Eugene Roche

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Eugene Roche
Eugene Roche Anne Meara The Corner Bar 1973.JPG
Roche with Anne Meara in a scene from The Corner Bar in 1973.
Born Eugene Harrison Roche
(1928-09-22)September 22, 1928
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died July 28, 2004(2004-07-28) (aged 75)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Character actor, commercial pitchman
Years active 1961–2004

Eugene Harrison Roche (September 22, 1928 – July 28, 2004) was an American actor. He was probably best known as the original "Ajax Man" in 1970s television commercials.

Personal life[edit]

Roche was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Mary M. (née Finnegan) and Robert F. Roche, who was at the time serving in the U.S. Navy.[1] Roche served in the United States Army after graduating high school. He was the father of nine children including actors Eamonn Roche, Liam Roche, Chad Roche, Brogan Roche, and Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Sean Roche. Roche died in Los Angeles, California from a heart attack, aged 75.[2]


Roche made his Broadway debut in 1961 as a bit player in the play Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole with Darren McGavin and went on to act in Mother Courage with Anne Bancroft in 1963 and The White House with Helen Hayes in 1964. In Hollywood, Roche would go on to appear in myriad supporting character roles, both dramatic and comedic, that would define his acting career.

Television comedy would become his forte with recurring roles on Soap as Jessica Tate's lovelorn attorney, Night Court as Christine Sullivan's overbearing father, and Perfect Strangers as Larry Appleton's boss. He also had choice support parts on film, including The Late Show (1977) starring Art Carney and Lily Tomlin, Foul Play (1978) starring Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn, and Corvette Summer (1978) starring Mark Hamill and Annie Potts.

Roche played supporting actor in two episodes of Kojak. The first as accountant Seymore Haywood in Acts of Desperate Men and the second as Detective 'Sandy' Beach in Out of the Frying Pan.

In 1977, Roche appeared in "Never Con a Killer," the pilot for the ABC crime drama The Feather and Father Gang.

Roche was also known on Airwolf as United States Senator William Dietz in the pilot episode "Shadow of the Hawke" and as a drunken friend of Dominic Santini's named Eddie in the episode "Firestorm" in season 2. He also had a recurring role in five Magnum, P.I. episodes as the lovable but pain in the neck, Luther Gillis, a gumshoe from St. Louis, with an old school attitude.

Roche also appeared as practical joker "Pinky Peterson", one of Archie Bunker's buddies, on the hit CBS-TV series All in the Family. In a memorable Christmas Day episode, "The Draft Dodger" (Episode 146, 1976), Pinky, whose son was killed in the Vietnam War, has Christmas dinner with the Bunkers and an acquaintance of Mike and Gloria, David Brewster (portrayed by actor Renny Temple), who was a draft evader living in Canada at that time. Archie angrily confronted David over this and treated him harshly. Pinky calmly and respectfully disagreed with Archie's opinion and defended David. He felt it would be an honor to have dinner with David, and believed his son would have felt the same. Roche reprised the role in other All in the Family episodes the next few seasons.


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