The Tragic Death Of Laverne & Shirley Actor Eddie Mekka

Eddie Mekka, who played Carmine Ragusa, also known as "The Big Ragu," on "Laverne & Shirley," has died at age 69, per TMZ. The actor was found dead in his California home on November 27 during a welfare check after friends and neighbors had not heard from him for several days. Mekka's brothe,r Warren Mekjian, told the tabloid that Mekka was recently hospitalized for blood clots and could barely walk. Mekjian also said that there was no indication of foul play in his brother's death.

Mekka played Carmine, Shirley's boyfriend, from 1976-1983. But prior to appearing on television, Mekka worked on Broadway, earning a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical after starring in "The Lieutenant" in 1975, according to His other Broadway credits include "Jumpers" and "The Magic Show." Additionally, he appeared in the national tour of "Grease" with his TV girlfriend Cindy Williams, who played Shirley. Williams paid tribute to her former co-star on Twitter. "My darling Eddie, a world-class talent who could do it all," she wrote. "I love you dearly. I'll miss you so much. But oh the marvelous memories..."

Eddie Mekka loved the screen and the stage

But Cindy Williams wasn't the only former co-star to take to Twitter to pay their respects to the late Eddie Mekka. Michael McKean, who played Lenny on "Laverne & Shirley," tweeted, "A sad goodbye to Eddie Mekka this morning. A genuinely good guy and purveyor of cheer whenever things got cheerless. Value these people." Mekka appeared in 50 films and TV shows over his lifetime in roles both large and small, according to IMDb. After "Laverne & Shirley," Mekka appeared in "A League of Their Own," "The Bold and the Beautiful," and "Dreamgirls," among several other projects. Mekka's last acting role was in 2018, when he starred in "Hail Mary!," a family comedy about a losing football team that drafts sumo wrestlers as its linemen, per IMDb.

Mekka's brother Warren Mekjian echoed the sentiments of Williams and McKean when he confirmed Mekka's death to Fox News. "Eddie always loved to dance and sing and make jokes," he said. "He always tried to make people laugh and enjoy themselves." Mekka is survived by his second wife, Yvonne Grace, and his daughter, Mia, according to TMZ.