LOS ANGELES (Combined Sources) — Eddie Mekka, born Edward Rudolph Mekjian in Worcester, Mass., who was a regular on the hit television series “Laverne & Shirley,” died on November 27 at his home in the Newhall area of Santa Clarita, Calif., northwest of Los Angeles. He was 69.
His death was announced on Mekka’s Facebook page. No cause was given.
Mekka starred as Carmine “The Big Ragu” on the hit TV series.
Mekka, began his career in entertainment at the Worcester County Light Opera in Massachusetts as a voice instructor, according to the New York Post. He soon landed a role in the 1975 Broadway production of “The Lieutenant,” which earned him a Tony Award nomination for best actor in a leading role.
His TV credits included “Blanksy’s Beauties,” “Moonlighting,” “The Love Boat” and most recently “It’s Always Sunday in Philadelphia,” but it was his role as “Laverne & Shirley’s” Carmine, the boyfriend of Cindy Williams’ Shirley, a boxer who wanted to make it big on Broadway (his favorite catchphrase was singing the opening lyrics to the Tony Bennett classic Rags to Riches), that forever endeared him to audiences. The series co-starred Penny Marshall as Laverne.
Williams paid tribute to Mekka via Twitter calling him “a world-class talent who could do it all.”