthony Rocco, Kiran Sahgal, Sarame Sahgal and Ravi Sahgal.
MADE IN HOLLYWOOD by Sean Doyle & Shannon Wilcox
You come to the time in your life, when the motherfucker tells ya, you got cancer. And not as friendly as the first time. This one’s gonna kill me. He figures I have five months before I take a cab. Tops. So, yeah. I’m pissed. But the crazy thing is, I shoulda been killed once or twice back in the day. I wasn’t always Alex Rocco.
My Ma was 15 when she married my Dad. They were from Naples. My Dad needed a second chance. Somethin’ about shootin’ a guy in the wrong bed. He hadda leave town. They ended up in Somerville, Mass. Just outside of Boston. Had three daughters and then, in ‘36, Dad got his son. Me. I was born Alessandro Federico Petricone. I’m first generation American and 100% fuckin’ Italian.
I watched Dad buy into the “American Dream.” He worked hard for it. And he got a piece of it. A house, a gas station and a caddy. But it killed him. I was 12. Open casket in our living room. Ma made me kiss him on the lips, to “seal my love.” I wanted nothin’ to do with his dream! Work? Get the fuck outta here.
Ma had no control after Dad died. So a few years later, I quit school. What’s she gonna do? If you wanted to find me, I’d be at Don’s Donuts with my buddies. Papalato, Geezer, Joey Beans and Musty Two Bucks. Just like it sounds. When we broke down a bill, Musty would say, “I must have two bucks on me.” But he never did. We’d bet on anything. A coupla old farts crossin’ the street and who’d get to the curb first. Hadda be both feet up. Life is in the details. You lose a sawbuck and you’d be workin’ a whole day, just to pay it off. Don’s was across from the Capitol Cafe. The Cap, if you were hip. We sat in front of the window, so we could watch the Winter Hill Gang pull up in their caddies and roadmasters.
Buddy McLean? Started the whole thing. He was the boss. Had a choir boy face, but was scrappy as sin. Never went in a bar without hittin’ someone. Figured where’s the fun without a fight? If Buddy got popped, Howie Winter would be next in line. No questions asked. They were gangsters. But ya gotta remember, it was the 50s. These guys were fuckin’ cool. They all packed. Plenty were made. Some did time. More would. This is what it’s all about. We had these guys down. Dressed like ‘em. Walked like ‘em. Smoked like ‘em. I was gonna be one of ‘em.
That was my dream. Well... a bookie. I wasn’t gonna carry a piece or anything like that. I was gonna count money. I got the temperament. I’m good with numbers. Love action. It’s a no brainer. With a lotta luck, I was gonna get a sit down with Howie. No one gets a place of their own without his blessing. Yeah. Of all my buddies? It was me gonna make that walk to the Cap. Who knew it would take a coupla years to pull it off.
I wasn’t patient. If I couldn’t take bets, I was gonna make ‘em. So I’d go to Suffolk Downs two, three times a week, to learn how to handicap the ponies. It’s an art form. To this day I still haven’t fuckin’ mastered it. Sometimes you’re just lookin’ for a sign. One day Eddie Arcaro nodded at me. He won the Triple Crown on Citation and he’s noddin’ at me. Course I bet on him. He just told me he was gonna win. I bet all I had and all I didn’t have. Lost by a fuckin’ nose. You could hear the crowd groan. Watch tickets floatin’ to the ground. A bookie’s wet dream. That’s where the money is! That’s the side I gotta get on. The sooner the better.
Ma was bustin’ my balls. Threatened she’d take back my new ‘55 Olds, she got me, ‘til I found a job. Like I promised. My sister Vivi? She always had my back. She worked at I.J. Fur Company and tells Ma she can get me a job delivering. I’m drivin’ my truck. Bored to fuckin’ tears, when I see Skinny on the corner. He waves me over. Gets in. I figure he needs to cop a ride. He asks me, “You still wanna be a bookie?” I tell him, “Yeah. ‘Course I do.” He says, “It’s gonna cost you.” Gettin’ robbed by my sister’s boyfriend is the last thing I saw comin’. Next thing I know we’re tossin’ minks in his trunk. I can’t believe it. He’s got twenty, thirty grand in his trunk. And now I gotta sell a fuckin’ robbery to the cops or get my ass hauled in. And for this he dukes me five hundred. Then he takes back four! Slips ‘em right outta my hand. “For Gebo.” He says. “He’s a bookie. You prove yourself, he’ll hook you up with Howie.”
I got a little bread in my pocket. So me and my buddies are playin’ craps in the alley. Just before midnight, we cash out and run over to the Veterans of Foreign Wars for the last dance. Just in time to pick up the crumbs. I liked this gal, Gracie. She was there. I’d been too afraid to talk to her. Enough of that shit! I was one step away from meetin’ Howie. So I sucked in my 300 pounds of insecurity and asked her to dance. Oh. Did I not mention my weight? My nickname is Bobo. For butterball. You got the picture. She sizes me up. All of me. I could crawl in a hole waitin’ for her answer. “You got a car?” I figure I’m dancin’. “Yeah.” Then she comes up with the low hold card wild, “You got a job?” I tell her, “I’m lookin’ for one.” She didn’t miss a beat, “Call me when you got one.” A fuckin’ corner girl. Made me want her all the more!
Talk about motivation. I run Skinny down that night. Get him to make the call to Gebo. It’s on. I go to his joint. The Willows. It’s hoppin’. I follow him around for a coupla months. He does some cool shit. Like writin’ codes on a strip of juicy fruit gum. The heat comes? You chew the evidence. I learn the ins an outs quick. Take a few bets. Tell a few jokes. When you’re as fat as I am, funny helps. Then the game changer! Fuckin’ Gebo pulls off the meeting. This is big.
So... I’m at Don’s, gettin’ the once over. Geezer gets my tie right. Papalato is spit shinin’ my shoes. Fats Domino is on the Juke Box, singin’ “I’m Walkin’.” It’s a sign. I check my watch. It’s time. Musty opens the door for me. I shoot my cuffs. Take that first step off the curb. No turnin’ back. I know my boys are watchin’ me from our window. Then everything feels like slow mo. I got no spit to swallow. I stop to light a cigarette. Suck in ‘til my balls pull up. Keep goin’. I walk through that door like I was meant to.
It’s dark. Smokey. Crowded. No one makes like they see me. Could give a shit. I got the duck syndrome goin’. Calm on top of the water, paddling like crazy underneath. I ask a guy if he’s seen Howie. Mr. Cool is what I’m goin’ for. He looks at me. Too late. I think it’s Joe “The Animal” Barboza. I’m dead. That’s it. Fuckin’ dead. Before I ever meet Howie! Not that I did anything wrong. The interruption is enough. He’s got these detached eyes. Looks at me like I’m a fuckin’ gnat he’s about to swat. Another guy takes pity on me. Nods the direction I should go. I won’t shit for a week.
Howie’s got his back to the wall. Sees everything. Muscle stands around. He’s eating. Damn. I wait? I’m late. I walk up? Disturb his meal? No respect. He doesn’t even look up when he says, “Bobo the bookie.” Keeps cuttin’ his meat. Nods I should take a seat. Still no eye contact. I show some manners. Snuff out my cigarette and wait. I’m sweatin’. Wonderin’... how’s this goin’? Have I blown it? Has word gotten back to him, already, that I just pissed off Joe Barboza? I crack my back. Wish I hadn’t. Just sit the fuck down.
Howie finally asks me a question. He musta heard the right answer, ‘cause he pulls out his bankroll. Peels off ten c-notes. Doesn’t make a dent in his wad. He calls it start up money. Explains the vig. Tells me the Office takes a 50/50 split. Gives me the Ball Square Bar & Grill. I figure I’m workin’ with Charlie The Hook and say, “I look forward to meetin’ Charlie.” Howie informs me, “That’s not likely to happen.” I’m hopin’ early retirement. But I’m hearin’, in the front door and out the back. That was it. Sit down over. I slide the cash in my pocket. I feel like a man. Take my cue to walk away. Just as I’m thinkin’ what a doll he is, he says to me, “Nobody fucks the Office, Bobo.” Nope. I bet they don’t.
Jesus! I’m legit. I call Gracie. Well, I call Ma first. I’m Italian. Tell her I got a job bartending. She’s over the moon. Wants to make me rigatoni al forno. Then I call Gracie. I tell her ‘bout Howie. Ask if she wants to go check out my new establishment. Yes? Really? Why? I’m thinkin’. She could do better. Get a guy with experience. I mean I’ve kissed a girl. Went to first base with her. But it was my cousin. Does that count? Don’t overthink it, Bo. It’s a sign. Everything’s fallin’ into place.
If I coulda stopped Gracie from gettin’ outta the car? I woulda. Saved myself the humiliation. What a shit hole. I was lookin’ around for the Condemned sign. Had to be there. Gracie goes in. We go in the kitchen for signs of life. Grease so thick, I was afraid to light up. Not Nick, the fry cook. Little guy. Wirey. He had one in his mouth at all times. Never flicked it. I introduce myself, “I’m a friend of Howie’s. The new bookie. This is my girl... Gracie.” It just slipped out. And she didn’t get mad. Are you trackin’ me? ‘Cause this is a big fuckin’ deal. I’ve never had a real girl. A cute one no less. Things zipped along after that. I had a new appreciation for my car. So glad I made Ma pay that extra seventeen bucks for the deluxe, padded dashboard. The medallion on my steering wheel though? Very cool. But Gracie’s hair kept gettin’ stuck in it. Otherwise, things were great with us.
Work? That’s another story. The grand total of bets, in this dump, is three bucks a day. And that’s Nick. At least now I know what happened to Charlie The Hook. He committed suicide. Who could live off a dollar fifty? I’m thinkin’ what the hell am I doin’ here? I have a tip on a horse. I could be at the track, breathin’ fresh air with my buddies. I still have Howie’s money in my pocket. Most of it. And I’m not gonna lay out?! I call the Office. Here comes the rush. Tony answers. I give him Nick’s bullshit bet, then end up with mine. “$300 across the board.” Tony cross examines me, “Is this legit?” I make up a story. He buys it. “That horse is 20 to 1! If he wins, Howie’ll have a fit. Won’t be pretty.”
I watch the clock. The call finally comes in. “Congratulations, Bo!” I do the math! That’s over four large! My stomach flips. “Nice hit for you and the Office.” Oh, fuck. It sinks in. Howie didn’t have his fit. I’m stuck a buck an’ a half. “Is that it?” He asks. I tell him, “$500 on the Sox.”
I promised Gracie a nice dinner out. That didn’t happen. I hadda listen to the game. It’s my job. She’s givin’ me the silent treatment. But the top’s down. It’s perfect baseball weather. She looks nice. And we got pizza from Regina’s. Best ever made. Frankie Sullivan is pitching. Ted Williams is Left Field. Crazy Jimmy Piersall is all over Center. I’m holdin’ my breath he doesn’t go bonkers on me. It’s the bottom of the 9th. Phil Rizzuto steps up to bat. He’s a bunter. I got it made. One more out. It’s all I need. Gracie refuses to eat. “Strike one.” Claims she’s just too angry to swallow. “Ball one.” Goes on and on ‘bout how this isn’t a date. “Strike two.” “Fine.” I say. “Pass the fuckin’ pizza.” “Ball two.” Jesus. The crowd is goin’ wild. “Full house.” My nuts are twitchin’. Yep. You guessed it. The Scooter got a double. Brought the Mick in. I’m stuck four hundred by Monday.
There’s always a game at the Garage. That’s the Office. I know. Don’t take a shit where you eat. But I was desperate. I needed to play with some heavy hitters. The guys at the table look like a fuckin’ line up. Doesn’t take me long to spot the tells. One guy taps three fingers two times, before he bluffs and raises. Him I got. He doesn’t have it. I double. He sees. Bingo. My pot. It’s like that a while. Then comes the big action. I win a few. Lose more. One I stay in with nothin’ but my game face. Bets get outta hand. Howie folds. “You better not be chasin’ me out with my money.” Now I’m one on one with the tapper. And I’m in deep. He’s thinkin’. He taps. Raises through the roof. I got ‘im. I sign a note. Call it. We turn ‘em over. He has a full fuckin’ house, cowboys high. I have a pair. A pair of balls.
Now this tapper? He has a way for me to pay his note and still pick up a bankroll. “I’m listenin’.” The next thing I know, we drive up to a manicured lawn, in Brookline. No cars on this grass. He hands me a piece. Shit. “No guns. I’d rather spit blood.” He tells me, “Suck it up, Bo. They’re out for the night. It’s a walk in the park.” I stick the gun in my belt. It’s a rush. He gets us in like a houseguest. No problem. Unless ya call a maid, screamin’ her head off, one. “Cover her.” He says. I pull out my gun. I’m shakin’ and about to puke. He goes upstairs to find the safe.
I try to calm the lady down. Ask if she has kids. That breaks the ice. Am I wrong? Dead wrong! All she hears is a threat to her babies. The tapper? He’s yellin’ I should do somethin’. So I run and get her water. Tell her to sit down. Now she’s breakin’ a cardinal rule. Sittin’ on this dick’s sofa. It takes all the charm I got, to make this broad feel safe. By the end, we were drinkin’ outta the same glass. Still I wasn’t sure she wasn’t gonna have a heart attack on me. I get back to Don’s? Call her an ambulance.
The next day, I head back to the Garage. Howie tosses me keys. “You’re drivin’.” Cool. Buddy hops in back. Very cool. Until I realize... oh shit, they’re collecting. Buddy jumps outta the car. He’s all over a guy’s face. Howie’s undisturbed, “You got our money, Bobo?” Buddy jumps back in. He’s pumped. Then, like an after thought, he’s back outta the car. Seems there was one more spot he didn’t hit. “Yeah, I got it.” I pull out the money. “It’s all there. You can count it.” Whadda ginzaloon I am. ‘Course he’s gonna count it. Fuck. These guys aren’t kiddin’ around. When I think how close I was to comin’ up short!
Now I’d a thought a guy would feel bad if he’d a just popped a guy’s knee and fucked up his face. Not Buddy. He felt like havin’ a piece of pie. We drive to Porter’s Diner. Me and Buddy jump out. Howie waits in the car. We walk in. A guy looks at him wrong. Yeah. That’s what I’m thinkin’. How wrong could a guy look, waitin’ for his pie? Buddy gives him a sucker punch. Guy doesn’t know what hit him. All hell breaks loose. I throw one of those racks with five pies stacked up. Musta been pent up steam. It mighta been funny if I wasn’t so scared.
Ok. To keep myself in check? I play the odds. More bets, smaller denominations. Smart. I got action, but I can’t get in trouble. And it works. For a while. But when you’re watchin’ a crap game? And it’s like drugs in your veins? And the dice are fallin’? Who wouldn’t toss their car keys in on a roll? That’s not crazy, is it? And now I’m jammed up with the Office again. A couple large. In case you’re thinkin’... so what? I’ll tell you so what, motherfucker! You got an extra seventeen thousand dollars layin’ around? ‘Cause that’s what it’d be today. Are ya trackin’ me? I needed a plan. And I needed it now. ‘Cause me and hurt was not an option. I got it! It’s brilliant. The crime of the century! No masks. No guns. No one gets whacked. I just fuckin’ amazed myself! I’ll get married.
I know my people. It’s all about the envelopes! They’re a thing of beauty. ‘Cause who wants to look stingy!? Not my Guineas. I’m workin’ the reception line. My body’s never moved so fast. I gotta stuff the purse, attached to Gracie’s fuckin’ wrist. But I gotta get a few to go South. Gracie’s oblivious to my moves. Not Ma. She’s got eyes in the back of her head. But I pull it off. It’s called finesse. Howie shows up. Meets Gracie. Tells her she looks radiant. Fuckin’ Howie comes up with “radiant!” I like that he shows up. It’s respectful. Makes it official. I’m part of the gang. All’s good with the Office. Whadda night.
Now I’d be lyin’ if I said marriage was easy. If I got the same thrill in bed, that I got when I was on a roll? I mighta stayed home more. And don’t get me wrong. I love Gracie. She doesn’t sing when she cooks. Like Ma did. Ma said it made everything taste better. I miss that. But Gracie makes a great pot roast. Made one for Howie the night he came over to meet our baby. Oh yeah. We got one of those. Howie was my only friend Gracie approved of. Maybe ‘cause he brought flowers and slipped c-notes in the baby’s crib.
One night after dinner, Howie and I are havin’ a cigarette. Gracie’s cleanin’ up. Howie says, “Bo. You wanna make some good money tonight?” I hesitate. “Don’t worry. You don’t have to pop someone.” He hands me an address. I’m outta there. Hijacking is a whole nother thrill. You never know what’s comin’ down. Once we thought we were gettin’ cigarettes? We got vending machines. Not easy to fence. Tonight it’s Gillette razors. Black gold they’re called. Small, expensive, buyers all over town. We were slick. They never saw us comin’.
To celebrate, we always went to Izzy Ort’s to listen to jazz and toss a few back. Quincy Delight Jones is playin’. Very hip. But I’m feelin’ excited and wanna bring it home to Gracie. If you catch my drift. Howie’s car is still there. Cool. I’ll have a nightcap with him. Tell him what went down. But wait a sec. I got this thought. It’s crawlin’ up my spine. So I go around to the bedroom window. And there they are. Fuck me.
I leave. Drive around. I end up at Don’s and grab the guys. Hey. I may not always have money, but I always got a plan. We come back in a truck. Fuckin’ Howie’s gone by now. We pull on ski masks and grab baseball bats. Go into the bedroom on fire. Ma gave us a mahogany bedroom set. Side tables. His and her dressers. All kinds of shit. We’re takin’ it all, ‘cause it makes me sick. I pull Gracie outta bed. She’s screamin’, “Do you know who I am? I’m Howie Winter’s girlfriend. You won’t get away with this.” I go dead inside. I don’t even hear the baby cryin’. Beans and Geezer have to finish the job. Then they pull me outta there. I drive to the Garage. Silence hangs like a body bag.
We get to the Garage. Howie’s there. There’s a game goin’ on. I tell him, “Thanks for the gig tonight, but I’m still gonna be short.” He says, “Come on, Bo. You’re puttin’ me in a spot. I can’t keep givin’ you a pass.” “But wait!” I say. “I got something you might like.” I fling the fuckin’ doors open on the truck. I’m pullin’ shit out, took two men to get it in. Drawers still have clothes in ‘em. Panties and bras flyin’. I throw the mattress at him. A side table. A bottle of gin. And a match. “If you’re gonna take from me, you might as well take everything!” THAT NEVER HAPPENED. Pure fantasy! I’d a been fuckin’ dead. And to be honest? I wasn’t really that upset about losin’ the broad. It was about losin’ a friend. I probably shoulda just thanked him. He took care of ‘em both.
Howie still has me at the Ball Square Bar & Grill. I’m in my element. Knockin’ back a few Crown Royals. I go outside ‘cause a goddamn jackhammer is infiltrating an otherwise perfect day. He’s been there a fuckin’ week. The guy takes a break. Lights up. I start workin’ the corner. Horses, numbers, dogs. You name it. The guy comes over. Lookin’ for some action. I don’t know him, but who am I to deny a workin’ stiff some pleasure? He pushes his badge into my face. The fuckin’ “Fibbie” cuffs me. Big news, that night, in the Boston Globe. “Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy Cleans Up Boston! Sin City of the World.”
It’s 1959. I’m in Suffolk County Courthouse, lined up with 27 other alleged bookies. Howie’s one of ‘em. Buddy. Gebo. It was quite the reunion. Superior Court Justice, Frederick McMenimen, presides. Everyone gets three months. Not bad. Then he gives me ten. I look at Ma. She knows the fuckin’ judge. Was a good friend of Dad’s. And I pull ten months?! What the fuck?! Seems Ma had one of her bright ideas. She thought I needed more time to learn my lesson. Tough love. God bless her.
Billerica. The General Population isn’t kiddin’ around here. They’ll rip your throat out for kicks. I’m makin’ toilet brushes. It’s not enough they got me eatin’ shit. I gotta make it too? As soon as they release everyone... but me... the Warden sets me up. Wants me to snitch on a guy. Let’s call him “Joe Black.” This guy is bigger than life. His reputation precedes him. To snitch on Joe Black? It’s a fuckin’ death sentence. But if I don’t go with it, the Warden will just make it look like I did. He’s got my nuts in a vice. Joe Black is one of Jerry Angiulo’s men. You call ‘em Mafia, we call ‘em “In Town,” ‘cause you hafta go in town to see ‘em. To pay tribute. These guys are the big leagues. Everyone pays ‘em. You don’t whack someone without their approval.
I walk into Joe Black’s cell. It’s like a room at the Fairmont. Nice arm chair. Big TV. I tell him I’m Bo Petricone. Say I work for Buddy and Howie. He may not eat with them, but he knows ‘em. He’s got respect for ‘em. I’m thinkin’ what’s the worst thing could happen? So I come clean. Spill the beans on the Warden. What happens next is crazy. Joe Black likes me. He puts me in charge of distributing pharmaceuticals for him. It’s the worst possible scenario Ma could imagine. Me. A stand up guy, from the Hill, workin’ for Joe Black. He stuffs paper in my pocket. I come up with another plan. Inject oranges with vodka. Call ‘em “Balls.” A little side action. Before long, I’m eatin’ Chinese food and entertainin’ hookers with him. Oh. Here’s the best part... I lose 100 pounds of baby fat! I come out walkin’ tall.
It’s Labor Day Weekend. 1961. There’s an annual party at Salisbury Beach. Everyone goes. Wives. Kids. Girlfriends. Gangs. It’s a time out for rivalry. Georgie McLaughlin? He’s one of three brothers who run the Charlestown Gang. He’s the butt ugly, foul- mouthed, aggressive, alcoholic one. That’d be his sweet side. He cold cocked a horse earlier that day. Problem was, a cop was ridin’ him, when he did it. No one accuses Georgie of bein’ too smart. Bottom line? He was on a collision course that day. By the time he got to the party, and started vomiting profanities at someone’s girlfriend, he’d already been beat up twice. Now this part gets gray. Some people say it was my girlfriend... so you could assume I took the first punch. Some say it wasn’t. I’ll say this, “I was in the vicinity.” People have been tryin’ to figure out how the Irish Gang War got started for years. But unless you were there, I guess you’ll never know. Everyone who knew Georgie wanted to get their licks in. No one held back. He was smacked around ‘til he was toothless and comatose. Then rolled out of a moving car, onto the hospital lawn. Who said we had no heart?
Now his brother, Bernie? He wanted revenge. Does what any self-righteous prick would do. Demands names! Has he never heard a Buddy McLean story? ‘Cause a demand? That’s just short of suicidal. Buddy ignores him like a watered down drink. A bomb is planted in Buddy’s car. Story is... Buddy’s upstairs when his German Shepherds go nuts. Buddy looks out the window. Shoots the sidewalk. Feet scatter. Buddy finds the sticks of dynamite. Bernie turns up dead the next day. High noon. In front of the Morning Glory Cafe. Plenty of witnesses. Only one comes forward. Buddy and I are arrested for murder.
Buddy tells me, “Keep your mouth shut, Bo. Wait and see what happens.” He hires a young, hotshot lawyer... F. Lee Bailey. We’re stuck in the death row cell block, ‘til our trial. Maybe to keep us safe. I don’t know. We listen to innocent dicks all day. All night. This is my fuckin’ reality. It might be my fuckin’ life. Trial finally comes up. Buddy and I wear suits. Ma musta brought mine in. We’re walked into the Courthouse. It’s full. Linda Lee is the witness. She was a singer once. Now she’s just down and out. She’d heard four shots. Seen a gun. Watched it handed off to a tall guy in a long coat. Seen an underpass and a getaway car with its trunk open. Not bad. Everyone else is runnin’ away, but she stops to take notes. During all of this testimony? She’s doin’ her hair. Up and down. Bobby pins. Fluffin’. Gets done with it? Starts over. So I’m askin’. Would you believe her? Or would you believe me? The judge tosses it out on insufficient evidence. I never dropped a dime.
I’m out. I’m free. But somehow Howie sees the future. An all out war. “I can’t protect you, Bo. Just because the court threw it out, doesn’t mean the McLaughlins will.” He hands me a gun and a bankroll. “You gotta go. I see you around? I’ll kill ya myself, just to stop worryin’ about ya.” Fuckin’ Howie saved me more than once. This was the big one. The Irish Gang War lasted another ten years. It was a bloodbath. Buddy got capped down the line. And the bodies piled up. Howie took over. It’d be another eighteen years before Whitey Bulger got the top seat. Me? I flipped a coin. Miami? Or Los Angeles?
I rode the Chieftain West. All I could think of was my old man. This is my second chance. I’m not fuckin’ this one up. We pull into the “City of Angels.” I need me one of them. Rocco’s Bakery truck drives by. “It’s a fuckin’ sign! ‘Alex Rocco.’ I like it.”
1972. I got made. But not in Boston. I got made in Hollywood when Mr. Coppola cast me, as Moe fuckin’ Greene, in “The Godfather.” I didn’t know it then, but I just got a piece of the “American Dream.”
ALEX ROCCO, a first generation Italian, was born Alessandro Federico Petricone… in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Across from Harvard University, where he was later given the prestigious Harvard Lampoon Award). Wanting to avert "the corner" and the lure of a life of crime, he flipped a coin between Miami and Los Angeles. It was the early 60's. LA won the toss. He tended bar at the Rain Check Room… a hangout for actors. Ironically, though not into the acting scene, he stole his first acting job, BATMAN, and has been playing gangsters, cops and tough guys ever since. His most notable role was ‘Moe Greene’, a Las Vegas casino owner, who takes a bullet in the eye, in THE GODFATHER. ‘Nick Calabrese’, in Sydney Lumet's FIND ME GUILTY, earned him reviews that applauded his "gravitas" and described him as, "deadly as a cobra".
Some of his earlier films include: THE STUNT MAN, THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE, LADY IN WHITE and VOICES. With a flair for comedy, he did FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, HERBIE GOES BANANAS, CANNONBALL RUN II, THE POPE MUST DIE, GET SHORTY, THAT THING YOU DO and THE WEDDING PLANNER…playing J-Lo's father. The most fun he's had acting, was playing a slick, smarmy agent in THE FAMOUS TEDDY Z. He won an Emmy for his "ferociously funny" performance. Some of his other television series were: FACTS OF LIFE, THREE FOR THE ROAD, THE GEORGE CARLIN SHOW and THE DIVISION. He's also done 400 TV guest appearances. His distinctive voice landed him ‘Roger Myers Jr.’, owner of Itchy and Scratchy, on THE SIMPSONS and ‘Thorny’ the ant, in A BUG'S LIFE.
It seems the coin toss has done alright by him. Now if it could only help him pick a horse at Santa Anita.