January 20, 2022

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Laverne & Shirley star Eddie Mekka dies at 69

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Eddie Mekka, the actor best known for playing Carmine Ragusa on the classic sitcom Laverne & Shirley, has died. He was 69. 

Mekka’s death was announced on his Facebook page on Thursday, which said he “passed away peacefully” at his home in California, according to Variety. A cause of death was not specified. 

Mekka played Carmine, Shirley’s boyfriend nicknamed “The Big Ragoo,” on the popular Happy Days spin-off that ran from 1976 through 1983. He also starred on the sitcom Blansky’s Beauties, and he was nominated for a Tony award for his performance in The Lieutenant. Mekka’s other TV roles included appearances on Fantasy IslandThe Love BoatMoonlightingFamily MattersER, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He also headed the Worcester County Light Opera in Massachusetts, according to The Hollywood Reporter

Mekka’s brother, Warren Mekjian, told NBC News he “was always joking, laughing, loved to sing and dance — he was a good storyteller and very talented,” adding, “He’s going to be missed.” 

Cindy Williams, who played Shirley on Laverne & Shirley, also paid tribute on Twitter to “my darling Eddie,” a “world-class talent who could do it all,” while actor Michael McKean remembered him as a “genuinely good guy and purveyor of cheer whenever things got cheerless.” McKean, who played Lenny on the show, added, “Value these people.” 

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