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

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Eddie Mekka
Eddie Mekka

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
Eddie Mekka

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

RELATED GALLERY: Celebrities Who've Died in 2021

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.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

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 Eddie Mekka

RELATED: Laverne & Shirley Star David L. Lander Dies at 73

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.