Eddie Mekka, Of ‘Laverne & Shirley’ Fame, Dead At 69

Eddie Mekka, who became famous for his TV role as Carmine Ragusa on the sitcom Laverne & Shirley, has died at the age of 69.

From NBC News:

Mekka died at his home in Newhall, California, his brother, Warren Mekjian, told NBC News. It was unclear how or when he died, but Mekjian said there was no indication his death was suspicious and that he died on Friday or Saturday.

After Mekka’s neighbors did not hear from him for a “couple of days,” Mekjian said they checked in on him and found his body in his home, adding he received the call of his passing on Saturday morning.

Mekka was best known for his role as Carmine “The Big Ragoo” Ragusa, Shirley Feeney’s boyfriend on “Laverne and Shirley.” The sitcom aired from 1976 to 1983 on ABC.

Eddie Mekka (circle) who rose to fame in the 1970s sitcom "Laverne & Shirley" dead at 69
Eddie Mekka with the cast of ‘Laverne & Shirley’ (public domain)

I never knew Mekka began his acting career on Broadway. In 1975, he was honored with a Tony Award nomination for his leading role in the stage musical The Lieutenant.

Mekka went on to appear in nearly 50 TV shows and movies, including roles in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Dreamgirls and Penny Marshall’s 1992 film, A League of Their Own.

Additional TV credits include “The Love Boat,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.”

While my teenage brain didn’t quite understand it at the time, I look back now realizing I had such a TV crush on the charming Mr. Mekka.

Just a few highlights of the oh-so-talented Eddie Mekka on Laverne & Shirley.

His Laverne & Shirley co-stars Cindy Williams and Michael McKean took to Twitter to share their condolences.