TMZ has reported this morning that Laverne & Shirley actor, Eddie Mekka, who played Carmine Ragusa, was found dead in his home in Newhall, California on Saturday, November 27. A welfare check was called in after friends and neighbors hadn’t heard from him or seen him in days. Warren Mekjian, brother of Eddie, told TMZ that Eddie had recently been unable to walk and was taken to the hospital at one point for his issues with blood clots. No cause of death has been confirmed.
Eddie Mekka’s Life
Rudolph Edward Mekjian was born on June 14, 1952, in Worcester, Massachusetts to Mariam and Vaughn Mekjian. His father had served in WWII and his mother worked as a laundry presser. Mekka would eventually go on to graduate from Burncoat High School. In his early 20s, he started teaching young people how to sing at the Worcester County Light Opera. Then in 1975, after performing in the Broadway play, The Lieutenant, Mekka would be nominated for a Tony Award, which then prompted him to move to Los Angeles.
Mekka would get his first break when he landed the role of Carmine “The Big Ragoo” Ragusa in the 1977 beloved TV show Laverne & Shirley, where he would appear in 150 episodes through the show’s eight successful seasons.
During the late 70s and the entire 80s, Mekka would appear in other TV shows like Happy Days (1977-1979), The Love Boat (1979-1982), Fantasy Island (1979-1983), Moonlighting (1989), and True Blue (1989). Along with acting roles in films such as Assignment Berlin (1982), Bum Rap (1988), and Beaches (1988).
He would be part of higher-profile projects like A League of Their Own (1992) alongside Tom Hanks, the TV show Family Matters (1990 & 1994), Weird Science (1996), and The Jamie Foxx Show (1998).
During the most recent new millennium, Mekka would appear in other notable projects including Power Rangers Wild Force (2002), played himself in the movie Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003), The Bold and the Beautiful (2005), 24 (2006), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2006), The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (2007), ER (2008), The Young and the Restless (2011), the [adult swim] show Childrens Hospital (2012) and his final credit came in 2018s family football comedy, Hail Mary! where he played Danny Morelli, the coach of a failing football team.
Our condolences go to Mekka’s family at this difficult time.