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)
Encino, 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] He served in the United States Army after graduating from 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.


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.


Roche died in an Encino, California hospital from a heart attack, aged 75.[2]


Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Eugene Roche profile,; accessed August 27, 2015.
  2. ^ Eugene Roche, 75, Actor in TV and Film, Dies,, July 31, 2004; accessed August 27, 2015.

External links[edit]