'Laverne & Shirley' Actor Eddie Mekka Dies at 69: 'A Genuinely Good Guy and Purveyor of Cheer'

Eddie Mekka died “peacefully” in his home on Nov. 27, a friend of the late actor shared on Facebook 

Eddie Mekka
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Eddie Mekka, best known for his role in Laverne & Shirley, has died at age 69.

His friend, Pat Benti, shared the sad news on his Facebook page Wednesday evening, announcing that his fellow Berklee College of Music alum died "peacefully" in his California home on Nov. 27. No further details about his cause of death were provided.

"R.I.P. Big Ragu: It is with deep regret that we share with you the passing of our beloved Eddie Mekka," he wrote, referencing his Laverne & Shirley character's nickname, "The Big Ragoo."

"We welcome you to share your memories of Eddie and your condolences to his family on his fan page," Benti continued. "Rest In Peace Eddie. We had some fun, my BCM Alumni. Thank you for having our pic, as your profile pic."

Eddie Mekka
Penny Marshall, Eddie Mekka Appearing On Laverne And Shirley. Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

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Mekka was born in 1952 in Worcester, Massachusetts. After attending the Berklee College of Music, he got his start in acting on the stage, earning a Tony nomination for his breakout performance in the Broadway musical The Lieutenant in 1975.

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The next year, he landed his role as Carmine "The Big Ragoo" Ragusa on Laverne & Shirley.

Mekka remained on the beloved ABC sitcom until it ended in 1983. He also appeared in another Garry Marshall-created Happy Days spinoff, Blansky's Beauties, in addition to roles on The Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Family Matters.

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

More recently, Mekka appeared in episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful (2005), It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2006), ER (2008), and The Young and the Restless (2011).

Michael McKean, who costarred with him on Laverne & Shirley, paid tribute to the late actor on Twitter following the news of his death.

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

Mekka was married to actress DeLee Lively from 1983 to 1992. In 1994, he married Yvonne Marie Grace and had a daughter, Mia, with her.

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