Eugene Roche (1928–2004)
Eugene Roche was born in Boston on September 22, 1928 and passed away from a heart attack in Encino, CA on July 28th 2004. His ability to take a role and breathe believability and truth into it that has sustained his dramatic and comedic career of more that four decades on stage, in films and television. He emerged as one of the entertainment industry's most sought after and recognizable character actors of his time. Eugene was born at the height of the depression into a family of four brothers and a sister. His father, Robert, a quartermaster in the U.S. Navy, fell in love with a girl named Mary Finnegan and they remained sweethearts for their entire lives.
With five children of their own and money being scarce, Mary took in boarders all of whom were under the age of four. And they all slept in Gene's room. His first paid job as an actor came at the age of 15 working for WERS Radio in Boston doing a variety of character voices ranging from young men to old women where he mac1e two bucks a show.
Leaving high school at the age of 17, Eugene enlisted in the army adding a fourth star on the service flag hanging in his family's front window. His father and two older brothers were already serving in World War II.
After basic training, and on his way aboard a troop ship moving toward Japan as part of the Allied occupation, he found himself sandwiched in a bunk bed between two fat, seasick G.I.'s on E deck in the bowels of the ship. Answering a notice on the ship's bulletin board for an emcee for a show at sea, he won the audition and escaped to good food and fresh air. Ahhhh! Show biz!
Upon his discharge he returned to Boston and enrolled at Emerson College under the G.I bill While attending Emerson, Eugene appeared in numerous summer stock, variety shows, and touring companies in the New England area. Some of the people he appeared with during this time were Bob Fosse in "Pal Joey" and Henry Fonda in "Point of No Return."
As an inactive reservist he was recalled into service because of the Korean War and returned to college upon discharge; completed his education; married; and headed for San Francisco with his new bride, a great Dane, and another actor all traveling together in an English Austin automobile with a questionable sunroof. San Francisco marked the beginning of a seminal period for Eugene's development as an actor. From 1953 through 1958 he had the opportunity to perform in classic plays by playwrights such as O'Casey, O'Neill, Brecht, Beckett and Ionesco with the newly formed Actor's Workshop of San Francisco. He also had the distinction of starring in the inaugural production of "Separate Tables" at the Commedia Theatre in Palo Alto.
Soon after his arrival in San Francisco he spotted a casting notice in The Chronicle for Equity actors for the newly formed Actor's Workshop. He won the leading role of Robert in "The Girl on the Via Flaminia" followed by many others including the American premiere of "Mother Courage" [the cook]. "The Iceman Cometh" ['Hickey'], and the West Coast premiere of "Waiting for Godot" ['Vladimir']. This production of "Waiting for Godot" had the distinction of being the first production ever performed inside San Quentin prison and was chosen by the U.S. State Dept. to represent America at the 1959 Brussels' World's Fair in Belgium.
With the prestige and success of Godot, Eugene moved to New York where he never stopped working. He worked during the hey-day of 'live' television doing such shows as "The Armstrong Circle Theatre", "U.S. Steel Hour", and "CBS Play of the Week". He appeared in countIess commercials as well as episodic television shows such as "The Defenders" and "Naked City".
His off-Broadway credits include Dylan Thomas' "Under Milkwood at Circle" in the Square and the musical version of James Thurber's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" [recorded by Columbia Records]. William and James Goldman's production of "Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole" starring Darren McGavin which introduced Eugene to Broadway audiences along with his co-star Peter Fonda, who was making his Broadway debut as well.
Following Eugene's debut he appeared with Helen Hayes on Broadway in A.E Hotchner's "In the White House" which, incidentally, was done as a command performance for President Johnson in Washington, D.C.
He also appeared in the Broadway premiere of "Mother Courage" with Anne Bancroft directed by Jerome Robbins; "All in Good Time" with Sir Donald Wolfitt; "The Millionairess" with Carol Channing; "Great Day in the Morning" produced by George C. Scott with Colleen Dewhurst; Arthur Miller's "The Price" and the West Coast premiere of "Time of the Barracudas" with Laurence Harvey and Elaine Stritch. While living in New York Eugene also co-starred in two television series: "Higher and Higher - Attorneys at Law" with John McMartin and Sally Kellerman and "The Corner Bar" with Anne Meara as well as doing the films "Cotton Comes to Harlem" [Godfrey Cambridge]; "The Happening" [Faye Dunaway]; "They Might Be Giants",[George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward]; "W" [in Cinerama with Twiggy]; "Star" [Julie Andrews]; "Newman's Law" [George Peppard]; "Mr. Ricco" [Dean Martin]; and "Slaughterhouse-Five". In 1974 Eugene moved to Los Angeles where he continued his motion picture appearances with such films as "The Late Show" [Lily. Tomlin and Art Carney]; "Corvette Summer" [Mark Hamill and Annie Potts]; "Foul Play" [Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn]; "Oh God, You Devil" [George Burns]; "Eternity" [Jon Voight]; "When a Man Loves a Woman" [Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia]; and "Executive Decision" [Steven Segal and Kurt Russell]
Some of his memorable television roles include his stint as E. Ronald Mallu, the humorously sly attorney on "Soap"; Archie Bunker's nemesis, Pinky Peterson, on "All in the Family"; Markie Post's father on the long-running "Night Court" series; Harry Burns, the newspaper editor on "Perfect Strangers"; the cantankerous Luther Gillis in "Magnum P.I."; Bill Parker, the lovable landlord in "Webster"; and, most recently, as Eric Jr. in "Dave's Wor1d". His list of starring credits in Movies of the Week; guest appearances; and other principal roles in series goes on and on.
Eugene spent his last years residing in Los Angeles with his wife of 20 years, actress Anntoni Roche, in their hillside home where he enjoyed inventing and building things while singing obscure songs to their dog, Belle. Eugene was very proud of all of his nine children and three of his sons are following in his footsteps. Eamonn and Brogan, were establishing acting careers and, Sean, is an Emmy award-winning writer/producer. Eugene wrote a book of short stories chronicling the funny and moving people and events that have touched and graced his life.
Adept at both comedy and drama, character player Eugene Roche (sometimes billed as Gene Roche) had an extensive four-decade career. Born in Depression-era Boston the son of a Navy man, the moon-faced, intent-looking Roche started on radio at age 15 displaying his knack for character voices, both men and women. He enlisted in the U.S. Army following high school, then studied at Emerson College. Searching for work in summer stock and variety shows, he appeared in productions of "Pal Joey" with Bob Fosse and "Point of No Return" with Henry Fonda. Newly married at this time, he found classical stage parts to play in early 50s San Francisco, then headed for New York and began appearing in dramatic TV shows and commercials.
He made his Broadway debut with "Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole" starring Darren McGavin and went on to do "The White House" with Helen Hayes and "Mother Courage" with Anne Bancroft. Comedy became his forte on TV with showy recurring roles on Soap,Night Court, and Perfect Strangers, while choice support parts came his way on film, including The Late Show and Foul Play -- some roles cantankerous, some lovable, some menacing. The father of nine children, three of his male offspring have opted for entertainment careers: Eamonn Roche and Brogan Roche are actors, and Sean Roche is an Emmy award-winning writer and producer.
Persevere, and never allow anything or anyone to deter you from your passion! The world will cheer you one day and dismiss you the next so treat fanfare and failure as twins.
As the late James Cagney once said to me on the subject of acting, Don't ever let 'em catch you at it.
Remember - you are a unique being! Honor your magnificence, never retreat from it!
On with the great adventure! See you along the way.
Judge Theodore Foley
Used Car Dealer
Murray Price (voice)
Additional Voices (voice)
Arnold Stromwell / Stromwell
I.F. 'Wooley' Woolstein
Lt. Jack Boyle / Franklin Mayberry / Lt. Aloyius Jarvis / ...
Ridley / Governor
Luther H. Gillis
Phil Kroger / John Lucas
Eddie Donahough / Senator William Dietz
Police Chief Frank Brockmeyer
Senator William Dietz
Deputy Police Chief 'Mitch' Mitchell
Philip St. Johns / Walter Daniels
Father Delany (as Gene Roche)
Patrick J. Malloy
The Boss's Head
E. Ronald Mallu / E. Ronald Mallou, Esq.
Bishop Milton Wright
Judge Austin Crupper, President 1st National Bank of Deming Texas
District Attorney Patrick Shannon
Major Jim Langston
Dr. George Stegner
Detective Sergeant Harry Isadore
Patrolman Lyle 'Sandy' Beach / Seymore Haywood
Sheriff Oscar Eberhart
Mayor Clinton Bickford
Rev. Wally Snider
Detective Eddie Egan
Sheriff Emil Birge
First Motorcycle Officer
Attorney General Freed
George / Patient / Assistant D.A. Smith / ...
Private Detective (uncredited)
- Blood Sweat and Stanley Poole
- In the White House
- All in Good Time
- Great Day in the Morning
- Mother Courage
- The Millionairess
- The Price
- Waiting For Godot
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
- Between Two Thieves
- Father Uxbridge Wants to Marry
- Under Milkwood
* © 1977 Sony Pictures Home_Entertainment