Alex Rocco
Alex Rocco was best known for his role as Moe Greene in The GodfatherAFP / Getty Images

The Godfather actor Alex Rocco has died aged 79.

His death on Saturday (18 July) was announced by his daughter Jennifer on Facebook.

Describing her father as a "gregarious man" she posted a poignant poem to him recalling their close relationship.

Revealing that she knew he was dying two weeks ago and saw how much pain he was in she writes: "So I pray and say it's okay to be away, I will see you soon my love, But not just yet... Until then I will find you, In the butterflies, The wind and the sea, The rain that hit today was your storm of passing, This I know as the rain stopped when you took your leave."

No information regarding the cause of death has as yet been released.

The Emmy award winning star had over 160 acting credits in a career spanning five decades.

Rocco first came to Los Angeles from Massachusetts in the early 1960s and trained under Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy. He made his film debut in Russ Meyer's Motorpsycho!.

He went on to play roles in movies such as Get Shorty, The Wedding Planer and That Thing You Do, as well as appearing in many TV shows including Starsky And Hutch, The Facts Of Life, The Love Boat, and most recently the Starz series Magic City.

He won an Emmy Award in 1990 for his role as a Hollywood agent in Jon Cryer comedy The Famous Teddy Z. Other memorable roles include parts in The Simpsons, Magic City, Detroit 9000 and A Bug's Life.

The veteran actor was however, best known for his role as Moe Greene in The Godfather and credited the role for making his name.

He described the role of Moe Greene, a mobster who owns a Vegas casino, was his "biggest ticket anywhere."

"Every time I ever hear the theme from The Godfather, I always say, 'Thank you, God,'" he said in a 2012 interview with the A.V. Club.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan who played his son on "Magic City" paid his personal tribute to his TV father. In a statement he said: "For those of us lucky enough to get to know Rocco, we were blessed. He gave the best advice, told the best and dirtiest jokes and was the first to give you a hug and kiss when it was needed. To know Roc was to love Roc. He will be missed greatly. There is a little less magic in the world today. Rest in peace, 'Pops.' Love and miss you madly."

Rocco is survived by his second wife Shannon Wilcox, daughter Jennifer and son Lucien, and by his grandson Anthony.

Son Marc Rocco, a director, predeceased him in 2009.

Fans have also been paying their tributes on social media.