Eddie Mekka, 'Laverne & Shirley's' Carmine Ragusa, Dies at 69
Friends have announced the passing of actor Eddie Mekka, posting on social media that he died at his Newhall, California, home on November 27. He was 69.
No cause was given.
Mekka was a familiar face as Carmine Ragusa, Shirley Feeney's (Cindy Williams) singing boyfriend, on TV's "Laverne & Shirley" (1976-1983). His character was known to burst into song on the series, often belting, "You know I'd go from rags to riches!" to get Shirley to forgive him for any shortcomings.
Williams, who also toured in productions of "Grease" and "It Had to Be You" with Mekka decades after their series ended, tweeted of his passing, "My darling Eddie, A world-class talent who could do it all. I love you dearly. I'll miss you so much. But oh the marvelous memories.."
"The Big Ragu's" itch to perform showcased Mekka's song-and-dance talents — prior to his TV career, he was nominated for a Tony for his performance in the 1975 Broadway musical "The Lieutenant."
Born on June 14, 1952, in Worcester, Massachusetts, Mekka was also a regular on the series "Blansky's Beauties" (1977), jitterbugged with Madonna in director Penny Marshall's 1992 hit film "A League of Their Own," and had a small role in the 2006 movie version of "Dreamgirls."
Cindy Williams (Shirley) and Michael McKean (Lenny) are now the last performers who played main characters — more than 100 episodes apiece — on "Laverne & Shirley," one of the most popular sitcoms of the '70s and '80s.