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

Eugene Roche
Eugene Roche Anne Meara The Corner Bar 1973.JPG
Roche with Anne Meara in a scene from The Corner Bar in 1973.
Eugene Harrison Roche

(1928-09-22)September 22, 1928
DiedJuly 28, 2004(2004-07-28) (aged 75)
OccupationCharacter actor, commercial pitchman
Years active1953–2004

Personal lifeEdit

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 U.S. Army after graduating from high school.[2]

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.[3]


After playing theater on various stages since 1953 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.[2] Television comedy would become his forte with recurring roles on Soap, as Christine Sullivan's father on Night Court, Webster, and Larry Appleton's abusive boss on 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 played alien Jor Brel in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager called Remember.

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.[4]

Selected filmographyEdit

Further readingEdit


  1. ^ Eugene Roche profile,; accessed August 27, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Tom Vallance. Eugene Rocke obituary, The Independent (August 8, 2004)
  3. ^ Eugene Roche at the NNDB (retrieved 2019-03-14)
  4. ^ Eugene Roche, 75, Actor in TV and Film, Dies,, July 31, 2004; accessed August 27, 2015.

External linksEdit