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Eddie Mekka, Laverne & Shirley actor, dies at 69

·2 min read

Eddie Mekka, the veteran TV and stage actor best known for his role as Carmine Ragusa on the 1970s sitcom Laverne & Shirley, died on Nov. 27. He was 69.

Mekka's official Facebook page confirmed the news: "It is with deep regret that we share with you the passing of our beloved Eddie Mekka," a post read. "Eddie passed away peacefully in his Newhall, California home on Saturday, November 27, 2021." The post also welcomed fans to share their memories of the actor on his fan page.

Born in Massachusetts in 1952 as Edward Rudolph Mekjian, Mekka got his start in the industry as a voice instructor at the Worcester County Light Opera Company and attended the Berklee College of Music.

He landed his first major part in 1975, making his Broadway debut in The Lieutenant and earning a Tony nomination for his work. Soon after, he moved out to Los Angeles to pursue acting and landed roles on two sitcoms created by Garry Marshall, Blansky's Beauties and Laverne & Shirley, the latter of which gave him his breakout role as the on-again, off-again boyfriend of Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams).

Laverne and Shirley - EDDIE MEKKA
Laverne and Shirley - EDDIE MEKKA

ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images Eddie Mekka

Michael McKean, who played Lenny Kosnowski on the series, tweeted a tribute to his former costar Tuesday morning.

"A sad goodbye to Eddie Mekka this morning," McKean wrote. "A genuinely good guy and purveyor of cheer whenever things for cheerless. Value those people. RIP, Eddie."

In addition to his two '70s sitcoms, Mekka appeared in films such as Beaches, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, Dreamgirls, and Hail Mary! He also had an iconic cameo in A League of Their Own, in a scene in which he stole a dance with Madonna's character, Mae, at a bar.

Mekka's body of work included other television appearances: He guest-starred on soap operas such as The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful as well as on the shows It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Moonlighting, Family Matters, and The Love Boat.

Mekka is survived by his wife, Yvonne Marie Grace, and daughter, Mia.

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