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Eddie Mekka, known best as Carmine “The Big Ragoo” Ragusa on “Laverne & Shirley,” has passed away at the age of 69. His brother Warren Mekjian stated that Mekka died at his home in Newhall, California, on Nov. 27, 2021. His cause of death has not been disclosed.
Born Edward Rudolph Mekjian on June 14, 1952, in Worcester, Massachusetts. Having a love for dancing, he attended the Berklee College of Music. Those who knew him described him as an enthusiastic dancer and a good teacher, according to IMDb.
He was active in the Worcester County Light Opera in the early 1970s. In 1971, Mekka led the facilities youth program. The star earned himself a nomination — and won — for Broadway’s 1975 Tony Award as Best (Musical) Actor for “The Lieutenant.”
His first appearance on the “Laverne & Shirley” show was in 1976. This is the first time he danced across the screen.
He married his first wife, Dee Lively, on May 28, 1983. They divorced in 1992. Mekka married the mother of his child, Yvonne Marie Grace, on Feb. 8, 1994. They were married up to his dying day.
The star was also cast in 1992 “A League of Their Own” and 2006 “Dreamgirls.” He starred alongside Cindy Williams in Broadway’s October 2008 comedy “It Had To Be You.”
A few other acting credits Mekka had under his belt include “The Love Boat,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.”
In July 2010 Mekka appeared a Long Island production of “A Fiddler on the Roof.” It was a great success, according to IMDb.
Upon hearing about the star’s death, many took to social media to pay their respects and tributes to him. Joey B tweeted, “Suddenly feeling much older. We’ve lost half the cast of that great sitcom. Many laughs in my household as a child as a result of the talents of these fine actors. RIP, The Big Ragu.”
Julio Mora’s tweet mentioned, “He was also on the TV show Happy Times co-starring Henry Winkler and Ron Howard. “You know I go from rags to riches” was a line I remember him saying. He will be missed [Folded hands emoji]. Rest In Peace, Eddie Mekka.”
Alyfornia shared a memory they had on Twitter, “When I was 4, I met Eddie Mekka aka Carmine, at a family friend’s home in Newhall, CA. I’ll never forget how kind he was to us and how he jumped up on the roof of a car to do a little dance for my friend and I. He even tried to teach us to tap dance!! [Pleading face emoji] RIP Carmine! #EddieMekka.”
He is survived by his daughter, wife, brothers, sister, family, and friends. May he rest in peace.
Written by Sheena Robertson
IMDb: Eddie Mekka
NBC News: Eddie Mekka, ‘Laverne & Shirley’ actor, dies at 69; by Wilson Wong
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