|Born||Eugene Harrison Roche
September 22, 1928
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||July 28, 2004
Encino, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Character actor, commercial pitchman|
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. He served in the United States Army after graduating high school.
He married Marjory Perkins in 1953; the couple had nine children, including actor Eamonn Roche and Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Sean Roche. They divorced in 1981. Eugene Roche remarried in 1982 and remained married to his second wife, Anntoni C. Roche (née Bratman), until his death in 2004.
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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 appear in Mother Courage with Anne Bancroft in 1963, and in The White House with Helen Hayes in 1964. Television comedy would become his forte with recurring roles on Soap, Night Court, Webster, and Perfect Strangers. Roche appeared as "Pinky Peterson", one of Archie Bunker's buddies, on several episodes of All in the Family, in mostly comedic episodes. He had supporting parts in such feature films as The Late Show (1977), Foul Play (1978), and Corvette Summer (1978).
Roche did play dramatic supporting roles as well, often playing deceptively ordinary men who are shown to be capable of ruthlessness, menacing violence or disturbing perversity. In Murder, She Wrote, he played a very bad cop who attempts to kill off Jessica Fletcher, and as a criminal mastermind posing as a Catholic bishop in the film Foul Play. He appeared in two episodes of Kojak. In 1977, he appeared in "Never Con a Killer" (the pilot episode for The Feather and Father Gang).
He made two appearances on Airwolf (once as United States Senator William Dietz in the pilot episode "Shadow of the Hawke", and again as Eddie in the episode "Firestorm" in season 2). Roche appeared in five episodes of Magnum, P.I. as Luther Gillis, a sometimes brutal private eye from St. Louis, Missouri.
- Dancing at the Harvest Moon (2002) ... as Gil Finnigan
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1997) "Honey, We've Been Swallowed By Grandpa" ... as Grandpa Matthew Murdock
- Executive Decision (1996) ... as Admiral Lewis
- When a Man Loves a Woman (1994) ... as Walter
- Roswell (1994) (TV movie) ... as James Forrestal
- A Friend to Die For (1994) ... The Priest
- Julie (1992) ... as Wooley
- The Last Halloween (1991)
- Lenny (1990) ... as Pat
- Perfect Strangers (1987–1988) ... as Harry Burns
- Take Five (1987) ... as Max Davis
- Night Court (1984–1988) ... as Jack Sullivan
- Airwolf (1984) ... as Senator William Dietz (Shadow of the Hawke), Eddie (Firestorm)
- Webster (1984–1986) ... as Bill Parker
- Oh, God! You Devil (1984) ... as Charlie Gray
- Magnum, P.I. (1983 - 1988) "Luther Gillis: File #521" ... as Luther Gillis
- Miracle on Ice (1981) (TV movie) ... as Don Craig
- Rape and Marriage: The Rideout Case (1980) ... as Gary Gortmaker
- Good Time Harry (1980) ... as Jimmy Hughes
- The Ghost of Flight 401 (1978)....as Andrews
- Corvette Summer (1978) ... as Ed McGrath
- The New Maverick (1978) ... as Austin Crupper
- Foul Play (1978) ... as Archbishop Thorncrest
- Soap (1977–1981) ... as E. Ronald Mallu, Esq.
- The Late Show (1977) ... as Ronnie Birdwell
- Quinn Martin's Tales of the Unexpected (1977) "The Nomads" ... as Langston
- All in the Family (1976–1978) ... as Pinky Petersen
- Mr. Ricco (1975) ... as Detective George Cronyn
- Kojak (1975) "Out of the Frying Pan" ... as Detective 'Sandy' Beach
- Kojak (1975) "Acts of Desperate Men" ... as Seymour Haywood
- W (1974) ... as Charles Jasper
- Newman's Law (1974) ... as Reardon
- Crawlspace (1972) ... as Sheriff Emil Birge
- Slaughterhouse-Five (1972) ... as Edgar Derby
- Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) ... as Anderson
- Tom Vallance. Eugene Rocke obituary, The Independent (August 8, 2004)
- Myrna Oliver. Eugene Roche, 75; Character Actor in Films, Television, Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2004; accessed August 27, 2015.